Frederick J. Wertz on Heidegger's contributions to psychology.
There is probably no movement in philosophy that has produced more significant psychological works than that of existential phenomenology. Beyond Husserl, Martin Heidegger did not himself engage in psychology, but his thinking has been highly influential. Heidegger’s early opus, Being and Time, is a work in phenomenological ontology. However, its methodical tack – namely, to address the question of the meaning of Being by investigating the Being of the entity questioning Being, Dasein – requires and delivers an extensive analysis of Existence. As such, Heidegger has provided psychologists with a rich and elaborate, non-Cartesian conceptualization of the character and fundamental dimensions of human existence. In Heidegger’s description, Dasein is neither an isolated thing nor even a consciousness but is Existence itself, that is, an intricately structured Being-in-the-world including the ready and present-to-hand spatiality, sociality, moodedness, understanding, discourse, and temporality, all of which make up a holistic structure whose essence is Care. This vision of the “person” has been seized by psychologists studying the full spectrum of the field’s topics. For instance, Heidegger teaches us that although our human lives are basically anonymous and collectively structured, we also have the potential to be uniquely individual, and, in our directedness to our finitude and death, our lives – through our engagement in spatiality, sociality, and temporality – can become more authentically our own. In addition, Heidegger’s articulation of “the hermeneutic circle,” as a phenomenological research method applied in his interpretation of existence, has demonstrated how studies of human being can overcome preconceptions and gain fresh, grounded knowledge. Heidegger’s later works on poetry, thought, and technology have also served as a resource for psychologists.