Heidegger and Voegelin on Augustine

Meeting Index

Eric Voegelin Society Meeting 2005

Heidegger and Voegelin on Augustine

Copyright 2005 Fred Lawrence


Eric Voegelin diagnosed the "murderous grotesque" of Nazism as an outgrowth of modern deculturation generally; Martin Heidegger became entangled with National Socialism. Voegelin's philosophy is a resistance to social disorder that explains the importance of differentiations in consciousness and its equivalent expressions, ranging from more to less compact. Heidegger responded to the baleful effects of technology as the underlying ontology of the modern age by an apparent de-differentiation of philosophy, so that its purpose is to enact an ongoing attunement to the fateful dispensations of being, and it is questionable how much it can support or guide serious resistance to our personal, social, cultural disorder, or how much it nourishes complicity with the very "murderous grotesque" it is meant to overcome.

Still, to suggest the profundity of Voegelin's work, David Walsh's Introduction to the Collected Works edition of Anamnesis compared Voegelin to Heidegger. This enabled Walsh to point out Voegelin's strengths in relation to Heidegger's handling of similar concerns in poetic and apolitical discourse, and to underline the relative lack in Heidegger's work of the massive empirical study of materials from the manifold cultures of world history that was so integral to Voegelin's philosophical anthropology.

Here I want to examine Voegelin's and Heidegger's respective retrievals of Augustine's Confessions. [1] I believe that Leo Strauss was right when he told his friend Franz Rosenzweig "that, in comparison with Heidegger, Weber appeared to me as an orphan child' in regard to precision and probing and competence." [2] Hans-Georg Gadamer shared this estimation of Heidegger. Although Strauss considered Heidegger to be the greatest exponent of Nietzsche in our time, to the extent that this is true, it is only part of the story. Since the publication of Heidegger's early Freiburg and Marburg lectures, Theodore Kisiel and John van Buren followed earlier leads of scholars like Karl Lehmann, Otto Pggeler, Thomas Sheehan, et al., to spell out Heidegger's dependence on Christianity. Gadamer and Karl Lwith, Strauss's student colleagues in those early years, both stressed what Fergus Kerr phrased as follows: "Heidegger's attitude to Christian theology, hostile at one level, overtly and explicitly so, attributing the monstrous invention of the transcendental subject to Christian theology, is also proprietorial, indeed exploitative of and even parasitical upon Christian theology." [3] This turns out to be at least as, if not more, crucial than the influence of Nietzsche upon him.

Indeed, long before the stream of research on the early Heidegger became a torrent, Gadamer illuminated Heidegger's close relationship to Christian theology in an essay for the Bultmann Festschrift (for which Voegelin wrote "Ewiges Sein in der Zeit") entitled "Heidegger und die Marburger Theologie." And in "Aus einem Gesprch von der Sprache," Heidegger wrote: "Without this theological heritage I would have never gotten on the path of thinking. But provenance always remains future." [4]

Voegelin, in his brief against post-Reformation and post-Enlightenment dogmatomachy, criticized the mistake Protestant reformers, rationalist Enlightenment thinkers and Neoscholastics had made of rigidly separating faith from reason, and revelation and theology from philosophy. Because he had no difficulty in conceiving philosophy as fides quaerens intellectum, Voegelin readily acknowledged that Plato and Aristotle were "mystic philosophers." Once he clearly differentiated the noetic from the pneumatic expressions of the conscious experience of the leap in being in Anamnesis and O & E IV, Voegelin used Aristotle to articulate the classic experience of reason.' In general Voegelin applied his appropriation of the classic experience of reason to transpose Augustine's anamnetic experiment in The Confessions and the political theory of history in The City of God into contemporary terms. He incorporated the notions of meditatio and of person in The Confessions into his work; but he radically transformed The City of God's notion of history to take seriously the valid insights of Vico, Machiavelli, and Voltaire regarding the fuller reality of history, sacred and profane. [5] In the measure that he was Augustinian, Voegelin's lifework taught anyone serious about the study of human being in society before God anamnetically to reconstitute within themselves the world-historical, individual and social experiences and symbolizations of our relationship to the divine ground.

