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Abstract

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. I. DA-SEIN AS THE GROUND OF FUTURITY
  4. II. THE GIFT OF TIME: BEING AS A DAIMONIC SITE
  5. III. GIVENNESS AND THE LAST GOD

Since its publication in 1989, Martin Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy has continued to produce animated debate with regard to the radical sense of futurity which defines and structures this text. In this essay, I first draw into question the common Nietzschean framing of this futurity and argue that the temporality of this futurity should be interpreted within the context of Heidegger's often overlooked descriptions of this coming time as granted by the last god. It is this anticipated gift that can be seen to constitute the hermeneutic center around which the whole of Contributions is composed. In the final section, I then offer a critique of Heidegger's account of the relation between his last god and its granted time in terms of the givenness of a gift.

By all accounts, Martin Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy (1936-38)1 is an exceedingly difficult and important work. Within Heidegger's œuvre, Contributions is widely considered to be second in importance only to his seminal Being and Time. However, almost twenty years after Contributions' original publication, discussion of this work still largely centers upon the question of how it should be approached. Indeed, which hermeneutic presuppositions are appropriate for engaging a text which explicitly rejects all traditional forms of philosophical writing? More exactly, a text whose esoteric core seems to be a futurity which chronological time does not bring closer – a futurity beyond all that could ever be. Not surprisingly, one of the most common strategies in the reception of this text has been to focus on the more familiar term ‘Da-sein’ and articulate the ways in which Heidegger's use of this term in Contributions differs from its earlier meaning in Being and Time.2 This frame of reference is unquestionably justified in that it at once gives expression to the continuity between Heidegger's two major works, and yet allows the many crucial differences to come clearly into view. Traditionally, such comparative studies have articulated two major differences between the Dasein of Being and Time and the now hyphenated Da-sein of Contributions. Firstly, whereas in Being and Time Dasein was the starting point for a fundamental ontology, in Contributions Da-sein describes what human beings must become.3 In the opening paragraph of Contributions, Heidegger calls for ‘an essential transformation of the human from ‘rational animal’ (animal rationale) to Da-sein’.4 Secondly, whereas in Being and Time the temporality of Dasein was understood as the horizon for the question of being, in Contributions Da-sein is understood as standing within the more original openness of being itself.

In Contributions the displacement of human being beyond metaphysics and into Da-sein, understood as standing within the truth of being, marks the arrival of a future kind of humanity: ‘[k]nowing as preserving the truth of what holds true (preserving the essential sway of the truth in Da-sein) distinguishes future man (vis-à-vis the hitherto rational animal) and lifts him into the guardianship of be-ing’.5 However, it is significant that Heidegger stipulates that this future sense of Da-sein as the guardian of be-ing is futural only vis-à-vis the metaphysical humanity it would overcome. While the transformation into Da-sein unquestionably defines a future humanity, what has often been overlooked in treatments of the meaning of Da-sein in Contributions is the degree to which Heidegger understood the displacement of human being into Da-sein as merely preparatory for a wholly other future humanity and history. The transformation of human being into Da-sein as ‘seeker, preserver, guardian’6 should in fact be read as merely what opens the possibility for human beings to then receive a wholly other futurity which Heidegger describes as granted only in the wake of the passing of the last god. What is at issue in the articulation of these two senses of futurity is the important difference between an understanding of human being as in essence being relatedness and the further framing of our being relatedness as a medium through which human beings are able to receive a time and futurity which is given by the divine. As I will argue, the sense of futurity which structures and ultimately defines Heidegger's Contributions should be understood as a time that is granted by the passing of the last god.

