File spoon-archives/heidegger.archive/heidegger_2001/heidegger.0105, message 36

Date: Sat, 26 May 2001 07:42:20 -0400 (EDT)


Let  us try this again without the computer chewing it up, erasing what I
wrote, and then sending it all on its own. Also, do not grow old. I have had
numerous lessons repeatly instilled into my flesh lately once again
reasserting Sophokles', "The Best of all things is not to have been born.
The next best, to die young.' And, strange as it may seem to you, that is
extremely relevant to what we discuss below.

----- Original Message -----
From: Edward Moore <>
To: <>
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Sent: Friday, May 18, 2001 1:04 PM
Subject: [LaMystique] Re: Bultmann, Heidegger, and Gnosticism

On Thu, 17 May 2001 04:49:18 -0500 "Gary C Moore"
<> writes:

Two points here. First, Rudolf Bultmann makes a clear point in The Theology
of the New Testament that Paul's declaration at Romans 1:20 is in utter
contradiction of the whole of his theology.

I reviewed the relevant sections of Bultmann's _Theology of the New
Testament_, and found this important passage:

"Yes, Paul does use familiar ideas of Stoic "natural theology" in Rom.
1:19ff. but not in order to prove the sheer existence of God and His
world-dominating providence so that he may thereby enlighten man and free
him from "ignorance of God" and from fear. Rather, he uses them in order to
accuse, specifically to expose, the guilt of the heathen ... To know God
means in itself to acknowledge God, to obey his demand (_dikaioma_,
1:32)" [Bultmann, vol. 1, p. 229].

In other words, Paul adapts this Stoic (and popular) conception of God's
'knowability,' not in order to speak like a Stoic or to lend philosophical
credence to his theology, but rather to show how distinct his message is
from anything that had come before.  Paul was making a demand upon his
hearers, and not simply trying to satisfy them with intellectual proofs of
God's existence.

