Martin Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion

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In Heidegger was appointed associate professor of philosophy at the University of Marburg. Although he published very little in the early s, his mesmerizing podium presence created for him a legendary reputation among young students of philosophy in Germany. Heidegger used that technique to further his goal of dismantling traditional philosophical theories and perspectives. What does Being mean? In order to address that question properly, Heidegger found it necessary to undertake a preliminary phenomenological investigation of the Being of the human individual, which he called Dasein.

In that endeavour he ventured onto philosophical ground that was entirely untrodden. Heidegger stood that approach on its head. For Heidegger, the very Being of the individual involves engagement with the world. Yet the framework of Being and Time is suffused by a sensibility—derived from secularized Protestantism—that stresses the paramountcy of original sin. Rather than facing up to their own finitude—represented above all by the inevitability of death —they seek distraction and escape in inauthentic modalities such as curiosity, ambiguity , and idle talk.

Another distinguishing feature of Being and Time is its treatment of temporality Zeitlichkeit. Heidegger believed that traditional Western ontology from Plato to Immanuel Kant had adopted a static and inadequate understanding of what it means to be human. From that standpoint one of the distinctive features of inauthentic Dasein is that it fails to actualize its Being.

Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion

Its existential passivity becomes indistinguishable from the nonecstatic, inert being of things. Heidegger was unlucky in having the particular cult to which he was attracted turn out to be one of the most virulent of all time. This excuses him in no way, but it does remove the stigma from the work itself. Such is not the case for Carl Schmitt or Ludwig Klages, whose philosophy contains far more inherently fascist elements rather than merely cultic or irrationalist ones.

Leaving aside the Nazi issue, his treatment of basically everyone he ever came into contact with, from Husserl to Hannah Arendt to his colleagues and students, tended toward the selfish, callous, and profoundly exploitative. Few philosophers seemed to treat people as means to an end as exclusively as Heidegger did. I think Heidegger was too disorganized and confused to pull something like that off. Philipse, quite organized and systematic himself, may have read too much of those traits into Heidegger.

This is a small point, but I think it does result in Philipse giving Heidegger a bit too much credit. Now I want to suggest that the burden of authentic resoluteness as Heidegger sees it is in principle unbearable. It is simply impossible to be resolute without relying somehow and to some extent on preexisting cultural roles and norms.

Once Dasein has become authentic by liberating itself from standard morality, life becomes unbearable, and the liberated individual will seek to shake off the burden of radical individuation vereinzelung by joining a collectivist mob. The unbearable burden of authentic life can be relieved in two ways: by a leap to faith and by a totalitarian commitment.

I want to look at this psychologically and biographically. As depicted in biographies, the unempathetic and selfish Heidegger never seems to possess any sense of belonging to a group of peers. Lacking human compassion and solidarity, his search for authenticity had no choice but to take theological and tribal forms.

I want you to see. I have abbreviated this section heavily and excluded two more specialized stratagems. Philipse counts them as characteristic of the later work in particular. The Stratagem of the Fall. If the Neo-Hegelian and postmonotheist doctrines were true, modern man would be fated to err. Heidegger erred grandly, because he erred in accordance with the present fundamental stance of the will to power.

His opponents, however, err in petty ways, because, disagreeing with Heidegger, they do not acknowledge what is in our times, even though they are unwittingly determined by the present fundamental stance. Heidegger holds that logic is bound up with a false metaphysics that conceals Being, and that language in its ordinary uses blinds us to the light of Being as well. Christians sometimes held that everything, from language to inanimate matter, had been corrupted by the Fall.

Similarly, Heideggerians suggest that all ways of philosophizing other than their own are contaminated, and that one does not need to show this in detail. The Stratagem of the Radical Alternative.


If everything that human beings do or think is contaminated by the Fall, redemption must consist in an alternative that is radically different from anything we are able to conceive of: an entirely new Beginning. The Stratagem of Undifferentiating Abstraction. I call this type of abstraction undifferentiating because Heidegger suggests that differences between items within the extension of these empty terms do not really matter and are indifferent.

PHILOSOPHY - Heidegger

Strategies of Immunization. Heideggerians often claim that criticism of what Heidegger says must be due to misunderstandings. I do not want to deny that criticisms may be unfair; surely they might be due to misunderstandings. It is at this very doctrine that my criticisms are aimed. Stratagem of the Elect. One will wonder how Heidegger could claim that he was able to raise and understand the question of Being, if Being is concealed and the Fall has been completed.

How could he gain access to the impenetrable and hidden place from where he was able to experience the Truth of Being, if this truth remains concealed to ordinary mortals? In Beitrage zur Philosophie, the theme of the elect occurs again and again. Philipse links these stratagems to religion. They are so ubiquitous that Heidegger stands out mostly for the force and skill with which he deployed them, which would do Grover Norquist proud. This is really good! I say this as someone who fell under the spell of Heidegger in college, and spent a lot of time later gaining some critical distance from his thought.

But Heidegger really can marshal a kind of rhetoric of revelation in remarkably effective way, and some of his thought does produce a kind of poetry, as you note.

Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion

What do you make of the fact that at the very end of his life Heidegger did find common ground with other traditions of thought — e. Integrating systematic doubt into a worldview really strengthens it. Since it, like all worldviews, is still insufficient, I do find it worthwhile to look at folks like Heidegger who put up vociferous challenges. What IS worth noting is the roughly concurrent Kyoto school of semi-mystical Japanese philosophers—Nishida, Tanabe, Nishitani—which had similar nationalist and religious leanings to Heidegger. Tanabe studied under Husserl and Heidegger in , no less.

The Reich law required the firing of Jewish professors from German universities, including those, such as Husserl, who had previously converted to Christianity. The termination of the retired professor Husserl's academic privileges thus involved no specific action on Heidegger's part. Heidegger had by then broken off contact with Husserl other than through intermediaries.

Heidegger later claimed that the relationship with Husserl had already become strained after Husserl publicly "settled accounts" with Heidegger and Max Scheler in the early s. Heidegger did not attend his former mentor's cremation in In , under pressure from publisher Max Niemeyer, Heidegger agreed to remove the dedication to Husserl from Being and Time restored in post-war editions. Heidegger's behavior towards Husserl has evoked controversy.

Martin Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion

Hannah Arendt had initially suggested that Heidegger's behavior precipitated Husserl's death. She called him a "potential murderer. After the spectacular failure of Heidegger's rectorship, he withdrew from most political activity, without canceling his membership in the NSDAP.

Nevertheless, references to National Socialism continued to appear in his work, usually in ambiguous ways. Heidegger's affair with Hannah Arendt occurred some time before Heidegger's involvement in National Socialism, but her friendship with Heidegger did not end when she moved to Heidelberg to continue her studies under Karl Jaspers. Arendt later spoke on his behalf at his denazification hearings. Jaspers spoke against him at the same hearings, suggesting he would have a detrimental influence on German students because of his powerful teaching presence.

Arendt cautiously resumed their friendship after the war, despite or even because of the widespread contempt for Heidegger and his political sympathies. The denazification hearings resulted in Heidegger being forbidden to teach between and One consequence of his disfavour in Germany was that Heidegger began to engage far more in the French philosophical scene.

In a lecture on technology delivered at Bremen in , Heidegger made the following controversial remark:. This quotation has been the subject of widespread criticism and interpretation. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe , for example, described it as "scandalously inadequate. In Heidegger had an encounter with the poet Paul Celan , a Jew who had survived concentration camps operated by the Nazis' Romanian allies.

While admiring aspects of Heidegger's writings, Celan had long been aware of Heidegger's involvement with National Socialism. Heidegger there presented Celan with a copy of What is Called Thinking? On July 25 Celan visited Heidegger at his retreat, signing the guestbook and spending some time walking and talking with Heidegger. The details of their conversation are not known, but the meeting was the subject of a subsequent poem by Celan, entitled "Todtnauberg" dated August 1, The enigmatic poem and the encounter have been discussed by numerous writers on Heidegger and Celan, notably Lacoue-Labarthe.

A common interpretation of the poem is that it concerns, in part, Celan's wish for Heidegger to apologize for Heidegger's behavior during the Nazi era. On September 23, , Heidegger gave an interview to Der Spiegel magazine, in which he agreed to discuss his political past provided that the interview be published posthumously it was published on May 31, In the interview, Heidegger defended his entanglement with National Socialism in two ways: first, he argued that there was no alternative, saying that he was trying to save the university and science in general from being politicized and thus had to compromise with the Nazi administration.

Second, he admitted that he saw an "awakening" " Aufbruch " which might help to find a "new national and social approach" but stated that he changed his mind about this in , largely prompted by the violence of the Night of the Long Knives. Thus, in his Der Spiegel interview Heidegger defended as double-speak his lecture describing the "inner truth and greatness of this movement.

Rather, he meant it as he expressed it in the parenthetical clarification later added to An Introduction to Metaphysics , namely, "the confrontation of planetary technology and modern humanity. The Der Spiegel interviewers did not bring up Heidegger's quotation comparing the industrialization of agriculture to the extermination camps.

In fact, the Der Spiegel interviewers were not in possession of much of the evidence now known for Heidegger's Nazi sympathies. Heidegger was one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century, and his ideas have penetrated into many areas, but in France there is a very long and particular history of reading and interpreting his work.

Heidegger's influence on French philosophy began in the s, when Being and Time , "What is Metaphysics? The influence of Heidegger on Sartre's Being and Nothingness is marked, but Heidegger felt that Sartre had misread his work, as he argued in later texts such as the "Letter on 'Humanism'. After the war, Heidegger was banned from university teaching for a period on account of his activities as Rector of Freiburg University.

Heidegger subsequently made several visits to France, and made efforts to keep abreast of developments in French philosophy by way of correspondence with Jean Beaufret , an early French translator of Heidegger, and with Lucien Braun. Deconstruction came to Heidegger's attention in by way of Lucien Braun's recommendation of Jacques Derrida's work Hans-Georg Gadamer was present at an initial discussion and indicated to Heidegger that Derrida's work came to his attention by way of an assistant.

