Winter 2005

‘Wie kommt der Mensch in die Theologie?’: Heidegger, Hegel, and the Stakes of Onto-Theo-Logy

D. C. Schindler

“While the critique of ontotheology would have thinking first attempt to rid itself of idols, a dramatic view of reason would have it seek instead to enter more deeply into the movement that is always-already underway, and thus this view presupposes a positive relation to God that is more fundamental than the negative or neutral.”

The question that Heidegger raises at the end of a seminar on Hegel given in 1957,2 namely, “Wie kommt der Gott in die Philosophie?” (“How does the god enter philosophy?”), has been echoing and re- echoing in theology, and even more in Continental philosophy of religion, so incessantly that it may be said to have acquired something like the authority of tradition.3  To be sure, on its face the question simply asks after the relationship between God and human thinking, or how and to what extent God is accessible to reason, but Heidegger himself raises the question as a problem specifically within the context of his profound and extensive critique of Western metaphysics. The question, How does the god enter philosophy? he explains, “leads back to the question, What is the origin of the onto- theological essential constitution of metaphysics?” (ID, 56). As we will see more fully below, God’s entering—or perhaps we ought to say his being dragged—into the ambit of human thinking is the determining event in the Western metaphysical tradition.


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1. This essay was originally published in the Revista Española de Teología 4 (2005).

2. The concluding lecture, entitled “The Onto-Theo-Logical Constitution of Metaphysics” and delivered 24 February 1957, was published together with a lecture called “The Principle of Identity” in Identität und Differenz (Pfullingen: Verlag Günther Neske, 1957). References in this essay will be drawn from the English translation: Identity and Difference (hereafter: ID), trans. Joan Stambaugh (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1969).