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  • Cited by 2
  • Print publication year: 2006
  • Online publication date: March 2007

12 - Heidegger and theology


Heidegger's thought was from the start deeply interwoven with religious and theological concerns. We have recently learned from the searching historical investigations of Hugo Ott the details of Heidegger's early upbringing and education in the Catholic church. Heidegger was born in the conservative, Catholic farmlands of southern, central Germany, and his father was a sexton in St. Martin's Church, which stood across a quaint little courtyard not fifty yards from the Heidegger house. The Heidegger family was steadfastly loyal to the church in the controversy that followed the First Vatican Council when “liberal” Catholics rejected the proclamation of papal infallibility. The youthful Heidegger, brilliant and pious, was marked from the start for the Catholic priesthood. Through a series of scholarships funded by the church, one of which was intended for students seeking to do doctoral work on Thomas Aquinas, the poor but gifted young man was lifted out of these rural farmlands into the eminence of a German university career. Hugo Ott has discovered that Heidegger's earliest publications appeared in 1910-12 in Der Akademiker, an ultraconservative Catholic journal that toed the line of Pope Pius X. There in a series of book reviews the youthful Heidegger, still in his early twenties, spoke out against the danger of “Modernism” to the ageless wisdom of the Catholic tradition. Heidegger cites with approval the saying of “the great [Josef von] Görres”: “Dig deeper and you will find yourself standing on Catholic ground.”

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