The good thing about being contradicted and being shown you're wrong is that
one gets to understand with greater depth the problem at issue. I would
change when I said, "Bultmann makes clear" to "Bultmann makes clear TO ME",
and quote the entire passage you touched on above, which I had originally
missed, with the inescapable manner of creative editing, laden with the
necessary presuppositions of my existence, in the manner of re-trieve as
both Heidegger and Bultmann thought fundamentally, primordially necessary in
phenomenological hermeneutics.
"Yes, Paul DOES use familiar ideas of Stoic 'natural theology' in Rom.
1:19f., but not in order [just] to prove the sheer existence of God and His
world-dominating providence SO THAT he may thereby enlighten man and free
him from 'ignorance of God' and from fear. RATHER, he uses them in order to
ACCUSE, specifically to EXPOSE, the GUILT of the heathen: WITH EVIL WILL
they refused to pay heed to the POSSIBILITY of KNOWING God that was GIVEN to
them. To KNOW God means IN ITSELF to ACKNOWLEDGE God, obey His demand
(dikaioma, 1:32), bow before Him in grateful adoration (1:21; cf. I Cor.
10:31). // That God's existence is not an objectively perceptible, mere
existing like that of a thing, is indicated by I Cor. 8:4-6. If God were
being spoken of only as a cosmic Thing, the statement, "there is no God but
one," would not be right at all; for in this sense of 'is,' other 'gods' and
'lords' 'are.' (This would necessarily be one of the fundamental cruxes of
monistic thinking.Taken consistently, "God" then cannot be a 'thing' of
description in any sense whatsoever but would be the wholly encompassing
totality of experience as existence, "that God may be all things in all,"
ina hei o theos [ta] panta en pasin, 1 Cor. 15:28, which, on the one hand
would be foolishly impossible to deny, which would add to the reasons why
Heidegger says atheism can only be a methodology and not a 'belief', but on
the other hand what then is it exactly that Paul and Bultmann have SAID? For
it is a distinction denying all distinction, not like pantheism which would
be a relief but reaches into the ambiguity where the disintegration of my
personal self by disrobing itself of all the qualities it cannot hold onto
in the face of death comes up against this 'notion' of God as existence
itself and ceases to be rationally distinguishable from it. BUT, AS JUD
of God is His einai emin, His being 'for us.' (Ditto)That is, His being
(existence) is understood aright only when it is understood as
significant-for-man being (Ditto); hence, it is not understood aright unless
at the same time man's being is also understood as springing from God
(Ditto) ("from whom are all things") and thereby oriented toward Him ("and
toward whom we exist," I Cor. 8:6). (Again, Ditto) // Here, as also in Rom.
11:36, "for from him and through him and to him are all things," Paul is
using a formula of Stoic pantheism. (Note the lack of capitalization and the
utter ambiguity of who "him" is, although, it SEEMS it HAS TO BE God, yet,
ludicrously, it could just as well be me.) But in the Romans passage it is
especially clear how far Paul is from orienting his concept of God to the
cosmos in the Greek sense. For, as the closing sentence of chapters 9-11,
the formula has lost its original cosmological meaning and serves the
purpose of expressing Paul's theology of history: The history of nations is
salvation-history, and its origin,its guidance, and its goal are all in God
. . . When the world (cosmos) is so regarded, man is excepted from it, even
though as "mortal man" (Rom. 1:23) he belongs to it (In Heidegger,
authenticity is a MERE modification of inauthenticity, i.e., the two are
inextricable as one would expect in a monist system). But as a being endowed
by God with special dignity and responsibility (cf. I Cor. 11:3,7, "he is
the image and the glory of God") man stands between God and the creation and
must ("Must"? Must? Why exactly this "must"? Because God commands it? But we
are deciding here if God 'commands' at all, and how can something that
CANNOT be a 'thing' IN ANY SENSE! 'command'?) decide between the two . . .
All that is clear is that the "creation" has a history which it shares with
men - a fact which once again indicates how completely the cosmological
point of view recedes for Paul behind that of his history of theology . . .
Paul is able to appropriate the cosmological mythology of Gnosticism because
it enables him to express the fact that the perishable "creation" becomes a
destructive power whenever man decides in favor of it instead of for God
(Rom. 1:25)); i.e., when he bases his life upon it rather than upon God (But
why "must" he base his life AT ALL? In one sense one has "always already"
done this, but in another sense, the sense of fundamental ontology, one can
'decide' to stand back, disengage, detach, and just contemplate without
judgement or decision. Difficult, but somewhat possible.). Hence, IT OWES TO
this is so, must be clarified later by investigation of the term "flesh"
(sarx) (which is why I have momentarily disengaged from  "Heidegger and the
French Philosophers" to handle this 'little' problemhere). But this much is
already clear: Paul's conception of the creation, as well as of the Creator,
CREATION IS AMBIVALENT (You bet your whopee cushion it is!). (pp.229-231)
The central problem here has grown into a much larger problem of
"knowledge," its different kinds and how they are, or are not,
distinguished, and then how 'used' or 'abused.' The fundamental
presupposition of Bultmann is that there MUST BE A DECISION ACTUALLY MADE
between God and the word. In part, this must be what Bultmann means when he
says that to talk about faith one must be 'in' faith, but this "in" has
certainly become extremely ambiguous, specifically 'faith' in what? On the
one hand, yes, you can't deny 'it', yet on the other hand there is no 'it'
to affirm either. But we come here to another major crux. It is absolutely
true that Heidegger developed ALL of his philosophy directly out of
theology. It started with fanatical regional Catholicism that turned into
Scholastic philosophy that then discovered, through Protestant tradition,
Paul standing by himself (as revealed by Kierkegaard) that led directly to
Martin Luther's paradoxes of opposition between the Theologica gloria that
emphasizes the cosmological glory of a very EVIDENT all-powerful God
dominating all creation (precisely the 'Stoic' sense of Rom. 1:20) versus
the Theologica cruces of the insulted, utterly and eternally humiliated,
unresolved dead God of the cross which Luther says we MUST take up as the
only experiencially believable God as absolutely opposed to one who is
proved by logic and evidence, and then starting from the only bridge between
Luther and Aristotle, Luther's grudging admiration for the Nicomachian
Ethics, discovers the primordiality of the thinking of Aristotle AND Plato,
then Kant, then ultimately the most important of all, and always had been -
in the background - Friedrich Nietzsche. In other words, Heidegger literally
went through the whole of Christianity from down-home "rock of ages" faith
through Scotus' head and Paul and Kierkegaard in the middle then coming out
through Luther's rectum and the experience of the truly humiliated Christ of
man's real experience of God directly to the Aristotlean philosopher
comtemplating theon,theory, as theos, god, as himself "in a sense" divine
(Ditto) in the cosmological universe of the utterly individual,
sophisticatedly solipsistic experience of perception as one finds in
Heidegger's Being and Time and Sartre's Being and Nothingness and
Merleau-Ponty's Phenomenology of Perception.

