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Heidegger's Last God

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Abstract:

In this paper, we discuss Martin Heidegger's position on the so-called godlessness of our current age. Rather than holding that we must either await the advent of god or enthusiastically embrace our godlessness, Heidegger holds that a third option is available to us: we could fundamentally change the way we experience the world by leaving behind all remnants of metaphysical thinking. In Section II, we show that, despite the absence of god, our current historical moment shares a metaphysical structure with the god-oriented epochs that preceded it. A metaphysical epoch involves a single, all-encompassing understanding of the entities in the world and how they ought to be arranged, usually established by a God who serves as a paradigm for those entities. In Section III, we discuss how the metaphysical age arose in the first place; the polytheistic world of the ancient Greeks was tumultuous and unpredictable, such that its inhabitants began to desire a stable, planned-out world that could be established by a single God. In the final section, we examine Heidegger's obscure discussion of the last god, who is to lead us out of metaphysics by a fundamental shift of the sort that led us into metaphysics. We discuss the basic features that will define a post-metaphysical age, and the last god's role in bringing this age about. We argue that this age resembles the pre-metaphysical age of the ancient Greeks, but rather than being polytheistic, it will be “polydivinistic”.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/0020174X.2011.559060

Affiliations: University of California, Riverside, USA

Publication date: 2011-04-01

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