The phenomenology of religious humility in Heidegger's reading of Luther

Continental Philosophy Review 42 (2):171-200 (2009)
The return to religion in contemporary continental philosophy is characterized by a profound sense of intellectual humility. A significant influence within this discussion is Heidegger’s anthropology of finitude in Being and Time and his later critiques of onto-theology. These critiques, however, were informed by Heidegger’s earlier phenomenology of the lived experience of religious humility performed alongside his reading of Martin Luther’s theology. This article shows that for Luther and Heidegger, religious humility is foremost an affection structured according to the enactment of one’s dissimilitude from God and resulting existential tribulation. During a seminal period in his development, Heidegger’s phenomenology of humility changed from an Eckhartian conception of detachment culminating in the unio mystica to a Lutheran conception of humiliation and Anfechtung . Heidegger’s break from a mystical phenomenology of humility parallels Luther’s own break from that tradition, and anticipates contemporary developments in the continental philosophy of religion.
Keywords Heidegger  Luther  Phenomenology  Humility  Religious experience
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DOI 10.1007/s11007-009-9102-4
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