Review of Metaphysics 49 (2):415-416 (1995)

John Macquarrie's Hensley Henson Lectures for 1993-94 delivered at the University of Oxford may serve two different but not mutually exclusive audiences. First, as a brief, concise, reliable, and yet not uncritical survey of Heidegger's thought from Being and Time through his later meditative thinking of Being, this book stands at the top of my list. Following a discussion of Heidegger's career and early writings, Macquarrie devotes two chapters to his major work, Being and Time. He makes it clear that Heidegger was primarily concerned with developing a general ontology, not philosophical anthropology as many persons initially thought. The fourth chapter, entitled "Theology and Metaphysics," focuses in particular on the essay "What Is Metaphysics?" including the later postscript and introduction, Introduction to Metaphysics, and A Letter on Humanism. These works take up some of the issues unfinished in Heidegger's major work and point the way towards a more direct focus on the question of Being itself. Chapter 5 is concerned with Heidegger's reflections on thinghood, technology, and art showing his development beyond the primarily instrumental world of work in his early writings to a much richer, perhaps even spiritual conception of world. In chapter 6 Macquarrie discusses three closely related topics in Heidegger's later work, thinking, language, and poetry. Here we see Heidegger's progression beyond traditional philosophical and metaphysical thinking of Being to what he calls meditative thinking, a kind of thinking and speaking of Being that has much in common with poetic thinking and speaking and an understanding of Being that finds parallels in some western and eastern mystical traditions. For the title of his seventh chapter, Macquarrie chooses the title of the well-known interview with Heidegger, "Only A God Can Save Us," published in Der Spiegel after his death. He is primarily concerned in this chapter with the understanding of Being, theology, and God. Macquarrie delays until his final chapter the discussion of Heidegger's relation to National Socialism which comprises half of the Der Spiegel article. With characteristic balance Macquarrie argues that although Heidegger's conduct at the time should not be excused or glossed over it needs to be seen in the particular historical and political context which he outlines. To this he adds two personal notes based on his experiences with German prisoners following the cessation of hostilities in 1945 and a conversation with Hannah Arendt. The conversation with Hannah Arendt took place at Heathrow Airport on May 19, 1973 where Dr. Arendt was on her way to Europe for her summer holiday. Heidegger had suggested that Edward Robinson and Macquarrie consult with Arendt if they had any special difficulties translating Being and Time, and Macquarrie and she continued to have contacts following the completion of the translation. Their conversation turned to the sales of the translation of Being and Time which had been quite large, and Macquarrie commented that Heidegger must be making a good bit of money from the translation. Arendt replied that Heidegger was not much of a business man and that most of the money went to the publisher. Macquarrie then asked, "Would you say then that it was because he is not a man of affairs that he became so involved with the Nazis in 1933?" "Yes," she said, "quite so."
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  General Interest
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ISBN(s) 0034-6632
DOI revmetaph1995492171
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