My argumentation in this essay is arranged in three sections. In the first section, I briefly present the common Nietzschean framing of Contributions' characterization of the human essence in terms of futurity. I then present one of the most serious difficulties encountered by this approach. In the second section, I offer an alternative framing of the way in which Heidegger understood Da-sein as the ground for a possible coming future. Rather than a Nietzschean framing of this futurity, I argue that the time-space of being should be approached as a daimonic site for the reception of a wholly other history which is granted by the last god. Although the last god's granting of a specific historical continuity of time in the medium of being can be seen as the ultimate hermeneutic context for understanding the movement and composition of Contributions, this context has been largely overlooked in the reception of this text. In the final section, I then present two specific reservations regarding Heidegger's account of the last god's relation to this granted time as the expression of a gratuitous act.

I. DA-SEIN AS THE GROUND OF FUTURITY

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. I. DA-SEIN AS THE GROUND OF FUTURITY
  4. II. THE GIFT OF TIME: BEING AS A DAIMONIC SITE
  5. III. GIVENNESS AND THE LAST GOD

That Contributions is Heidegger's most Nietzschean text is a hermeneutic presupposition that has long guided the reception of this work. It would seem that the clearest example of Heidegger's proximity to Nietzsche in Contributions is the fundamental characterization of the human essence in terms of possibility and futurity. And indeed, many of Heidegger's descriptions of this futurity are couched in explicitly Nietzschean terms: ‘Those who are going-under [die Unter-gehenden] in the essential sense are those who are suffused with what is coming (what is futural) and sacrifice themselves to it as its future invisible ground.’7 While of course Nietzsche did not think the truth of being, the figuration of what is most essentially human as a possibility seems to structure Heidegger's understanding of Da-sein as the ground of a future humanity. On this reading, Da-sein as the ownmost capacity of the human essence is understood as the source of what is futural for human being. Miguel de Beistegui is representative of this common interpretation. Referring to the Da-sein of Contributions he states:

Heidegger is attempting to rescue a humanity based on the essence of man, an essence that consists in nothing more, but nothing else also, than an originary openness to the truth of being. […] Da-sein […] names this possibility for man, this possibility that man really is. It is not just any possibility, but the possibility that designates man in his essence, in what the language of Being and Time would have characterized as his ownmost can-be or Seinkönnen.8

On de Bestegui's reading, this possibility that defines the essence of human being is a possibility that human being as Da-sein always already is:

The future man, or the man to come, is not the man who is announced, or promised, the man who will come. Nor is he, for that matter, the man whose coming is hoped for. Rather, he is the man who is already coming, approaching. Yet this future is not approaching from any present, albeit from a present that is not yet. Rather, it signals the ‘to come’ within the human, the possible that is already there.9

The sense of futurity in both Nietzsche's and Heidegger's understanding of what is ownmost to human being is of course not to be construed merely chronologically as a possibility that will later become actualized. For Heidegger, the essence of human being is nothing other than its belongingness to being. However, can it be said that this belongingness always already contains the full sense of futurity and possibility with which Heidegger describes future humanity in Contributions? Heidegger clearly states: ‘Da-sein means the ground of the possibility of future humanness.’10 However, this understanding of our belongingness to being as always already containing what is possible for human being has been hard to reconcile with Heidegger's descriptions of this future humanity as something wholly different: ‘In commencing a preparedness for crossing from the end of the first beginning into the other beginning, it is not as if man simply enters a ‘period’ that has not yet been, but it is rather that man enters a totally different domain of history.’11 This ambiguity is reflected in de Beistegui's account when he states that Da-sein is both ‘what man always and already is’12 and at the same time ‘a wholly different humanity’.13 How can Da-sein, as a figuration of our belongingness to being, hold within itself what is both merely latent and wholly different?14

While Heidegger clearly maintains that Da-sein is the ground for the futurity proper to human being, this should not be interpreted as saying that Da-sein already contains what is possible. Rather, these descriptions should be read as claiming that it is only as Da-sein that human beings can be receptive to the granting of a different historical continuity of time and, within this, a different futurity. As I will now argue, this sense of ‘to come’ is not a futurity that is always already approaching, nor a latent power of Da-sein, but rather, a future that comes to human being only via the last god's employment of the time-space of being as a site for the granting of a wholly different time.

