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Questions on Heidegger and Religion
I was just wondering if anyone could steer me towards any pertinent literature on Heidegger and religion/theology or (what I have discovered some call) his phenomenology of religion.  I believe I want to direct a research paper towards that idea although I am not sure in what way yet.  I thought I had detected some religious or mystic inclinations in Division I of Being and Time in placing so much importance on the Being of Dasein (perhaps, his twisted re-interpretation of the soul?) but, after reading the sections on death (in Being and Time), it seems that that interpretation may be a little off (considering he dispels any notion of an afterlife or immortality in his thought).  But I can't help but think a man who was so religious in his upbringing and early academic years could shake off religious notions completely albeit in a fierce rejection of them or in an underlying acceptance.

Any thoughts and/or references to materials?

P.S.  I am an undergrad senior with only Being and Time and Introduction to Metaphysics "under my belt" without much familiarity with his later thought.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
This is a very interesting line of questioning.  
As I see it, you first need to state what you are doing with how little Heidegger says about God.  Does that mean claims about God would not affect his claims about Being?  What about vice versa?  

The two most widely read figures that come to my mind are (1) MacQuarrie, who was a theologian and his main translator into English and (2) Bultmann who was a theologian who sought very strong revisions in the understanding of the Christian message in light of Heidegger's work.  

The other big idea that raises questions for me is are statements to be understood as pragmatic ("ready-to-hand" or zuhanden) or as theoretical ("present-to-hand" or vorhanden).  Hubert Dreyfus' book helped me most in finding a working distinction between these two attitudes towards being.  

What happens to theological claims if we have come to understand that much (or most) of our discourse has been wrapped up in what Heidegger calls a "metaphysics of presence"?  

I feel slightly annoying listing three major authors.  You will need to restrict the range of your research for now so that you can reach conclusions.  You also want to "protect yourself" with "if...then" statements and by just making it clear when you have decided to treat Heidegger's claims as this or that.  

I hope this helps and I hope you remain excited about this topic.  

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Dear Michael

I have found the following to be useful treatments of, and ways into the large literature on, Heidegger and religion: J. Caputo, 'Heidegger and Theology' in Guignon ed., The Cambridge Companion to Heidegger; J. Kockelmans, On the Truth of Being: Reflections on Heidegger’s Later Philosophy, ch. 6; H. Philipse, Heidegger's Philosophy of Being, §§11,12C. As general introductions to Heidegger, I recommend R. Polt, Heidegger (which is excellent, but concentrates upon the earlier work) and J. Young, Heidegger's Later Philosophy.



Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Dear Michael,

I would suggest you to try John D. Caputo. Excuse me for the brevity of this reply, I would like to talk more about this topic.

You can check Caputo in his web site


Facundo Bey

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Hi Michael,

I did a bit of work on Heidegger for my Theology MA.  Heidegger, as you indicated, had an interesting relationship with religion growing up.  He was initially a Roman Catholic, briefly attended a Jesuit seminary (I seem to remember), but then became a Protestant about the time he was working with Husserl.  He was also keen on Meister Eckhardt, a late medieval mystic.

At the time of writing Being and Time he was close friends with the theologian Rudolf Bultmann (the two used to attend each other's lectures).  Hence a lot of Bultmann's work on existential theology reflects Heidegger's philosophy.  A fair amount of work was done on the interaction of the two by John Macquarrie, who was also the first translator of Being and Time into English.  He has two short books (Martin Heidegger and Heidegger and Christianity), each of which would be a good introduction, as well as any of his other writing.  If you want to go further, John Caputo's Aquinas and Heidegger sheds some interesting light on their respective metaphysics.

Hope that helps,
Kevin Macnish

Questions on Heidegger and Religion

I studied Heidegger with Hubert Dreyfus and find his companion book Being in the World very helpful.  See what you think, and best of luck!


Questions on Heidegger and Religion
A couple of suggestions:
Focus upon what Heidegger has to say about religion in key texts and periods and be aware of the context of his writings.  Thus, I would suggest focusing upon one period in particular and not trying to cover the whole of Heidegger.
An Introduction to Metaphysics (1935) is Heidegger's most accessible work and can quickly give you a sense of what he is about.
Then consider the following:

Martin Heidegger, The Phenomenology of Religious Life. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2004.