That "being" and "God are so often deliberately confused in no way reflects
Heidegger's actual thinking, although I am now beginning to understand why
Heidegger COULD NOT be more explicit of an onto-theological interpretation
of his work. In a sense it is a ligitamit and necessary stage philosophy,
and each person, must go through, but must GET through. This is reflected in
Heidegger's discussion of several basic Greek philosophical terma toward the
end of THE PRINCIPLE OF REASON which are all also basic THEOLOGICAL terms.
But LOGOS, when thought in a Greek way, speaks in ratio. Only when we
contemplated what LOGOS meant for Heraclitus in early Greek thinking did it
become clear that this word simultaneously names being and ground/reason,
naming both in terms of their belonging together. Heraclitus uses different
names to name what he names LOGOS, names which are the basic words of his
thinking: PHUSIS,the emerging-on-its-own, which at the same time essentially
comes tobe as a self-concealing; KOSMOS, which for the Greeks simultaneously
meant order, disposition, and finery which, as flash and luster, brings
about a shinning; finally,that which hails him as LOGOS, as the sameness of
being and ground/reason, Heraclitus names AION. The word is difficult to
translate.One says: "world-time". It is the world that worlds and
temporalizes in that, as KOSMOS, it brings the jointure of being to a
glowing sparkle.According to all that is said in the names LOGOS, PHUSIS,
KOSMOS, and AION we may hear that Unsaid we name "the Geschick of being. //
What does Heraclitus say about AION? Fragment 52 runs: aion pais esti
paizon, pesseuon paidos e basileie. The Geschick of being,a child that
plays, shifting the pawns: the royalty of a child - that means, the ARXE,
that which governs by instituting grounds, the being of beings. The Geschick
of being: a child that plays. (pg. 113, German 188)
Superficially it seems near to onto-theology. Bultman is indeed much nearer,
but whatexactly that means I have not fully concluded yet. For he is a
Christian that both fully and literally believes in the immortality of the
Spirit and ALSO the final mortality of the flesh, ESCAPING NEITHER

