Radical Contextuality in Heidegger's Postmetaphysics: The Singularity of Being and the Fourfold

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review


The chapter argues that radical contextuality, a hallmark theme of “postmodern” thought, is also a key element of Heidegger’s thinking. Aristotelian metaphysics, as the question of being qua being, looks for a universal principle common to every particular instance of “to be.” By contrast, the postmetaphysical approach gradually developed by Heidegger basically addresses being as the irreducible context-sensitivity and singularity of a meaningful situation, understood as a unique focal point of a dynamic and complex meaning-context. The fundamental ontology of Being and Time (1927) articulates the temporally contextual structure of the human being as Dasein, culminating in the concept of the multidimensional singular instant (Augenblick). After the failure of his attempt to articulate the temporally contextual singularity of being in terms of its correlation with Dasein, Heidegger attempts an inverted approach: Contributions to Philosophy (1936–38) considers Dasein as the spatiotemporally situated place of the singular event (Ereignis) of being. The chapter finally suggests an interpretation of the fourfold (Geviert) of sky, earth, gods, and mortals, allusively introduced in the 1949 Bremen lectures, as Heidegger’s most elaborate account of the multidimensional structure that makes possible the contextual singularization of meaningfulness.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPaths in Heidegger's Later Thought
EditorsGünter Figal, Diego D'Angelo, Tobias Keiling, Guang Yang
Place of PublicationBloomington
PublisherIndiana University Press
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)9780253047212
ISBN (Print)9780253047199 , 9780253047205
Publication statusPublished - 2020
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA3 Book chapter

Publication series

NameStudies in Continental Thought
PublisherIndiana University Press


  • Martin Heidegger
  • ontology
  • metaphysics
  • continental philosophy
  • history of philosophy
  • singularity
  • unity
  • being
  • fourfold
  • temporality
  • contextuality


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