Heidegger’s lecture "Phenomenology&Theology" (1927) (Pathmarks).

Karl Barth. The Humanity of God. Louisville, Kentucky: Westminster John Knox Press, 1960.

Rudolf Bultmann New Testament and Mythology. (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1989 (1984).

John Macquarrie, An Existentialist Theology, New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1965.

John Macquarrie, Heidegger and Christianity, London: Continuum, 1999.

And the works of Caputo.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Michael, you should check Kisiel's Genesis of Being and Time. I also found McGrath's  The early Heidegger&Medieval Philosophy useful.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
I would look into hans jonas' text "the phenomenon of life,  the essay  "heidegger and theology."  he was a student of heidegger among other... Also, see Jean Luc Marion's collection of essays "the visible and the revealed," and Michel Henry's  text " I am the way." also Derrida and VAttimo "on religion," and maybe even Agamben has something on this matter in "Potentialities" or "the time that remains."
best wishes...

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Hello Michael
Sorry for this late response, but I have only just joined philpapers. I am a little hesitant to plug my own book, but it certainly seems very relevant to your inquiry. It particularly explores the later Heidegger and the implications of his thought post his 'turning' on non-theist notions of divinity, sprituality, environmental ethics, Heidegger's 'gods' etc. The book is called Only a god can save us – Heidegger, poetic imagination and the modern Malaise. It is published by Common Ground

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Rather than look at writers, commentators, or interpreters, I would suggest getting clear first off on the main themes at work in Heidegger, not neglecting their Greek roots.  I would put falling, thrownness, the they, and conscience at the head of the list.  Understand the Myth of the Cave, Aristotle on potential vs possibility and understanding, and then look at contemporary and historical heroes for meat and bones on which to turn your newly sharpened analytical knife.  I would recommend, here, Martin Luther King, Jr., who was deeply influenced by Heideggerrian philosophy, and first of all a religious figure who, incarnating the Nietzschean spine running through Heidegger from the ground up, put thought to action.  Consider, also, Gilgamesh as a proto-religious figure and template for future heroes who exemplifies Heideggerrian themes, as well.  Once you have this basis, you should be better prepared to review other writers...  Otherwise, you will do little more than build a bibliography and a long-form book report. 

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Reply to Jeffrey White

I could not agree more, and my suggestion was not meant to be a substitute for the necessary thorough grounding that you advocate before embarking too far on Heidegger's pathways. When I started reading Heidegger I, like many others, at first found his locutions difficult, so I turned to the many commentaries. While these were often helpful in clarifying certain Heideggerian themes, at times they also almost deterred me from exploring his works any further, lest I be infected by an insidious underlying political virus. However, I decided to read his own works slowly and patiently, with as few preconceptions as possible, and found little that resembles the rhetoric and content of  National Socialism (I am not saying that the discussions around this controversy are of no consequence). As I have become more accustomed to his way of thinking, I also agree with you in your other posting that he is not 'obscure', but does require from his readers a transformed manner of thinking with which we may not be comfortable.
Yet along his pathways, we may across some sights that spark something in us, something from ourselves. Being our interpretation it may well be one with which Heidegger himself would have reservations, so we should be careful not to make claims on his behalf. As Heidegger said in Identity and Difference, there are times to “sow a seed here and there, a seed of thinking which some time or other may bloom in its own way and bring forth fruit”.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Cheers, Heunk!

In light of your closing sentiment, I recall the term "seminar."
A time to plant seeds...

Sounds like what this young man needs is a good seminar in Heidegger.

P.S. Identity and Difference is a WONDERFUL little book!  When I left the States (can't stand the wars of ignorance for empire...), I was able to being only a few texts.  That was one of them!  I was given that book years earlier as a gift from my old Heidegger teacher, Alexander Von Schoenborn, one of the old guard who understood the value of a seminar, and the purpose that is the Philosophic life.  Sadly, he suffered great mistreatment at the hands of the new McCarthyism that has long since infected the industry.

