Earth and Gods: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Martin Heidegger


The Earth and the Gods are strange problems for philosophical investigation. The earth seems to be too obvious, too real to become a philosophical problem; and the gods, on the other hand, are too unreal to be of any interest for philosophical consideration; they can only have a religious, mythological, or possibly a poetical importance.

Nevertheless, these problems are highly Heideggerian problems. Born in the German Black Forest, Heidegger, of peasant stock, has vigorous earthbound thinking; yet, standing with his feet set firmly on the earth, he is able to reach up high to the stars, unto the realm of the gods. Often he seems to be somewhat poetical rather than philosophical. Nevertheless, in all his problems he remains a philosopher of the world, a profound ontologician, and a thorough realist.

"Poetically dwells man on the earth" -- a line from a poet who was highly respected by Heidegger -- can well characterize Heidegger's thinking: his thinking is poetical, yet earthbound.


In contemporary philosophy Martin Heidegger possesses an outstanding place. He is usually considered to be a philosopher belonging to the circle of existentialists. Heidegger himself, however, resists such a classification and rather stands alone. None of the philosophers, so far as they are true philosophers, is identical in his thinking with that of any other philosopher. However, there is usually some similarity in problematic or philosophical attitude among philosophers so that they can be grouped or classified to a greater or lesser degree into certain families of thinkers. Heidegger does not fit into any group; he actually stands alone and somewhat apart from all the philosophers of history. Often he seems not to even be a philosopher. To Karl Löwith, Heidegger's thought seems to be "essentially religious, however not Christianly . . .

Additional information

Publisher: Place of publication:
  • The Hague
Publication year:
  • 1961


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