Martin Heidegger: A Final Answer To His Life’s Work

Their were two authors throughout my undergraduate and graduate studies that had to be defeated.  Both held seemingly intractable philosophical positions that not even the most competent and rigorous theologian could resolve.  That was until I discovered a range of philosophical thinkers throughout Poland (it never really had a Reformation) that gladly accepted and exposed the weaknesses of Kant and Heidegger.

This post will briefly explore a resolution to the seemingly intractable problem that Heidegger reformulated from the pre-Socrates.  Heidegger was fascinated with ‘Ontic’ questions.  Philosophical questions that pertain to exploring ‘Being’.  Heidegger never thought that either Plato, Aristotle or any Catholic, Muslim Medievalist was sufficiently concerned with exposing the true nature and orientation of philosophy in its grasp of pursing ‘being’ or ‘Dasein’.  He also denied the philosophical validity of the Church’s anthropology.

Heidegger’s rhetorical question, ‘has the Dasein ever freely decided to come into existence?’  has been answered long ago.

The following is for those who have cut their teeth on Martin Heidegger:

The transcendence of human being is disclosed here as life imposed upon, as imposition to give an account, as imposition of freedom.  The transcendence of being is commandment.  I have not brought my being into existence.  Nor was I thrown into being.  My being is obeying the saying ‘Let there be!”

Commandment and expectation lie dormant in the recesses of being and come to light in the consciousness of being human.  What Adam first hears first is a command.

Against the conception of the world as something just here, the Bible insists that the world is creation.  Over all being stands the words:  ‘Let there be!”  To be is to obey the commandment of creation.  God’s word is at stake in being.  What endures is a response to a command.

Philosophically, the primacy of creation over being means that the ‘ought’ precedes the ‘is’.  The order of things goes back to an order of God.  Ontic questioning must be informed of its debt first before its seeks to impose false dichotomies in radical autonomy.

Even evading metaphysical reflection about the ultimate source of being provides order grounding the primacy of ethics over ontic questions.  Man’s will to be cannot be separated from his ought to be.  Human being completely independent of norm is a figment of one’s imagination.

The loss of the sense of significant being is due to the loss of the commandment of being human.  Being human is a response.  It is obedience.  ‘Thou art’ precedes ‘I am’.  I am because I am called upon to be.  When we quarry an ethics grounded in Judeo-Christian creation we find an orientation out of Heidegger’s dilemma.

Ontic questions cannot take primacy over a single dimension in which a human person finds himself.  Characteristic of human existence is the mutual involvement of being and the meaning of humanness.

What I suggest is that Heidegger pursues a line of philosophical thought that first seeks neutral being and then value.  This is incorrect.  Being created implies being born in value, being endowed with meaning, receiving value.  Living involves acceptance of meaning, obedience and commitment.

Even though Heidegger extends his metaphysics into the history of philosophy by finding his views anticipated in the thought of both Heraclitus and Parmenides.  The evidence for this claim depends partly on a set of unreliable etymologies that Heidegger claims he has found for certain Greek words.  Even if Heideggers interpretation is plausible he still remains anachronistic in his view of the kind of problem the pre-Socratics confronted.  They progressively recognized as paradoxical and therefore needing reformulation those very forms of utterance that Heidegger denies throughout his philosophical endeavor.

Heidegger’s work can be sufficiently criticized and reformulated within the moral and ethical framework maintained in Judeo-Christian accounts of creation.  If we ignore such an import we remain paralyzed within both the rival diagnoses of errors involved in treating ‘being’ as a noun and the rival conceptual frameworks given by other ontologist’s.

About William Holland

Systematic Theologian/International Relations
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17 Responses to Martin Heidegger: A Final Answer To His Life’s Work

  1. Nice! That old Heidegger, the father of “deconstruction”..poor man!

  2. Yes, you’re right on about the ‘deconstruction bit’. An old friend of mine had framed the death notice of Derrida from the NY Review of Books, when I asked him why he did, he told me that most of Derrida’s work was stolen from Augustine. He was simply elated that he died! (lol) Derrida was fathered by Heidegger!

  3. Yes, Heidegger and Derrida.. such postmodernists really (what a paper father & Funny how Derrida used Augustine? How can someone take an orthodox writer/thinker, like Augustine, and so twist him?

    Great blogs of late Bill! Stay on that cutting edge! It keeps one’s mind alive, yes? lol I know mine gets tired at times (61 coming in late Oct.), wow! Life is flying by! (But it is good, like a good God!)

