Let us think for a while of a farmhouse in the Black Forest, which was built some two hundred years ago by the dwelling of peasants. Here the self-sufficiency of the power to let earth and heaven, divinities and mortals enter in simple oneness into things, ordered the house.
- Martin Heidegger, "Building Dwelling Thinking" (1951)
Schleiermacher's On Religion provided me a kind of Rosetta Stone by which to decipher certain Heideggerian concepts. Heidegger discussed On Religion's Second Address in lectures he gave on religion in 1920-21. I agree with those who believe Schleiermacher's influence remained well into Heidegger's later writings, and I feel that in any event the Second Address informed Heidegger's monism.
Heidegger's later gnomic talk of "the relation of man and space" is more understandable to me if viewed through the prism of Schleiermacher's "third realm" of religious intuition, separate and distinct from either conceptual thought or moral action.
What follows below are H.'s own lecture notes, as recorded in The Phenomenology of Religious Life.
Necessity of a phenomenological attitude toward the religious experience.
“For it belongs to the still ever-developing opposition of contemporary times against the old, that one is never any longer [just] one, rather each is everything. And thus it occurs, as the educated peoples have opened up such a many-sided commerce amongst themselves, that their own particular character in the individual moments of life are no longer surface unmixed, and such that in the sphere of human feeling such a wide-ranging and complete sociability is founded, that” no performance proceeds and takes effect in isolation, but rather is “moved and pulled through by the obliging love and support of the others” and thus it remains most difficult “to differentiate the reigning initiating force in this combination”
—that is, the essential meaning of the performance in its pure essence.
“Thus now everyone can understand each activity of the mind [des Geistes] only insofar as he can, at the same time, find it and observe it within himself."
The reigning intention: Religion
- now a kind of thinking, faith, its own way of observing the world, a theoretical formation;
- now a way of acting, its own lust and love, a special way of comporting oneself, and of moving inwardly, a practical phenomenon.
Religion belongs to both sides.
(Most often, and also now, one appreciated the expressions, the documents of religion according to the profit they yielded for morals and metaphysics, of piety against morality, is first to be shown.)
Thus religion renounces such pretensions and gives everything back what it lent there, or what was imposed upon it from there, so in order to “rightly reveal and situate with determination its original and own particular possession.”
(Elimination of particular positings which carry within themselves an independent teleology; within phenomenology this particular έποχή [epoché] is valid in order to purely isolate out the individual teleologies for themselves.)
“For what is your science of being striving, your science of nature, into which all that is everything real of your theoretical philosophy must still unite itself? To know, I think, the things in their own particular essence; to show the special relationships through which each thing is what it is; to determine each in its position in the whole, and to correctly differentiate it from all the rest; to place everything actual in its mutual conditioned necessity, and to demonstrate the unity of all appearances with their perpetual laws.”
The essence of religion is perceived without community with this knowledge, even if it ascends up to God as the highest order of the lawfulness of being.
“For the measure of knowledge is not the measure of piety.”
(Measure, that is, criterion of value). God placed in the sphere of knowledge, as the ground of the knowing and the known, is not the same as the pious way to have God and to know about him.
Reflection [Betrachtung] is essential to religion, not closed-off stupidity.
Reflection—under this is grasped “the excitement of the mind retracted from everything externally effectual.”
Sense and taste for the infinite = “life of the finite immediately in us, as it is in the infinite.”
Infinite being—with that it is impossible not to imply God. This particular meaning and the respective expression had been avoided,
“because otherwise with the idea itself, a certain kind of representation would have easily emerged, and thus a decision would have been given or at least a critique would have been exercised, about the different ways to think God and world together and separately, which does not belong here at all.”
Foreign teleology, and precisely the most dangerously confusing theoretical one, [is] eliminated.
The point is “to get down into the innermost holiness of life,” where the original relationship of feeling and intuition is to be found.
“But I must refer you to yourselves, to the grasp of a living moment. You must understand, likewise, for your consciousness to, as it were, eavesdrop on, or at least to reconstitute, this state out of the living moment for yourselves. You should notice here the becoming of your consciousness, rather than somehow reflecting on a consciousness that has already become.”
The point is to uncover an original region of life and performance of consciousness (or feeling), in which religion alone realizes itself as a certain form of experience. From there we can read off the elements of religion which, with that, proves to belong neither to a foreign teleology nor to corresponding noetic contexts, and not to be determined in its meaning through them. Religion is to be sharply differentiated from what belongs to it.
Universe—fullness of reality—in uninterrupted flows and operations; all individuals as parts of the whole. Religion is the specifically religiously intentional, emotional reference to each content of experience to an infinite whole as fundamental meaning.
Devotion—original streaming in of fullness, without restraint, letting oneself be excited. To lead back the respective experience into the inner unity of life. Religious life is the constant renewal of this procedure. To act is then the repercussion of this feeling; only acting in its entirety, not each individual act, should be determined in this way.
Mysterious moment of unstructured unity of intuition and feeling, the one without the other being nothing. The noetic moment is itself constitutive for the noematic entire content of experience.
Because any thetic character at all, any claim about being, is lacking, because nothing is decided about something, the fullness of experience stands in a certain neutrality; no object takes precedence over any other. A specific infinity of religious experience is thus given.
History in its most authentic sense is the highest object of religion, religion begins and ends in it. Humanity is to be seen as a living community of individuals in which isolated existence is to be lost.
Do all with religion not from religion. Religion should accompany, like a holy music, all the doings of life.
Ethan Gach says
That image is amazing…oh how I’d love a philosoher exapnsion in the next MTG set.
Of course, at the intersection of MTG and philosophy you’ll find the biggest nerd ever.
Jay Byrd says
The Mystical element in Heidegger’s thought by John Caputo is perdy gut too mon!
Daniel Horne says
Nice, Jay, thanks. I’ve been meaning to look into that one, but can’t find a cheap copy.
Where can I get this philosophers dungeons and dragons game? If I were Heidegger I could rule the world!