The reason I became interested in Paul's theology via Bultmann was
essentially through his wrestling with the meaning of 'body,' "soma,"
because he was trying to get away from generalization and abstraction and
deal with the reality of experience in actual existing. In other words, he
was trying to do something few intellectuals try to do: Tell the truth of
what he knew. Paul then is according the obviousness of common sense, his
experience, as the primordial and fundamental ground for abstraction and
words. He is delineating like a blind man feeling an 'elephant' something he
is experiencing instead of merely repeating essentially meaningless,
inherited abstractions. This is the point I have been trying to make by
clarifying Sartre's "sophisticated solipsism", i.e., there is absolutely no
question each individual as a numerical 'one', comparable to each and every
other numerical one, receives ALL language, tradition, and intentional or
accidental 'training' from 'Others.' But these 'Others' remain 'Other'
precisely because, though they do give you something truly objective that
you in no way 'created' ex nihilo yourself, they do not and cannot truly
open up their motivations and intentions to any meaningful degree. (this is
some degree reflected in Bultmann when, in describing "the heart', kardia:
"The term "heart"can express the idea that the self's intent and will may be
a hidden thing: "heart" is the "interior" in contrast to the "exterior," the
real self in contrast to what a man appears to be . . . that will need not
penetrate into the field of consciousness at all" (pp.222-223). And yet it
is the heart of self and the hearts of 'Others' that by far and above the
most important and necessary aspect of reality itself. But Bultman  and Paul
conclude: ""The "purposes of hearts" (1 Cor. 4:5) are hidden until God
brings themto light; the "secrets of the heart" are disclosed by the
prophet-inspiring Spirit" (p. 222), which considering the ambiguity of what
God is and how Bultmann will define "Spirit" ("Spirit may be called the
power of futurity") quoted below, is disturbing but certainly justifies
Sartre's "sophisticated solipsism". Bultman also says, "The difference
between nous (mind) and kardia (heart) lies in the fact that the element of
knowing which is contained in "mind" and can be prominately present is not
emphasized in "heart," in which the dominant element is striving and will
and also the state of being moved by feelings (pain and love)" which becomes
very disturbing when one considers the condemnation of the "heathen" on the
page beforewhen Bultman quotes Paul, "The statement that "the demands of the
Law are written in the heart of the heathen" (Rom. 2:15) simply means that
in their "conscience" they know these demands. Thinking of faith from within
the point of view of faith seems to depleat the qualities of fairness and
understanding.) It does not take a child long to realize that the
motivations and intents behind an adult's 'gifts' are at the very least
unintentionally contradictory and are quite often downright hypocritical in
the conflict between directly stated purpose, the whole context of the
situation that the child many times perceives more clearly even than the
adult, and the related words, but very important, and actions of the adult
that do not directly follow from that declared purpose. The fundamental
wholeness of this frame of thinking is literally what Heidegger means by the
everyday inauthentic thinking of the 'They' self. It is what we do all the
time and MUST always do as we are ALWAYS within the 'everyday' world. It is
NOT AT ALL that we knew the "Truth" and fell away from it, but that this is
the "Truth" as we learn it from 'Others.' It is inherent in language itself.
That the child can see there is something wrong through the perceived
contradictions does NOT AT ALL tell it what is 'Right.' So the first and
only thing the child can learned is to accommodate itself to the
contradictions of the adult as best it can since this Situation is in fact
the WHOLE of its reality. In other words, it knows 'everyday' "Reality" is
totally within "Untruth", but "Truth" is merely perceived as a problem of
logic whose solution is to override the conflict by practical accommodation.
It is NOT AT ALL the opposition of opposites such as "Truth" and "Untruth"
because, literally, practically, in everyday existence, Untruth IS the

But if one is, like Paul, going back to the phenomenological delineation of
experience BEFORE pre-presented abstract "Truth", and are trying to find out
what existence really is, then one comes precisely into the conflict between
dualistic and monistic thinking. Paul is accepting the phenomenal logic that
there is only one reality, and that the thinking of two 'realities' is a
logical and experiential absurdity. But you should be able to see now why I
would say dualistic thinking is "easier" than monistic thinking: Any real
aporia that arises in dualistic thinking can be easily resolved by saying
"What is not true 'here' IS true 'there' " thereby giving one the
opportunity of having one's cake and eating it too. Whereas, as with Paul,
one sees the actual reality without evasion that one is one's body and one's
body is you, one has to completely rethink "spirituality" and "immortality"
WITHIN the same contextual reality with materiality and death WITHOUT BEING
ABLE TO NEGATE THEM! This causes him great difficulty and sometimes
contradictions, but his heroic attempt to bring together the very different
kinds of temporal realities in Jewish materialism which is dependent on the
material tradition of inherited past versus the futural Hellenistic Gnostic
spiritual anticipation of future glory into the actuality of how a person
really lives caught in the present by and between, and held in that present
by, a inescapably clinging material past that is yet entirely motivated and
directed toward a merely possible future leaving the present essentially a
"nothingness." The present HAS NO MEANING. "Meaning" is either derived from
the past wherein one is then bound to the mortal, material world, or it
comes from the future which of course has not and cannot happen in the
present wherein it would immediately become the past - but always remains
only POSSIBILITY. This is something Heidegger makes perfectly clear time and
time again and Bultmann does not at all miss his point,though it would be
easy for a reader to miss the point in Bultmann if he did not know

