LETTER ON "HUMANISM"


(p. 28, note 1): "Through the ontological interpretation of Dasein as being-in-the-world no decision, whether positive or negative, is made concerning a possible being toward God. It is, however, the case that through an illumination of transcendence we first achieve an adequate concept of Dasein, with respect to which it can now be asked how the relationship of Dasein to God is ontologically ordered." If we think about this remark too quickly, as is usually the case, we will declare that such a philosophy does not decide either for or against the existence of God. It remains stalled in indifference. Thus it is unconcerned with the religious question. Such indifferentism ultimately falls prey to nihilism.

But does the foregoing observation teach indifferentism? Why then are particular words in the note italicized - and not just random ones? For no other reason than to indicate that the thinking that thinks from the question concerning the truth of being questions more primordially than metaphysics can. Only from the truth of being can the essence of the holy be thought. [182 {GA 9 351] Only from the essence of the holy is the essence of divinity to be thought. Only in the light of the essence of divinity can it be thought or said what the word "God" is to signify. Or should we not first be able to hear and understand all these words carefully if we are to be permitted as human beings, that is, as eksistent creatures, to experience a relation of God to human beings? How can the human being at the present stage of world history ask at all seriously and rigorously whether the god nears or withdraws, when he has above all neglected to think into the dimension in which alone that question can be asked? But this is the dimension of the holy, which indeed remains closed as a dimension if the open region of being is not cleared and in its clearing" is near to humans. Perhaps what is distinctive about this world-epoch consists in the closure of the dimension of the hale [des Heilen]. Perhaps that is the sole malignancy [Unheil].

But with this reference the thinking that points toward the truth of being as what is to be thought has in no way decided in favor of theism. It can be theistic as little as atheistic. Not, however, because of an indifferent attitude, but out of respect for the boundaries that have been set for thinking as such, indeed set by what gives itself to thinking as what is to be thought, by the truth of being. Insofar as thinking limits itself to its task it directs the human being at the present moment of the world's destiny into the primordial dimension of his historical abode. When thinking of this kind speaks the truth of being it has entrusted itself to what is more essential than


a First edition, 1949: Clearing as clearing of self-concealing sheltering.


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Martin Heidegger (GA 9) Pathmarks