Academic journal article Theological Studies

Heidegger on Death: A Critical Theological Essay

Academic journal article Theological Studies

Heidegger on Death: A Critical Theological Essay

Article excerpt

Heidegger on Death: A Critical Theological Essay. By George Pattison. Intensities: Contemporary Continental Philosophy of Religion. Burlington, VT: Ashgate, 2013. Pp.x+ 170. $109.95; $39.95.

In this delightful little book, Pattison critically explicates Heidegger's interpretation of death (principally as presented in Being and Time, 1927), relating it to multiple aspects of the Christian tradition (preeminent here is Kierkegaard). His goal is to present "the kinds of objections that a Christian response to Heidegger must make if it is to be true to its sources and its hope" (4). Despite this, the book does not confront Heidegger's existential analytic of Dasein with a fully developed counterposition, but through textual analysis teases out Heidegger's weaknesses and points to ways Christian theology offers a richer perspective on death. (This lack of a comprehensive alternative to Heidegger likely stems from the book's origins in a variety of "seminars and conference presentations" [ix]). Its six extraordinarily suggestive chapters can be read on their own without loss of argument, though P. has rewritten them so that they are interrelated.

Of the themes P. develops, two stand out as most important: first, that the Christian doctrine of creation offers a perspective on human passivity "more profound" (52) than Heidegger's perspective; second, that "the ethical claim of the other" (131) is phenomenologically more primordial than Heidegger believes (leading P. …

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