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Heidegger's Philosophy of Religion

From God to the Gods

By Ben Vedder

Publication Year: 2007

In various texts, Martin Heidegger speaks of god and the gods, but the question of how exactly Heidegger’s thought relates to theology and religion in a broad sense—and to God in a specific sense—remains unclear and in need of careful, philosophical excavation. Ben Vedder provides the first book-length study on Heidegger’s relation to the philosophy of religion, offering greater accessibility into an area that continues to fascinate philosophers, theologians, and all those interested in the philosophy of religion. Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods deals intimately with hotly debated topics such as Heidegger’s interpretation of Saint Paul, Nietzsche and the death of God, ontotheology, and Heidegger’s discussion of the “last god,” taking into account the early, middle, and later texts of Heidegger. Significantly, Vedder draws heavily on Heidegger’s The Phenomenology of Religious Life, long available in German, but only recently available to English readers. Vedder describes the tension between religion and philosophy, on the one hand, and religion and poetic expression, on the other. If we grasp religion completely from a philosophical point of view, we tend to neutralize it; but if we conceive it in a simply poetic way, we tend to be philosophically indifferent to it. Vedder demonstrates how Heidegger speaks a “poetry of religion,” a description of humanity’s relationship to the divine, and why Heidegger’s thinking is ultimately a theological thinking. Clearly written and comprehensive in scope, Heidegger’s Philosophy of Religion: From God to the Gods represents a major step forward in Heidegger scholarship.

Published by: Duquesne University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. v-vi

List of Abbreviations

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pp. vii-viii

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pp. 1-10

The relation between philosophy and religion has always been problematic. It finds its expression in Plato and Aristotle, on through the syntheses of the Middle Ages, to the rationalistic reductions (religion within the limits of reason alone), further through the concept of religion as...

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ONE The Pre-Historical Heidegger

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pp. 11-34

An ongoing relationship to theology, to faith, and the church runs like a thread throughout Heidegger’s life. Heidegger was born, so to speak, in the church. His father was a sexton, who led both a vocational and a familial life under one roof, in a house situated next...

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TWO Heidegger and the Philosophy of Religion

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pp. 35-66

As we observed in the previous chapter, Heidegger directed his philosophy toward the facticity of human being. His approach to religion must be understood from the standpoint of this guiding interest. As the winter semester approached in 1920, Heidegger announced his upcoming...

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THREE Philosophy and Theologyas Mortal Enemies

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pp. 67-92

In this chapter I will focus upon a text by Heidegger that has received relatively little attention.1 Phenomenology and Theology is a short volume consisting of two texts: a lecture and a letter.2 The lecture “Phänomenologie....

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FOUR Aristotle’s Ontology as Theology

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pp. 93-112

Heidegger’s main motive is to raise the question of being. Questions about being seem to have been discredited, not only in the past century, but in the whole of Western philosophy. Therefore, Heidegger very...

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FIVE The Ideal of a Causa Sui

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pp. 113-132

Heidegger’s criticism of the metaphysical concept of god is especially directed toward the concept of god as cause.1 In the wake of Aristotle, being is understood as actualitas. The highest representation of actualitas is an...

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SIX Heidegger’s Interpretation of the Word of Nietzsche:“God is Dead”

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pp. 133-156

This chapter will work out the implications of the ontotheological structure of metaphysics, which leads to the subjectification of reality in modern times, on the basis of Heidegger’s interpretation of Nietzsche....

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SEVEN The Provisionality of a Passing Last God

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pp. 157-188

I have already mentioned the notion of the last god at the end of the previous chapter. In this chapter, I will investigate more explicitly what Heidegger means by this. This phrase is particularly important in Heidegger’s so-called...

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EIGHT Subjectivism or Humanism

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pp. 189-214

The “Letter on ‘Humanism’” (1947) plays a crucial role with regard to Heidegger’s position toward the gods and the holy. The Gesamtausgabe edition of the essay includes a marginal comment by Heidegger...

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NINE A Phenomenology of the Holy

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pp. 215-236

Having examined the tension between humanism and subjectivism, it is clear that the notion of the holy plays an important role in Heidegger’s view of the divine. Nevertheless, it seems that there is no direct connection....

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TEN A Longing for the Coming of the Gods

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pp. 237-264

Theology, as part of metaphysics, is not something that has a place in the historicity of the event of being, according to Heidegger. Instead, Heidegger develops the paradigm of the fourfold. The counterparadigm of the....

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pp. 265-278

In deriving philosophical insights related to religion from Heidegger’s work, I am myself working in the sphere of a philosophy of religion. However, one tendency of a philosophical understanding of religion is to make religion itself into a part of philosophy. This is particularly...


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pp. 279-316


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pp. 317-328


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pp. 329-336

E-ISBN-13: 9780820705545
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820703886
Print-ISBN-10: 0820703885

Page Count: 344
Publication Year: 2007