  4. pau11yb says:

    “Even evading metaphysical reflection about the ultimate source of being provides order grounding the primacy of ethics over ontic questions. Man’s will to be cannot be separated from his ought to be. Human being completely independent of norm is a figment of one’s imagination”

    It is something like Kant’s “inscrutible X” in the First Critique? But doesn’t his ‘transcendental reasoning’ at least theoretically allow us to trace the insides of the most fundamental norms?

    So ontology is a rather fantastic word altogether then, a symbol with whose only reference can be not-psychological-forms?

  5. First of all a great thanks for taking the time to read my blog, I take great care in both writing it and responding to comments. I hope you find other posts of mine worthy of your time. Nevertheless, I’d like to take a stab at responding to both your question and comment. The most fundamental norms are not discovered by reason, they affirm ‘the intrinsic worth’ of a norm, especially how a norm nuptially orders a reciprocal relation guaranteeing both interiority and finite freedom. In this regard, Kant’s transcendental turn, although formidable, is misleading in its orientation to ‘discover’! This is the false premise of all idealisms.
    Ontology is a symbol, yes, in that’s its orientation is both open and fixed. Perhaps a better word is ‘realism’. Ontology/’ontic’ questioning should never really begin from within the house of idealism. This is the noble lie that Aristotle knew of Plato.
    I am currently writing a very long essay on a critique of Kant, especially the flaws in his writings. I hope you continue to read this blog.

  6. Andrei says:

    It is separate task to show how Heidegger’s thought throughout , especcially in the later phase of this thought, is esentially determined by a species of pantheistic-monistic-theosophical mysticism. So, if you remove this basic dialectical strain from German thought, wich harkens back to German mysticism and beyond it to Pseudo-Dionysius of the sixth century,very little will be left,at least as to the distinctive flavor and cast of this thought.

  7. This is a most persuasive line of thought I’ve read on Heidegger in a long time. I agree with your analysis. I have tried not to find analogous lines of thought outside of Heidegger for fear that I would not truly explain what he was discerning in his thinking, but yes, you’re approach is accurate. ‘Ontic’ thinking only from within the house of idealism is very dangerous! This was my approach. Heidegger became so unhistorical in his thinking one might just as well have studied Oriental poetry lol. I also don’t think it necessary to post an extremely long essay to grasp both his errors and the significance of his writing. All of this grounded my approach to his life’s effort, although he’s worthy of a great read I do find the vast majority of his writing worth passing up.
    Thanks for reading ‘Faith & Reason Collide’

  8. An sich n cooler post, aber kannst beim nachsten mal n bisschen detailierter sein?
    Translation: Cool post, but next time how about more detail?

  9. I apologize for the short post. I did not think any of my current readers would be interested in Heidegger! lol. Yes, it should be longer; however, I think mentioning an ‘anthropology’ is sufficient reference for those who are familiar with criticizing Heidegger’s thought. I promise next time to quarry the elaborate notes which Husserl made on his personal copy of ‘Being and Time’, copies of which are available on Google books. I am sure you’re already familiar with the translation and publication of Husserl’s papers, check out his limited correspondence with Heidegger, especially the margin notes Husserel made on ‘B & T’.

  10. Yes, Edmund Husserl, who though a born a Moravian Jew was baptised a Lutheran. A quite amazing man and mind. Who believed that truth in-itself has the ontological interrelation with being in-itself! Would that he were known and read himself more!

  11. Wow, wonderful thought. Did you get my email? I wrote a column with you in mind at the Center for Morality and Public Life top of page is columnist’s find my name ‘william holland’, I wrote an article titled ‘Politics: The Handmaiden of Theology’, give it a read and let me know what you think.

  12. Bill,

    For some reason, I was not able to open it up? If you have my e-mail, just send it there.

    This is nice!

  13. PS..BTW, Husserl was converted from Judiasm and baptised as a Lutheran in his late 20’s, and Edmund Gustav Albercht was his sponsor. So he has some sense of real Christian aspects.

  14. Its been a while since I read his biography, even though I cut my teeth on both him and Heidegger. Thanks for the insights.

  15. Yes, I follow a bit of the Husserl Circle on line. But I am always a novice.

  16. NOVICE? Hardly. I think you recognize B.S. when you read it. B.S. refers to Barbara Sreisand of course. lol

  17. Yes, I have waded thru my share in this life so far! lol I try to ride above it!

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