II. THE GIFT OF TIME: BEING AS A DAIMONIC SITE

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. I. DA-SEIN AS THE GROUND OF FUTURITY
  4. II. THE GIFT OF TIME: BEING AS A DAIMONIC SITE
  5. III. GIVENNESS AND THE LAST GOD

Throughout Contributions Heidegger describes the displacement and transformation of metaphysical man into Da-sein as a future form of humanity. However, Heidegger does not describe this future humanity as wholly different. The sense of future humanity and history which Heidegger designates as wholly different is not the result of a capacity for displacement or transformation, but rather is described as granted by the passing of the last god: ‘If a history is still to be granted [geschenkt] to us, i.e., a style of Da-sein, then this can only be the sheltered history of deep stillness, in and as which the mastery of the last god opens and shapes beings.’15 Heidegger explicitly describes this history as something that is bestowed and that is received: ‘it receives [erhält] its history as apportioned in the finding of its god’.16 By collapsing this second, more profound sense of futurity into Da-sein as a ground that already contains this possibility, the actual scope of Heidegger's descriptions of a future humanity is constricted and moreover rendered ambiguous.

Rather than a Nietzschean framing of Da-sein as the always already given power of the possible within human being, the sense of futurity in Heidegger's understanding of human being in Contributions should be read as a departure from this anthropocentric understanding of Da-sein. While Nietzsche is, after Hölderlin, Heidegger's most intimate interlocutor in Contributions, Nietzsche remains, with respect to the ultimate achievements of Contributions, the furthest away.17 In many ways, the understanding of the possible and the ‘to come’, as already encapsulated within the human as its ownmost creative power, is exactly what the thought of Contributions is attempting to move beyond. By properly articulating the difference between Da-sein as a figure of preparation which inabides in the time-space of being and the future Da-sein that is given in the wake of the passing of the last god, a more adequate and consistent reading of Heidegger's position becomes possible.

While Heidegger describes the transformation of metaphysical human being into Da-sein as what is most urgently needed, the proper frame for understanding this need is not only the belongingness of human being to being, but additionally the construal of our being relatedness as a medium for receiving a different history which is granted by the divine.18 Accordingly, the transformation of human being into Da-sein as a holding within the truth of being is described in Contributions as solely a preparatory state for this receptivity to the divine:

By way of grounding Da-sein, man is transformed (seeker, preserver, guardian). This transformation opens up the space for other necessities of deciding the nearness and remoteness of gods.19 If thanks to this displacing man comes to stand in enowning and has his abode in the truth of be-ing, then he is primarily still only ready for the leap into the deciding experience whether, within enowning, it is god's staying away or god's onset that decides for or against god.20

A close reading of Contributions demonstrates that what is at issue in Heidegger's calls for the displacement of human being beyond constricted images of its essence as something extant, living, or perpetually self-overcoming, is that these interpretations not only obscure our being relatedness but, more crucially, close off the possibility of being open to the reception of a wholly different history which would be given through the passing of the last god. Throughout Contributions it is the futurity of this still to be granted history that is explicitly contrasted with the metaphysical interpretation of futurity as a later state that is progressed towards within linear chronology: ‘But progress has no future, because it only transports the heretofore ‘further’ on its own track.’21 The futurity which Contributions is a transition towards is a futurity that is not already approaching the historically thematized present, but rather a future that is first opened within what Heidegger describes as the site of the moment.