Now, dualistic thinking would give you the opportunity of choosing between
tradition and fulfilling the Law or future glory and being freed from the
Law. However, Paul is caught by honesty in the nothingness of the present
where he sees the false commitment to the past destroys the promise of the
future which is primarily and primordially what 'man' by nature is "oriented
toward." That these things are true says much about man but absolutely
nothing about God. He sees the meaningfulness of future spirituality is
necessarily derived from the past which is resolved in Christ crucified and
resurrected which is both our past and future. Bultmann portrays this, and
its difficulties,in another passage.
"Nevertheless, Paul's term "spiritual body" (I Cor. 15:44, 46)strongly
suggests that Paul conceived of the Spirit as a material, just as the term
"glory" (//14, 1; pg. 156), closely related to that of Spirit,  undoubtedly
denotes a (heavenly) substance in I Cor. 15:40f . . . For the "greater
splendor" of the "new covenant" is not visible at all, but is a power that
demonstrates itself IN ITS EFFECT - and that is that it PRODUCES freedom . .
. It is clear that this present glory is not shinning material. It is
nothing other than the power by means of which the "inward self" (//18, 1)
is renewed day by day (4:16) . . . We may accordingly say that the
sporadically occurring notion of the Spirit as a material is not one that is
really determinative for Paul's concept of the Spirit . . . Then the true
meaning of Paul's spirit concept must be reached by some other way. // The
Spirit is the opposite of "flesh" (Gal. 5:16; 6:8; Rom. 8:4ff., etc.). As
"flesh" is the quintessence of the worldly, visible, controlable, and
transitory sphere which becomes the controlling power over the man who lives
"according to the flesh" (//22), so "Spirit" is the quintessence of the
non-worldly, invisible, uncontrollable, eternal sphere (pg. 234) which
becomes the controlling power for and in him who orients his life "according
to the Spirit." And as the power of "flesh" is manifested in the fact that
it binds man to the transitory, TO THAT WHICH IS ALWAYS ALREADY PAST, BINDS
HIM TO DEATH, so the power of the Spirit is manifested in the fact that it
gives the believer freedom, OPENS UP THE FUTURE, THE ETERNAL LIFE. For
freedom is nothing else than being open for the GENUINE FUTURE, letting
POWER OF FUTURITY . . . There is a peculiar double meaning about the term
"Spirit," because it can denote both the miraculous power that is bestowed
upon the man of faith and is the source of his new life, and also the norm
of his earthly walk. This is the same paradox as in that utterance of Gal.
5:25: "If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit" - in which
the first "spirit" means the power, the second the norm, for it stands in
place of a kata pneuma ("according to the Spirit" as in 5:16). The primary
idea is the miraculous power of God; then, since it has the effect of
emancipating from the power of sin and death (Rom. 8:2) - i.e., it grants
freedom of action and opens up the possibility of "reaping eternal life"
(Gal. 6:8) - it is also the norm for "walking."

> This would
> also be in agreement with Heidegger on the grounds that such
> "objective" proofs of the existence of God make Him into an object
> and therefore, very important in Bultmann's argumentation, ontic and
> therefore quite literally God becomes merely merely one of the
> beings in and of the world.

Bultmann appears to be saying quite the opposite.  In a 1930 essay
entitled simply "Paul," Bultmann writes:

"When Paul makes use of the Stoic theory of a natural knowledge of God
(Rom. 1:20 ff.), it does not serve him in order to conclude to God's
being _in_ the world and to the divinity of the world and the security of
man by reason of divine providence, but rather to conclude to God's being
_beyond_ the world, to the world's creatureliness and to God's claim to
be honored by man" [in _Existence and Faith_ 1960, pp. 128-129].

Therefore, far from declaring that Romans 1:20 is in contradiction to the
rest of Paul's theology, Bultmann goes on to explain how an existential
'knowledge' of God (which is knowledge by way of experience and history,
and not through conceptuality) is based upon "our being known _by_ God"
[ibid. p. 120].  This knowingness of God toward human existence is the
source of the demand placed upon us to come to 'know' God as an
historical being.  But this being-ness of God is never simply or merely
confined to history; rather, it is the very history of humankind in its
self-knowledge -- a self-knowledge always seeking to get beyond history,
and for that very reason always creating the world and its history, in
which humankind remains determined by way of particular existents [p.
129].  To reduce this to a formula, we may say that the _Sein_ of God is
represented historically in the _Da-Sein_ of humanity.  In this sense,
God is both within the world and eternally beyond it -- a most Pauline
sentiment, I daresay.