P.S.S.  I, for one, feel that the national socialism thing is a non-issue.  There are deep philosophical issues underwriting Heidegger's early motivations, and these are worth inquiring into (roots in Rousseau and Nietszche to start), but otherwise, the issue - as obscure as the history of the era truthfully is - has nothing to do with Heidegger's Philosophy, and people trump interest in Heidegger on these grounds fro 2 reasons: 1) because they want an excuse not to work to understand him, and 2) for political reasons of their own, not unrelated to 1.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Alain Badiou has something to say on the subject in his Being and Event.

Malcolm Dean

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
I can just contribute the following hints.

The topic of the finiteness of ds Dasein, intimately related to das Sein-zum-Tode, seems an inheritance from the religious anthropology as opposed to the modern anthropology, which underlines the capacity of self-determination of man, from Descartes to Marx to Sartre.

As known, Heidegger relates this finiteness to the finiteness of human reason as depicted by Kantian criticism. The finiteness of human reason is just a consequence of human existenntial finiteness.

As finite, the Dasein can transcend itself toward Being; so, Being seems to take the role of Divinity in some sense. 

I vaguely recall there are some papers on the internet about Nishida and Heidegger; from there you could perhaps get some other clues. 

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Never mind, for the time being anyway, the rather vast literature on this subject. Read that text. In BT death, more exactly Dasein’s ownmost possibility, is considered just as a possibility or potentiality. This entails that Dasein is not immortal if what is immortal has no such possibility. It does not by itself entail that the ownmost possibility (annihilation, the impossibility of Dasein’s being at all anymore) will eventuate. Heidegger was mistaken when he wrote that death in this sense is definite as to its that unless he meant that it is quite definitely possible.

Every Dasein and therefore every possible human being has this possibility. This would exclude, so far as I can make out, the central thesis of Christian faiths concerning the divinity of Christ, and Heidegger’s position was intended to do that. It was also intended to exclude that any entity could exist in the manner of a substance (that is, of an entity that would not have the possibility of not being). The possibility of a Supremely Perfect Being, as theology has tried to understand such a being, would also be excluded therefore.

Never mind all the drivel about Heidegger’s early and later ties to Christian sects. Those ties are not involved in BT any more than are his ties to the NSDAP, despite the vast literature speculating about such involvements.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
"Heidegger was mistaken when he wrote that death in this sense is definite as to its that unless he meant that it is quite definitely possible."

Of course that is (sort of) what he meant.
It is a point about which he is explicit.
Death is one's ownmost possibility that is NOT a possibility.
And that is why confronting it results in Angst, rather than fear.
We fear THINGS.
NOTHING is another story...
The best way to remember it is that death is a situation without a situation,
there is no "I" to inhabit this situation, as the "I" is DEAD,
and as every situation requires something situated,
it is a situation that simply cannot be.
It is NOT a possibility...
Unable to put ourselves there, we become anxious...
Confronted with the necessity - that we will be in that situation however impossible it is (to conceive),
we feel Angst.

Heidegger is doing something very important here, besides telling us about death.
He is telling us something about how our minds work...
They work by putting ourselves into different situations,
understanding those situations on the basis of experience...
Which is why wisdom (experience of many situations),
and why authenticity (taking up one's own situation - including the NON-situation that is one's own death)
are so important. 

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
Reply to Jeffrey White
"Death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of Dasein. Thus death reveals itself as that possibility which is one's ownmost, which is non-relational, and which is not to be outstripped [unueberholbare]." [BT,MR tr. p. 294 (marginal 250] More need not be said, but I will add that neither Heidegger nor I would consider a possibility that is not a possibility to be worth dwelling on.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
 What is being proposed here is a false dichotomy. Nowhere does Heidegger assert or imply that all statements are either ready-to-hand or present-t-hand. Dreyfus is here in very extensive company that is the worse the more extensive it is, and it is pervasive. For an alternative approach see, especially HTML clipboard¶HTML clipboard¶ 13-36.

The enormous literature on this subject has been worse than useless.

Would that it weren't so!
R. Jordan

Questions on Heidegger and Religion

Dear Micheal, there is an execellent set of lectures by Heidegger on the Phenomenology of relgion. Printed by the University of Indiana. It is a set of great lectures by heidegger during the time period of 1920-1921. The book is untitled. Martin Heidegger: "The Phenomenology Of Religious Life". Check it out.

Questions on Heidegger and Religion
you might read engaging heidegger by capobianco and also heidegger's four seminars..rudy bauer