One of the most important, although often overlooked contexts for interpreting Heidegger's Contributions is its understanding of being as a daimonic site of mediation through which the last god grants a history to human being. For Heidegger, the proper preparedness and openness for this granting is attained only via the transformation of human being into Da-sein. Through Da-sein human being belongs to being, and it is through being as a daimonic site that human beings can encounter what is granted by the divine: ‘Be-ing holds sway as enowning. This is the ground and abground for god's disposing on man and, in turn, for man's disposing unto god. But this disposal is born up only in Da-sein.’22 For Heidegger, the humanism of metaphysics has not only forgotten our being relatedness as the proper context for thinking the essence of the human, moreover with the loss of our relation to being, humanity also forgoes the possibility of entering, via being, into a relatedness with the divine: ‘God is neither ‘a being’ nor a ‘not-being’– and also not commensurate with be-ing. Rather be-ing holds sway, temporally-spatially, as that ‘between’ [Zwischen] that can never be grounded in god but also not in man as extant and living – but in Da-sein.’23 However, the temporality of being which Da-sein abides within may not be understood as the merely given dimensionality within which Contributions' ultimate sense of futurity is already approaching. Rather, as Heidegger stresses, the time-space of being, as it is thought in relation to a possible future history, must be understood as a daimonic site between Da-sein and the last god: ‘Enowning is the between with regard to the passing of god and the history of man.’24 Accordingly, this daimonic framing of being is the proper context for understanding Contributions' descriptions of the Da-sein that could receive this futurity – the Da-sein which Heidegger terms ‘the ones to come’.

In Contributions, the Da-sein which is to be prepared for and which would be able to receive a wholly different future is described as the Da-sein of the ‘ones to come’ [die Zu-künftigen]. This term also contains the sense of being those toward whom something comes. It is this character of reception that must be seen as key for understanding the temporality and sense of futurity proper to this figuration of Da-sein. The importance which Heidegger accorded the role of these futural ones within the overall structure of Contributions is unequivocal: ‘All of these joinings must be sustained in such a onefold, from within the inabiding in Da-sein, which distinguishes the being of those who are to come.’25‘Da-sein: What is it other than grounding the being of these beings, grounding the being of the ones to come who belong to the last god?’26 In other words, the entire movement of Contributions is defined from out of the sense of preparation figured by the ones to come. However, while these futural ones hold themselves in the openness of the time-space of being, the most profound sense of their futurity cannot be read at the level of any already given dimension of temporality. Unlike Heidegger's earlier understanding of the moment of vision [Augenblick] in Being and Time, the site of the moment [Augenblicksstätte] in Contributions is not a power of Da-sein. Rather, this temporality must be understood as a medium for the reception of a different time that is neither a capacity of Da-sein nor merely latent within the time-space of being itself.

Throughout Contributions Heidegger calls for the preparation of the site of the moment for the passing of the last god: ‘If a history is ever to be allotted [beschieden] to us again, […] then we cannot turn away from this destiny, namely to prepare the time-space for the final [letzten] decision […].’27 However, the way in which this site is the ground for the opening of a wholly different futurity is not to be understood in terms of any immanent or given characteristic of the temporality of this site. The time of the last god is a wholly other time because, although it is granted in the time-space of being, these dimensions do not function as merely inert conditions of possibility for the reception of this time, but rather as a daimonic site for the reception of what was not simply already immanent in that time-space. It is only within this daimonic framing of the time-space of being as itself a site for the reception of a different time that Contributions' ultimate and inner-most sense of futurity can be understood.

The futurity, which structures the movement of Contributions and in relation to which this text is explicitly composed as a thinking in transition, is neither a time that has ever touched the continuity of our present historical epoch nor the time-space of being. This futurity towards which Contributions is oriented in its preparations is not distanced from the present in terms of any chronological reckoning nor merely immanent dimensionality of time-space. The futurity which Contributions is a preparation for is not a time that can even be awaited, but rather, perhaps more properly expressed, is a time and futurity that must be understood in relation to an event of dispensation that originates from beyond the abysmal ground of time-space itself. Accordingly, this temporality must be interpreted within the context of Heidegger's descriptions of the relatedness of the last god to being in terms of a granting. However, as I will now argue, the radicality of Heidegger's separation of the last god from being must be seen to draw into question his ability to characterize the time of the last god as truly given.

