"Das 'Subjekt' ist eine Fiktion," Nietzsche declares in aphorism 370 of Der Wille zur Macht. There is no such thing as an ego, a unitary center of personhood that can be appraised and approved for its virtue and wisdom or blamed for its premeditated transgressions and irresponsible beliefs. Subjectivity does not exist. Despite Nietzsche's pervasive influence, however, the question of subjectivity - the ontological nature, the ethical status, and the epistemological significance of the human subject - has been a preeminent theme in Continental philosophy for the entirety of the twentieth century. Virtually all Continental philosophers have found it necessary to address the question. Martin Heidegger and Michel Foucault are not exceptional in that regard. Both thinkers take up the question as a central issue in their work; both have a great deal to say about subjectivity and its philosophical place.
Copyright © 2003, University of Minnesota Press. This chapter first appeared in Foucault and Heidegger: Critical Encounters.
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McWhorter, Ladelle. "Subjecting Dasein." In Foucault and Heidegger: Critical Encounters, edited by Alan Milchman and Alan Rosenberg, 110-26. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2003.