Although Walter Benjamin anticipated a confrontation with Martin Heidegger regarding the theory of historical knowledge, this confrontation was never fully elaborated. This essay contributes to filling out this lacuna by arguing that Benjamin’s concept of the dialectical image was conceived as a phenomenological corrective to Heidegger’s historicity. To clarify the phenomenological sources of Benjamin’s conception of the image, it reads the traces of Benjamin’s engagement with the early phenomenologist Jean Héring in the first sentences of entry “N3,1” in Das Passagen-Werk, where Benjamin presents his notion of the image in explicit opposition to Heidegger. The essay argues that Benjamin relied on Héring’s notion of phenomenological essences as indexically individuated to conceptualize the historical index of the image and to provide a better (i.e., more concrete) way of “saving history for phenomenology” than Heidegger’s historicity. By tracking Benjamin’s debts and departures from Héring, this essay prepares the ground for a reconstruction of Benjamin’s confrontation with Heidegger and argues for the relevance of Benjamin’s conception of history for contemporary critiques of historicism.

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