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Ontotheology? Understanding Heidegger's Destruktion of Metaphysics

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Heidegger's Destruktion of the metaphysical tradition leads him to the view that all Western metaphysical systems make foundational claims best understood as 'ontotheological'. Metaphysics establishes the conceptual parameters of intelligibility by ontologically grounding and theologically legitimating our changing historical sense of what is. By first elucidating and then problematizing Heidegger's claim that all Western metaphysics shares this ontotheological structure, I reconstruct the most important components of the original and provocative account of the history of metaphysics that Heidegger gives in support of his idiosyncratic understanding of metaphysics. Arguing that this historical narrative generates the critical force of Heidegger's larger philosophical project (namely, his attempt to find a path beyond our own nihilistic Nietzschean age), I conclude by briefly showing how Heidegger's return to the inception of Western metaphysics allows him to uncover two important aspects of Being's pre-metaphysical phenomenological self-manifestation, aspects which have long been buried beneath the metaphysical tradition but which are crucial to Heidegger's attempt to move beyond our late-modern, Nietzschean impasse.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 2000-10-01

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