(concerning the problem of Bultmann's demythologization)
> If anyone has any specific information with pages
> references on this, it would be welcome. But Bultmann first makes it
> very plain that Paul stands and falls one the understanding of a
> single proposition: That Jesus rose from the dead and eternally
> lives and in doing so brought ressurection and immortality at least
> to all believers. Then Bultmann seems to say both ressurection and
> immortality are myths. Why, then, bother so much with Paul and
> John?

This is touching upon very subtle theological ground; and the problem
arises because Bultmann attempted to play both philosopher and theologian
at once.  Perhaps we can go into this another time.  For now, I will
simply say that it is important to note that "myth" for Bultmann does not
mean a simple, primitive conception or account of the world and its
phenomena.  Like Paul Ricoeur (especially!) Bultmann recognized that
myths are the primary symbols upon which a philosophy is later built, or
always depends, in some way.  "Demythologization," then, means for
Bultmann the act of displaying, philosophically, the inner power and
'truth' of the myths -- without in any way discounting or abandoning them
as mere children's tales.

That said, I heartily recommend Bultmann's essay on "The Historicity of
Man and Faith" (in _Existence and Faith_ 1960).  It contains an excellent
rebuttal to Heidegger that I'm sure you will find most interesting.

> However, since this desire, on the part of human beings,
> only produces various philosophies, none of which can hold claim to
> the absolute truth, Marcion concludes that the noetic beings
> (humans) of this realm are capable of nothing more than a shadow of
> wisdom.
> Again, as a supposed contradiction in Bultmann, he makes it clear
> that this is not only fundamental to Paul per se but is necessarily
> true upon its own account!

Indeed, but unlike Marcion, Paul did not split God in half, so to speak.
Marcion posited a God who is perfectly Good, and one who is simply Just.
For Paul, these two attributes come together in the Father of Jesus
Christ.  Granted, this position forced Paul to develop a more complex
theology than that of Marcion, with all the difficulties implied; but
since Paul was more than capable of meeting the challenge of remaining
faithful to Scripture, we must agree with Hans Jonas here and declare
Marcion the lesser of the two minds.

"To Marcion, a lesser mind and therefore more addicted to the neatness of
formal consistency, justice and goodness are contradictory and therefore
cannot reside in the same god: the concept of each god, certainly that of
the true God, must be unequivocal - the fallacy of all theological
dualism" [Jonas, _The Gnostic Religion_ 1958, 2001, pp. 141-142].

>  In other words, his existence is always an intention
> and a quest, and in it he may find himself or lose his grip upon
> himself, gain his self or fail to do so.
> Here Bultmann's Heidegger is clearly showing and he does an
> excellent job of simplification, but -
>   These phenomena indicate that Paul is of this opinion: Man has
> always already missed the existence that at heart he seeks, his
> intent is basically perverse, evil. (vol. 1,page 227)
> Does Bultmann later demythologize this?

I will cautiously say here that I do not believe Bultmann had any reason
to demythologize this notion.  Recall that Bultmann was a "man of faith,"
and so he would have drawn the distinction between the existence of the
"natural" man, and the man of faith, as being precisely the difference
between one whose "intent is basically perverse, evil" (although he
probably would not have used such strong language toward his
contemporaries -- just one of the perks of dealing with ancient ideas:
one can make innuendos), and one who is characterized by the quest for
God.  It is only the latter human being, according to Bultmann, who is
existing authentically: for the "self-hood [of the man of faith] is not,
like God, self-creative but is a thing entrusted to him -- hence, that he
factually lives only by constantly moving on, as it were, from himself,
by projecting himself into a possibility that lies before him" [_Theology
of the New Testament_ vol 1, p. 210].  This is in stark contrast to the
"worldly" man whose life has become stagnant through his insidious
self-identification with the things of this world [cf. _Existence and
Faith_, p. 130].

Best Regards, to All and Sundry,


Edward Moore
Area Editor: Late Hellenistic Philosophy        Email.

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