Philosophy and the Humanities
Date: 11 November 2009
Denis McManus (Southampton):
Heidegger, Wittgenstein and the Last Judgement
The paper examines some of Heidegger’s early reflections on religious belief. It focuses on his lectures on St Paul and on the latter’s remarks on the Last Judgment in particular. The reading offered illustrates, and thus helps to refine the identity of, a particular kind of recognizably ‘phenomenological’ reflection, which, firstly, can be expected to have an ontological pay-off, secondly, lacks immediate idealist consequences and, thirdly, naturally expresses itself in part through the critical use of the notion of a ‘theoretical attitude’. But this reading also points to a number of difficulties, which I bring into focus through an identification of some remarkable similarities between Heidegger’s remarks and remarks of Wittgenstein’s also on the Last Judgment. In this way, these early reflections of Heidegger’s can be seen to raise in new but concrete forms more familiar worries about his better known writings – not least Being and Time – as well as suggesting potentially useful ways of looking at those worries.