Tuesday, October 02, 2012
Robert Piercey on the theological nature of metaphysical thinking.
Identity and Difference explains how metaphysics leads to the forgetfulness of Being, and describes what it sees as the proper response to this forgetfulness. It does all of this by engaging with a different historical figure: Hegel. Heidegger sets out to diagnose Hegel’s thought: to bring to light the assumptions about beings that animate it, and to develop an alternative to these assumptions.
Heidegger’s remarks on Hegel appear in a part of the text called “The Onto-Theo-Logical Constitution of Metaphysics,” which originally served as the conclusion to a seminar on Hegel that Heidegger conducted during the 1956/57 academic year. The text begins with a general characterization of Hegel’s philosophy, and an account of how it differs from Heidegger’s own work. An obvious similarity is that both Hegel and Heidegger claim that philosophy must start with a consideration of Being. Hegel’s Science of Logic begins with the Doctrine of Being, which examines “nothing but Being in general: Being, and nothing else, without any further specification and filling.” Heidegger obviously approves of this approach, and says that for him “the matter of thinking is the Same, is Being” (ID, 53). But Heidegger’s eye is caught by a parenthetical remark that Hegel makes in the introduction to the Doctrine of Being. If, Hegel says, philosophy begins with Being, then it should pay particular attention to the highest of all beings, God. “God,” he adds, “has the absolutely undisputed right that the beginning be made with him.” Heidegger concludes from this remark that Hegel sees philosophy as essentially theological – not because it is committed to “any creed or ecclesiastical doctrine,” but because it is inseparable from “statements of representational thinking about God” (ID, 54). “If science must begin with God,” Heidegger claims, “then it is the science of God: theology” (ID, 54). Whether this is an accurate reading of Hegel’s text is clearly not the point. Heidegger uses Hegel’s remark about God as a springboard to a larger discussion of what he sees as the essentially theological nature of metaphysical thinking.
Pp. 154-5
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