Monday, October 01, 2012
At First Things, Aaron Closson on the reluctant theologian.
Given the debate over Heidegger’s philosophical and ethical legacy it may seem excessively generous to suggest that his work holds interest for Christian theologians.
Christian theologians' interest corresponds with the facts. For the first couple of decades following WWII, most of the interest in Heidegger in the USA was from theologians. They translated and organized conferences, while university philosophy departments were muzzled by McCarthyism. As Aaron points out, calls for the suppression of the Seinsfrage continue in the XXIst century.
Heidegger distanced himself from Christianity in the late twenties, but it remains plausible that he never fully abandoned his Catholic mindset. John D. Caputo writes that by advancing an eschatological narrative of the “history of Being” in Being and Time, Heidegger was “clearly Hellenizing and secularizing a fundamentally biblical conception of the history of salvation.” Interwoven with his highly original interpretation of Greek and Middle Age mystical works runs a Christian ethos that is difficult to dismiss as purely coincidental. Caputo insists that “Heidegger was giving a reading of the early Greeks that it is impossible to believe was not the result of a transference of the categories of Christianity to early Greek texts.”
His son says Heidegger was always Catholic.
Everything I have read by Caputo, where he comments on the work of others, has the same pattern. If he approves, then he argues that it verifies the dogmatic history of the Roman Catholic Church. Since every argument must begin somewhere, and if dogma begins with a creator God, then the adoption of Being to begin allows an identification with God.

Compare that, for instance, to Derrida who begins with “differance.” Since Derrida defines the concept of God as not deconstructible, he avoids the whole issue, while yet commenting de-constructively on religion in general.

Heidegger’s development of aletheia, an epistemology of revelation in a new way, with which he argues the absence of Beyng, may be Catholic but only heretically so. I am looking forward to the English translation of Agamben’s Opus Dei, where I hope he will comment on the consequences for existing Christian institutions of Heidegger’s epistemology.
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