III. GIVENNESS AND THE LAST GOD

  1. Top of page
  2. Abstract
  3. I. DA-SEIN AS THE GROUND OF FUTURITY
  4. II. THE GIFT OF TIME: BEING AS A DAIMONIC SITE
  5. III. GIVENNESS AND THE LAST GOD

While Heidegger can be seen to have organized the whole of Contributions as a cultivation of preparedness to receive a wholly different history from a wholly different god, exactly his characterization of this dispensation as a gift must be drawn into question at two levels. Firstly and most simply, in light of the specific pre-conditions that Heidegger understands as necessary for his last god to manifest itself, to what degree can the reception of this time be understood as the reception of something that has been granted? Secondly, and perhaps more substantially, on what basis can Heidegger describe the given time of the last god as the expression of an anterior act of giving that is meaningfully gratuitous? Since it would seem that in order for this manifestation of a wholly different time to be interpreted as granted, a context of reference which would characterize the last god's relation to being would already have to be in place. However, this anteriority of the last god to being is something that Heidegger at once presupposes and yet does not allow to be characterized by any qualitative determinations outside of the neuter and abstract description of the last god as ‘needing’ being in order to be encountered by human beings. While Heidegger is unquestionably attempting to think a more divine god who is liberated from any determinate relatedness to being, as I will argue, the radicality with which Heidegger separates the last god from being can be seen to undermine his descriptions of its relation to being in terms of granting.

With respect to the first reservation, although Heidegger repeatedly describes the coming possible history as one that is given, this granting is clearly made contingent upon the prior preparation of an appropriate dimensionality for the god to manifest itself within. While Heidegger understands the dimensionality of being as a middle site to which humans can be related and a realm within which the divine can manifest itself and simultaneously preserve its proper dimension of concealment, this site remains a precondition for the god's self-deployment. Although Heidegger is clear that the time-space of being is not a site which would contain the god itself, he still understands this site as a prerequisite for the god's manifestation. In the final paragraph of the joining entitled ‘The Last God’, which in its original form was the final paragraph of Contributions, we are left with the image of the last god as waiting on us: ‘How few know that god awaits the grounding of the truth of be-ing and thus awaits man's leaping-into Da-sein.’28 In spite of the fact that the god itself remains wholly other and incomparable to being, the sense in which human beings, and the philosopher in particular, are understood as required to prepare a site for the god's granting of another time can be seen to introduce a dialectic of exchange and ontological enabling in relation to which the quality of this granting as a gift is unquestionably relativized. However, the most problematic aspect of Heidegger's descriptions of a coming gift at the center of his Contributions can be seen to derive from the radicality with which Heidegger severs all intelligibility of the relatedness of his last god to being itself.

Heidegger's thinking in the period of Contributions is undoubtedly guided by the attempt to envision a more divine god which would be untainted by what he took to be the idolatrous concepts of the onto-theological tradition. Perhaps the most extreme expression of this strategy of liberating god not only from metaphysically conceived being but also from reduction to the space opened by the question of the truth of being is Heidegger's further description of being as merely the site for the god's possible manifestation. The anteriority of the god itself with respect to the space of being in which it deploys itself is described by Heidegger with only one qualitative determination. With respect to the last god, being is described as what the god ‘needs’ or ‘uses’ in order for the manifestations of the god to become encounterable by human beings. Unquestionably, this severance of all but this one abstract characterization of the relation between god and being is an attempt on Heidegger's part to move beyond what he has described as the ultimately idolatrous language of the onto-theological tradition in which the highest metaphysical concepts were accorded to god itself. Heidegger's thought of the last god is explicitly a departure from the attempt to predicate the divine with concepts such as the highest being or the creator of being. While being in the metaphysical tradition was understood to bear a trace of having been given by a creator god which in itself was anterior to being, this relatedness is explicitly denied in Heidegger's thinking of a more divine god. Heidegger's god is described as giving through the alien topos of being in which the god is implicated only via the neutral concept of need. However, to what degree can Heidegger's account of this absolute alterity of the god itself, with respect to its manifestations in being, still allow for these manifestations to be contextualized as the expression of an earlier instance of giving and not as merely neutral occurrences?

