Religion after Metaphysics

By Mark A. Wrathall | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
The “end of metaphysics” as a possibility

Jean-Luc Marion

Translated by Daryl Lee

The reference to what is unthought in philosophy is not a criticism of
philosophy.1

More than a thesis, the “end of metaphysics” announces itself as a theme – the theme of a question, and of a question that remains yet open. That this phrase is most often misunderstood, and only taken in a polemical sense, simply betrays a twofold ignorance: that of the disguised, complex, and paradoxical history of the concept of “metaphysics,” and that of Heidegger's long and complex meditation on the phrase, “end of metaphysics.” Having attempted to assess the first term elsewhere,2 in this chapter I would like to clarify the second.3

The most perfect misinterpretation possible regarding what Heidegger is attempting to think under the title of “end of metaphysics”4 would consist of ascribing to it the reductive slogans of the usual iconoclasms; the ones, moreover – regularly refuted by real thinking – according to which metaphysics has already disappeared, or will surely disappear soon, or again should have disappeared, or in any case has no right to continue, to the point, finally, where it must be gotten rid of (for example, Hume, the Enlightenment, Comte, or Carnap, etc.). For Heidegger, on the contrary, it is essentially a matter of understanding that “this 'overcoming of metaphysics' does not abolish metaphysics.”5 This is so for two principal reasons. First, because if metaphysics is coming to an end today, the time for the “ending (Verendung) lasts longer than the previous history of metaphysics”6 – in other words, we will not be finished with metaphysics by thinking its overcoming, but are obligated to dwell within this overcoming as if within an epoch of thinking, an epoch that will continue. Next, because “with the end of philosophy, thinking is not also at its end, but in transition to another beginning”7 – in other words, we will only linger within the overcoming of metaphysics in order to prepare or wait for a revival of thinking (or of philosophy) itself.

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