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Heidegger's Critique of Aquinas on Truth: A Critical Assessment



Few more sophisticated or more divergent treatments of the relation between truth and the divine are to be found than those offered in the writings of Thomas Aquinas and Martin Heidegger. This paper traces the differing approaches of these two thinkers in order to attempt a partial elucidation of that relation. One motivation for this contrastive analysis is the conviction that recent treatments of Heidegger's readings of Aquinas have tended too hastily to deny the possibility of fruitful or substantive dialogue between them. In contrast to these accounts, I argue that Heidegger's three central criticisms of Aquinas’ conception of truth – that it posits a subject-oriented and representionalist theory of knowledge, an unwarranted intellectualism, and an ontotheological grounding of truth's objectivity – paradoxically expose vulnerable flanks in his own constructive account. The argument proceeds by way of: (i) an exposition of these three strands of Heidegger's critique, focusing inter alia on some overlooked lectures delivered during the composition of Sein und Zeit; and (ii) a critical assessment of those strands by reference to relevant passages in Aquinas’ writings on truth.

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