Bound by Disenchantment

In 1927, Martin Heidegger wrote Karl Jaspers, his then still “comrade-in-arms,” a gloomy letter about his last hour with his mother before she died. He expressed agony over a decision that features prominently in Martin Hägglund’s thought-provoking and ambitiously sweeping book, This Life: Secular Faith and Spiritual Freedom: Should we be committed to eternal or finite life? For Heidegger this question turned this last hour into a “lesson in practical philosophy” because his mother asked him a final time to return to Christianity, which made him realize that “the question of theology and philosophy is no longer purely for the writing desk.” Heidegger felt pressed to side with or against his own conviction, with or against his mother, speak or belie the truth. But what is the truth? His commitment to reflection against revelation conflicted with his commitment to the wellbeing of his mother. How can he express his love for his mother and still own up to his secular faith? 

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