Title

The On(c)e and Future God: On Time and the Last God in Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy

Date of Award

December 2014

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Religion

Advisor(s)

Ahmed Meguid

Second Advisor

Frederick Beiser

Keywords

Being, Contributions, Event, God, Heidegger, Time

Subject Categories

Arts and Humanities

Abstract

This thesis addresses the relationship between temporality and the last god in Martin Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy. In doing so, it attempts to answer three questions: 1) How does temporality operate in the Contributions to Philosophy? 2) What is the function of the last god, and how does it relate to Being's temporal structure? 3) How do the last god and temporality tie in with Heidegger's thought on religion in general? (Also a fourth question, that of transcendence, recurs throughout this thesis.)

These questions are investigated over the course of four chapters. In the first chapter, titled "Thinking on the Way," I examine Heidegger's early attempts to answer the question "What is the meaning of Being?" and find that Heidegger's early Catholic influences were decisive for the form of his later inquiries. I then proceed to briefly explain one of these inquiries, Being and Time, by summarizing that work's thoughts on temporality and transcendental philosophy - two notions that are at the heart of Heidegger's "turn" from Being and Time to his later philosophy.

In the second Chapter, "Ungrounded Time," I uncover the religious inspiration for Heidegger's later thoughts on temporality by exploring his early lecture courses on the letters of St Paul. I then proceed to an analysis of a much later essay, "Time and Being," to demonstrate how Heidegger's later temporal thought does and does not change from his earlier thinking. This chapter also contains discussions of Heidegger's notions of "It," "There" and "essence," ideas that are pivotal for the second half of the thesis.

In the third chapter, "The Abyss and the Leap," I discuss and define numerous terms from Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy. Beginning with a discussion of the distinction between "philosophy" and "thinking" in Heidegger's later thought, a discussion that clarifies the sense in which these terms may be considered "structures" of the event, I go on to attempt a clarification of various aspects of the event's temporal structure. The notions of "Being" and "Beyng," "identity," "leap," "gathering," "ground," "truth," "time-space" and "abyss" are all covered. Throughout this discussion, I emphasize the relation of each of these structural terms to a transcendence just outside of finite Being, a transcendence which the temporal event always moves towards but never reaches. This transcendence is discussed as abyssal here, yet the status of this transcendence as necessarily abyssal is questioned in the next chapter.

In the fourth chapter, "O Holy One, I am as Nothing before Thee: On the Event of the Last God," I reinterpret Heidegger's seminal essay "The Onto-Theological Constitution of Metaphysics," claiming that the piece does not reject onto-theology but instead asks about the experience of Being that onto-theological metaphysics was rooted in. Onto-theology, I argue, represents not a problematic remainder but a possibility, the structural outline of how we might understand God in another age. (Over the course of this interpretation, I also argue that the event of finite Being should be reconceived through this essay as the event of difference, the differing of infinite Being.) Until then, however, we experience the "default" of God, an age of atheism. Yet this age, I argue, does not have final say: God may still reveal Godself to us if we look for the Divine, if we await a revelatory experience. The last god is just such an experience: it is an experience which moves us out of the confines of our individual event, moving us unto the Godhead itself. The job of one who "thinks," of one who poetizes, is to await this experience, to prepare humanity for God's coming through the experience of a revelatory event, through the experience of the last god.

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