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Heidegger expressed interest in meeting Derrida personally after the latter sent him some of his work. There was discussion of a meeting in , but this failed to take place. Heidegger's interest in Derrida is said by Braun to have been considerable as is evident in two letters, of September 29, and May 16, , from Heidegger to Braun. Braun also brought to Heidegger's attention the work of Michel Foucault. Foucault's relation to Heidegger is a matter of considerable difficulty; Foucault acknowledged Heidegger as a philosopher whom he read but never wrote about.

Jacques Derrida made emphatic efforts to displace the understanding of Heidegger's work that had been prevalent in France from the period of the ban against Heidegger teaching in German universities, which amounted to an almost wholesale rejection of the influence of Jean-Paul Sartre and existentialist terms.

According to Derrida, Sartre's interpretation of Dasein and other key Heideggerian concerns is overly psychologistic, anthropocentric, and misses the historicality central to Dasein in Being and Time. Because of Derrida's vehement attempts to "rescue" Heidegger from his existentialist interpreters and also from Heidegger's "orthodox" followers , Derrida has at times been represented as a "French Heidegger", to the extent that he, his colleagues, and his former students are made to go proxy for Heidegger's worst political mistakes, despite ample evidence that the reception of Heidegger's work by later practitioners of deconstruction is anything but doctrinaire.

These debates included the question of whether it was possible to do without Heidegger's philosophy, a position which Derrida in particular rejected. Not all scholars agreed with this negative assessment: Richard Rorty , for example, declared that "[Farias'] book includes more concrete information relevant to Heidegger's relations with the Nazis than anything else available, and it is an excellent antidote to the evasive apologetics that are still being published.

More recently, Heidegger's thought has considerably influenced the work of the French philosopher Bernard Stiegler. This is evident even from the title of Stiegler's multi-volume magnum opus , La technique et le temps volume one translated into English as Technics and Time, 1: The Fault of Epimetheus. Stiegler understands the existential analytic of Being and Time as an account of psychic individuation , and his later "history of being" as an account of collective individuation.

He understands many of the problems of Heidegger's philosophy and politics as the consequence of Heidegger's inability to integrate the two.

Martin Heidegger's Post-Metaphysical Hyper-Humanism

Heidegger's influence upon 20th century continental philosophy is unquestioned and has produced a variety of critical responses. The content of Being and Time , according to Husserl, claimed to deal with ontology, but from Husserl's perspective only did so in the first few pages of the book. Having nothing further to contribute to an ontology independent of human existence, Heidegger changed the topic to Dasein.

Whereas Heidegger argued that the question of human existence is central to the pursuit of the question of being, Husserl criticized this as reducing phenomenology to "philosophical anthropology" and offering an abstract and incorrect portrait of the human being. The Neo-Kantian Ernst Cassirer and Heidegger engaged in an influential debate located in Davos in , concerning the significance of Kantian notions of freedom and rationality.

Whereas Cassirer defended the role of rationality in Kant, Heidegger argued for the priority of the imagination. Stuttgart Initially members of the Frankfurt School were positively disposed to Heidegger, becoming more critical at the beginning of the s. Heidegger's student Herbert Marcuse became associated with the Frankfurt School. Initially striving for a synthesis between Hegelian-Marxism and Heidegger's phenomenology, Marcuse later rejected Heidegger's thought for its "false concreteness" and "revolutionary conservativism.

Contemporary social theorists associated with the Frankfurt School have remained largely critical of Heidegger's works and influence. However, recent work by philosopher and critical theorist Nikolas Kompridis tries to show that Heidegger's insights into world disclosure are badly misunderstood and mishandled by Habermas, and are of vital importance for critical theory, offering an important way of renewing that tradition. Criticism of Heidegger's philosophy has also come from analytic philosophy , beginning with logical positivism. Accusing Heidegger of offering an "illusory" ontology, Rudolf Carnap criticized him, in "The Elimination of Metaphysics Through Logical Analysis of Language" , of committing the fallacy of reification and of wrongly dismissing the logical treatment of language, which, according to Carnap, can only lead to writing "nonsensical pseudo-propositions.

A strong critic of Heidegger's philosophy was the British logical positivist A. In Ayer's view, he proposed vast, overarching theories regarding existence, which are completely unverifiable through empirical demonstration and logical analysis. For Ayer, this sort of philosophy was a poisonous strain in modern thought and he considered Heidegger to be the worst example of such philosophy which Ayer believed to be entirely useless. Bertrand Russell commented, expressing the sentiments of many midth-century English-speaking philosophers, that:.

Roger Scruton stated that:. The analytic tradition values clarity of expression. Heidegger, however, has on occasion appeared to take an opposing view, stating for example that "those in the crossing must in the end know what is mistaken by all urging for intelligibility: that every thinking of being, all philosophy, can never be confirmed by 'facts,' i. Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy. Those who idolize 'facts' never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light.

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  • They are also meant not to notice this; for thereupon they would have to be at a loss and therefore useless. But idolizers and idols are used wherever gods are in flight and so announce their nearness. Not all analytic philosophers, however, have been as hostile.