Heidegger clearly describes the last god in itself as anterior to being, indeed, waiting for being. However, would not some reference to this god within the sphere of being already need to be in place in order for this god to be connected to the time it sends in terms of a granting? On the terms of Heidegger's account, the medium of being is the earliest site for this god's manifestation, and yet, this site is so abysmally severed from the god itself that the only reference from being to the god is that being is needed by the god. And yet, in order to support any intelligibility of the time of the last god as a time that is given, it would be necessary for Heidegger's account to admit of a characterization of the anteriority of the last god with respect to being in qualitative terms. In the metaphysical tradition, givenness was incarnated as a trace in being which referred to the anteriority of a god that was personal and as such admitted of understanding in terms such as gratuity, grace, fullness, and charity. However, Heidegger's account does not allow for any of these incarnated references to the god's anteriority in terms of a specific personal god. On Heidegger's account, being does not bear the trace of a god that would contextualize its manifestations as the expression of a gratuitous act. Accordingly, it must be asked on what basis Heidegger then qualifies the manifestation of the time of the last god as a gift, when on the terms of his own analysis his rejection of all personalism in the description of his last god also entails the rejection of any meaningful sense of the enacting of a gift of givenness. In order to think the givenness of the time of the last god, it would be necessary to contextualize this givenness with respect to the anteriority of the god in qualitative terms as the source of an act of gratuitous address. At best, the manifestation of the time of the last god within being would be a manifestation sealed in mystery; however, this bare fact of appearance is not the same as a givenness that has been bestowed as a gift.

The sense of middle which Heidegger's thinking in Contributions to Philosophy attempts to open is a sense of mediation where the visible and the invisible, being and the divine might touch, and the relatedness of the human and the divine be given a wholly new figuration. And yet, while Heidegger unquestionably relies upon a religious sense of mediation to structure his thinking, without any real presence or incarnation of givenness on the part of his last god in the medium of being, his borrowings from the religious meaning of mediation remain at the level of a merely philosophical dimension of mediation.

Footnotes
  1. 1 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions to Philosophy (From Enowning); translated by Emad, P. and Maly, K. (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 1999).

    Heidegger, Martin: Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), Gesamtausgabe Band 65 (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1989).

  2. 2 Cf. Vallega-Neu, Daniela: Heidegger'sContributions to Philosophy’: An Introduction; (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2003). de Beistegui, Miguel: The Transformation of the Sense of Dasein in Heidegger's Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), in: Research in Phenomenology 33 (2003), pp. 221–246. de Beistegui, Miguel: Truth and Genesis: Philosophy as Differential Ontology (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2004). Polt, Richard: The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press, 2006). Ruin, Hans: Contributions to Philosophy, in: Dreyfus, H. and Wrathall, M. (eds.): A Companion to Heidegger (Oxford: Blackwell, 2005), pp. 358–374.

  3. 3 Walter Brogan expresses this well when he states: ‘Contributions is haunted by an eschatological voice that addresses the coming, the advent of what is to come. In Contributions, Da-sein itself is yet to come’. Da-sein and the Leap of Being, in: Scott, C.; Schoenbohm, S.; Vallega-Neu, D.; Vallega, A. (eds.): Companion to Heidegger's Conributions to Philosophy (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press 2001), p. 179.

  4. 4 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 3.

  5. 5 Ibid. p. 43.

  6. 6 Ibid. p. 163. The English translation of Wächter as simply ‘guardian’ creates the impression that Da-sein is merely guarding something that is already in its possession. In fact, the sense of this term is perhaps the opposite in that Da-sein as Wächter describes a cultivated state of preparedness and alertness for an event that is still to come, i.e., the self-deployment of the last god in the medium being.

  7. 7 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 278. Beiträge, p. 397.

  8. 8 de Beistegui, Miguel: The Transformation of the Sense of Dasein in Heidegger's Beiträge zur Philosophie (Vom Ereignis), in: Research in Phenomenology 33 (2003), p. 240.

