I find choosing the correct translation to be quite important in general, each one has its various merits and shortcomings.

Are there any important differentiating factors between the various translations of Being and Time? It will help me choose one.

  • ? What is the question ? Mar 8, 2014 at 8:12
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    Are you really asking that?
    – Lucas
    Mar 8, 2014 at 8:46
  • Yes. A list of translations would help. Translate from what to what? Are you translating between being and time or in-between languages? Mar 8, 2014 at 18:00
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    The two available on Amazon (Macquarrie and Robinson, and Stambaugh [revised]) are the most relevant, but if there are others that people have used that's cool, even non-English ones if they're worth mentioning. The original German to English. I'm not doing any translating myself... ah that's what the confusion is... I'm looking for a translated book, not to translate words: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Being_and_Time
    – Lucas
    Mar 8, 2014 at 22:53

4 Answers 4


I've heard (from the Dreyfus Philosophy 185 lectures available on iTunes U) that the Macquarrie and Robinson translation is not necessarily the most accurate. However, that should be balanced against the fact that it's the more commonly used and older translation, and I think for a long time the only translation, and the English terms they've chosen seem very much to have become, for better or worse, the terms we use in the English speaking world to discuss Heidegger.

Because I believe in a philosophy of discussion over a philosophy of reading, I would recommend the translation that will give you a grasp of the terms as they're used.


I find it useful to read Heidegger with some translation notes as there are several terms that are not easy to translate.

For example Stambaugh uses Attunement for Befindlichkeit whereas Macquarrie and Robinson translated this with the phrase state-of-mind, which in my opinion guides the interpretation where it shouldn't go. Befindlichkeit is derived from the phrase "how do you find something" (wie finden Sie das) and (at least this is how I understand this) similar, Dasein always finds itself in some way that influence its perception, its understanding of the world.

Similar the term Authentic should refer more to the greek root autos which means self, its own. The german term used here is eigentlich which root eigen (own as 'my own') is what Heidegger is talking about.

From other things the use of the terms conscience has no religious connotations but in my opinion is used to show that what conscience do is showing the most certain (outmost) possibility of being. In german those two are very close as conscience is das Gewissen and outmost possibility of being is gewisse Möglichkeit.

Similar goes to resoluteness (german entschlossenheit) and openess (german erschlossenheit) which are built on closesness (schlossenheit).

Of course those "word plays" are not just done for their phonetic similarities and there is always more behind it. That is why I find it very useful to always check German terms when it comes to interpretetation because Heidegger uses language not like a simple tool for expressing thoughts but as an element in which we think.

  • Thanks, something to look out for, I shall it in mind. I ended up buying the Macquarrie and Robinson version. It's a recent update with added [German]s - interestingly, they don't give translations, or even transliterations, for the numerous Greek phrases. I'm only a few pages in and struggling a little with the neologisms, my main issue right now is deciding whether to just plough through and hope it becomes clearer, or to refer to some secondary sources, or to read the 40 or so pages I have read again.
    – Lucas
    Mar 31, 2014 at 22:17
  • There's a nice secondary book by Richard Polt that gives a good, accessible discussion section by section of Being and Time. Highly recommended for those who are just getting their feet wet with Heidegger.
    – user5172
    May 1, 2014 at 0:04
  • @shane B&T has pretty much defeated me after about 100 pages. I'm not groking it, I'm more groping at it. I think I'll give your suggestion a try.
    – Lucas
    May 1, 2014 at 5:27
  • One Amazon review: 1 star: For analytically minded readers. Sounds perfect ;)
    – Lucas
    May 1, 2014 at 5:29
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    @Lucas, many philosophers find Heidegger needlessly obscure. Sometimes he's difficult because he is trying to articulate new ideas, which is an inherently difficult process. Other times he's difficult because he's trying to convince you that B&T is an utterly unique Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius. Heidegger wanted to be an oracle, and that shows in his writing.
    – user5172
    May 1, 2014 at 10:36

Just purchased the copy with a Foreward by Dennis J. Schmidt, just getting into it and mind you it is not easy at all. For those who enjoy some of Heidegger's own ideas, "in the margins" as Schmidt puts it, I recommend into looking into the copy that was done by the reputable press company of SUNY 2010. Happy readings.

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    First off, welcome to philosophy.se. Can you make clearer which translation you are referring to? (I believe this is the Stambaugh revised edition which differs from her older translation significantly)
    – virmaior
    Apr 22, 2015 at 0:29

There are only two possibilities: Stambaugh or Macquarie. Mac's version is standard, and older. Stambaugh's got revised just a few years after it came out. Perhaps publisher got desperate over its lack of acceptance.

I've read Stambaugh version a couple of times and recently looked at Mac. I think Stambaugh uses slightly shorter sentences and maybe is slightly easier to read. I really don't know.

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