Defense Date


Graduation Date

Fall 2004


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





McAnulty College and Graduate School of Liberal Arts

Committee Chair

William Thompson-Uberuaga

Committee Member

Anne M. Clifford

Committee Member

George S. Worgul

Committee Member

Marie L. Baird


Godlessness, Heidegger and God, Holderlin and Heidegger, Nietzsche and Heidegger, Phenomenology and God, Problem of God


Martin Heidegger was a central figure in 20th century Western philosophy. In evaluating his work from the perspective of the early 21st century it is clear that his influence crossed disciplinary lines. This work aims to address one area where Heidegger's thinking has had tremendous impact -- theology. Specifically, Heidegger's later writings are selectively examined in order to determine the bearing they have on the issue of God.

The route to God, in a strict confessional sense, is neither easy nor direct in the Heideggerian corpus. As a result, the first methodological tack used throughout this study establishes Heidegger's abiding thematic interests. Only after appreciating the continuity and context of his work can tentative and cautious theological applications be made as the second methodological tack. This approach simultaneously upholds the integrity of Heidegger's thought and protects the theological discipline from speculative forays antithetical to its mission. The hope is that the later Heidegger will be seen as a productive and engaging dialogue partner for theology. His voice deepens theology's traditional discourse about God as well as challenges modes of expression that are exclusivistic and ineffectual in the postmodern era.

The following structure exposes the outreach of the later Heideggerian oeuvre to theological thought regarding God. The first two chapters contextualize Heidegger. Chapter one situates Heidegger on the stage of Western philosophy with the distinction of having creatively raised the question of the meaning of Being to a new level of urgency. Chapter two identifies two formative influences from Heidegger's very early career -- phenomenology and a course load involving religious topics.

The third and fourth chapters make connections between the later texts and God. Chapter three introduces the importance of poetry (Hölderlin and Trakl) and the dynamics of poetics. The venturesome poet inhabits the "between" and restores authentic human dwelling as measured against the Godhead. Chapter four further develops Hölderlin's significance and introduces Nietzsche's importance for exposing the challenge of godlessness (elusiveness and absence) during the needy time: the gods have fled and God is dead.

The Reprise recapitulates the salient themes presented and recommends promising areas for future research.