  9. 9 de Beistegui, Miguel: Truth and Genesis (Bloomington: Indiana Univ. Press, 2004), p. 134.

  10. 10 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 209.

  11. 11 Ibid. p. 161.

  12. 12 de Beistegui, Truth, p. 132.

  13. 13 Ibid. p. 135.

  14. 14 Richard Polt has recently pointed out this contradiction; however, the solution that he offers remains insufficient because it does not address the futurity granted by the passing of the last god. Whereas Polt rightly questions de Beistegui's reading by asking: ‘How can we think that we are ‘always already’ there without draining be-ing and being-there of their urgency’? [Polt, Richard: The Emergency of Being: On Heidegger's Contributions to Philosophy (Ithaca: Cornell Univ. Press 2006), p. 220.] His suggestion that this contradiction can be solved by claiming that be-ing is at once what is always already there and yet what is still to be sought does not adequately express the sense in which being is a medium for the reception of a possibility that is not simply sought but is granted by the last god.

  15. 15 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 25. Beiträge, p. 34.

  16. 16 Ibid. p. 279. Beiträge, p. 252.

  17. 17 With the recent publication of materials from the Nietzsche ‘Arbeitskreis’ which Heidegger held simultaneously with the second Nietzsche lecture course in the Spring of 1937, a clearer picture of the actual distance which Heidegger had taken from Nietzsche in this period has come into view. While Heidegger was initially reading Nietzsche through the lens of Hölderlin and from the perspective of the question of a coming God, in early 1937 Heidegger finds that despite Nietzsche's intimations of a coming divinity, the central importance of the concept of ‘life’ in Nietzsche's thought would seal Nietzsche's thought into a fatal continuity with the tradition he sought to overcome: ‘God is dead – against this only creating life as opposing god. […]‘Life' – as the eternal creating– the opposing god.’ [‘Gott ist tot – dagegen nur noch das Schaffende Leben als Gegengott. […] DasLeben' – als das ewig Schaffende– der Gegengott’]. Heidegger, Martin: Nietzsche Seminare 1937 und 1944; von Ruckteschell, Peter (ed.): Gesamtausgabe, Band 87 (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 2004), p. 6. My translation.

  18. 18 The proper background for understanding Heidegger's conception of the relatedness of human being and the divine as a context for the question of time and futurity is his appropriation of Hölderlin's poetic expression of this relatedness as a conversation. In his 1934 Hölderlin lecture course Heidegger states: ‘[W]e are a temporally determined, historically initiating conversation […] only since such a conversation takes place is there time and history at all …’ [W]ir sind ein zeitlich bestimmtes, geschichtlich anhebendes Gespräch […] seit solches Gespräch geschieht, istüberhaupt erst Zeit und Geschichte […].' Heidegger, Martin: Hölderlins Hymnen, Germanien' und, Der Rhein’; Ziegler, Susanne (hg.): Gesamtausgabe, Band 39 (Frankfurt am Main: Klostermann, 1980), p. 69. My translation.

  19. 19 Heidegger, Contributions, p. 163.

  20. 20 Ibid. p. 19.

  21. 21 Ibid. p. 79.

  22. 22 Ibid. p. 181.

  23. 23 Ibid. pp. 185.

  24. 24 Ibid. p. 20.

  25. 25 Ibid. p. 57.

  26. 26 Ibid. p. 279. Unfortunately, this crucial link between the ones to come and the last god has been obscured in the currently available English translation. Whereas the English has 'as preparation for ‘the ones to come’ and for ‘the last god’' [Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 6], the German has ‘als Vorbereitung der ‘Zukünftigen’‘des letzten Gottes’’ [Heidegger, Martin: Beiträge, p. 7]. In the original, Heidegger is describing the ones to come as belonging to the last god.

  27. 27 Heidegger, Martin: Contributions, p. 10. Beiträge, p. 13.

  28. 28 Ibid. p. 293.