Wednesday, November 09, 2011
Hermann Heidegger on his father's religion, interviewed by Antonio Gnoli and Franco Volpi.
Your father was a Catholic, a Catholic who, he said, had converted to Lutheranism. On the other hand, his writings can be interpreted as a very intense form of atheism. However, in his later years of life the question of God becomes imperative, as you can see in the famous formula "Only a God can save us". What were his relations with religion?

As he came from a very Catholic family, his training and his education were Catholic. But already early on he realized that he could not remain with the dogmas of the Church. It was a conviction that matured inwardly, but which could not afford to be expressed publicly. A young man of his status could not continue his studies without the support of the Church. It was only after obtaining his Habilitation, on becoming professor in Marburg, that Heidegger could truly say what he thought. But I can say with certainty that he never was an atheist. In any case, he always believed in the presence of a God. With regard to what was written later, that he had become Protestant, following that creed, it is not true. He had deep confrontations with Luther.

Nevertheless, he wrote that he had become Protestant.

As my mother belonged to the evangelical church - though she later split with it – and we, the children had been baptized according to the evangelical rite, the legend was created of a Heidegger converted to evangelism. But this never took place. He never freed himself of his origins. And when he reached old age, he asked to be buried in Meßkirch in the Catholic rite. He told me on this subject: "That's where I was born and one corresponds with the custom when one dies."

However his philosophy can be read as a great atheist speculation. . . .

His philosophy has always refrenced a principle of transcendence.

Do you think that this principle had become more urgent in his later years?

No. This interest was always present. Already when I was young I spoke with my father in religious matters, of God and the divine.
Translation by yours truly.
Congrats on the translation. I found the piece very informative. Your site just gets more erudite by the day.
Ja, Donkeysshane!

A papi... er catholic.
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