Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion: Realism and Cultural Criticism

Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion: Realism and Cultural Criticism

Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion: Realism and Cultural Criticism

Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion: Realism and Cultural Criticism

Synopsis

Throughout his long and controversial career, Martin Heidegger developed a substantial contribution to the phenomenology of religion. In Heidegger's Phenomenology of Religion, Benjamin D. Crowe examines the key concepts and developmental phases that characterized Heidegger's work. Crowe shows that Heidegger's account of the meaning and structure of religious life belongs to his larger project of exposing and criticizing the fundamental assumptions of late modern culture. He reveals Heidegger as a realist through careful readings of his views on religious attitudes and activities. Crowe challenges interpretations of Heidegger's early efforts in the phenomenology of religion and later writings on religion, including discussions of Greek religion and Holderlin's poetry. This book is sure to spark discussion and debate as Heidegger's work in religion and the philosophy of religion becomes increasingly important to scholars and beyond.

Excerpt

This is a book about Heidegger’s phenomenology of religion. At the very least, it should be of interest to scholars of Heidegger’s philosophy and to philosophers of religion. Here at the beginning, however, I would like to make some suggestions about why I think it also might be of more general interest. First, I’ll say a few words about the importance of Heidegger’s philosophy as a whole, and then I’ll indicate why I think his philosophy of religion, in particular, is important.

Heidegger gives voice, in his own dramatic, idiosyncratic way to a sentiment that seems to be prominent among inhabitants of later modern civilization. I have in mind here the general sense of uneasiness, of the absence of something important or significant. One could say that, for many people, there is the sense that things don’t really matter to us late moderns any more, that they don’t have real, independent value of their own. This sentiment surely underlies an array of contemporary cultural phenomena, including, but not limited to, environmentalism, various counter-cultures, the rise of anti-globalization ideologies, and the notable resurgence of traditional expressions of religiosity. This sentiment also finds its way into philosophy, for example, in criticisms of the treatment of certain goods as commodity values and in debates about the value of living things and of ecosystems.

1. See Anderson (1988) and (1993); Taylor (1986), and Callicott (1989).

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