Voegelin, though committed to the substance of Christian faith, was similar to the pre-Sein und Zeit Heidegger in his adamantly anti-dogmatic stance. Perhaps Voegelin was too catholic, in the sense of Thomas Aquinas's teaching about the Whole Christ in Summa theologiae III, art. 8, to belong to the Roman Catholic Church. As far as I know, he also was never concerned about not having an institutional link to Christianity, and he was quite cognizant of the ways church leaders and members have fallen prey to pneumopathologies throughout history.

Early Heidegger

Heidegger's pivotal encounter with Augustine, took place during the years--1919-1927--after his break from "the system of Catholicism." Heidegger's biographers Hugo Ott and Rdiger Safranski [6] support Nicholas Boyle's statement that "in the aftermath of Bismarck 's Kulturkampf against the Church the air of the second-rate, rightly or wrongly, still hung about Catholic institutions, and ambition in the end meant more to the young Heidegger than faith. By going over to a nominal Lutheranism, he secured a position at the heart of the intellectual establishment of the Weimar Republic ." [7] But this is only partially true. His reading of Nietzsche, Kierkegaard, Dostoevsky, Dilthey, Franz Overbeck gave Heidegger experientially based and intellectually motivated questions about the Church and its teachings. In 1919 he made the oft-quoted statement in a letter to Engelbert Krebs that "epistemological insights, groping toward a theory of historical knowing, (have) made the system of Catholicism problematic and untenable--but not Christianity and metaphysics, yet these at least in a new sense." It implies that what became problematic for him was not Christianity as such, but the Roman Catholic version of it he experienced himself. [8]

In Unterwegs zur Sprache Heidegger later spoke of being "driven onto the path of thought especially by the question about the relationship between the Word of Holy Scripture and theological-speculative thought." [9] Gadamer recounts that Heidegger questioned "whether there is not a more adequate self-understanding than what is offered by contemporary theology." Gadamer continues: "That the theology which he had learned and which was largely based on Aristotelian metaphysics, did not at all match up with the real motives of Greek thinking, and had to have only made more acute for him the coming-to-grips (die Auseinandersetzung) with that thinking." [10] Heidegger's complaint against scholastic theology was twofold: first, much of what purported to be speech about God was not really about God at all, but just a scandal for the intellectually honest and meaningless to those for whom God is dead; second, the abuses Aristotle's philosophy suffered as the handmaiden of scholastic theology repelled him. So he devoted himself to philosophy in the form of dismantling pseudo-philosophy. Estranged from the Catholic Church, Heidegger searched for a way to remain a Christian, even if not an officially Catholic one; and he explored the non-dogmatic evangelical Christianity that Husserl told him he had found.

On Methodological Atheism

In the early period of his estrangement from the Catholic world in which he had been raised, Heidegger resorted to "methodological atheism." Recall the claim of Marie-Dominque Chenu, OP, (a leader in the 20th century scholarly recovery of Thomas Aquinas beyond the scholastic pale) that St Thomas exercised a methodological atheism.' The similarity and difference between the two cases is illustrative. Aquinas addressed the challenge to Christian theology posed by the gradual re-entry of Aristotle's philosophy into the Christian and Latin west. He conceived theology as a subordinated science that employs explanatory analogies drawn from nature. His methodological atheism meant that he no longer simply considered nature as it had been regarded since the Patristic epoch, as multitudinous created symbols of the divine transcendent creator. In order to formulate a theoretical basis for analogous predications regarding the transcendent and supernatural order of divine grace, St Thomas understood that the autonomous intelligibility of nature had to be taken seriously. Like his teacher Albert, Thomas Aquinas did this by entering into tutelage to Aristotle's great Jewish and Arabic followers and by writing his own multiple commentaries on Aristotle's works.

Unlike Aquinas, Heidegger's early experience of ecclesial faith happened within a peculiar form of what Joseph Komonchak has called the post-1815 "social construction of Roman Catholicism." This modern embodiment of the church lost all resonance for him and he no longer experienced its truth as self-authenticating. If we overestimate the degree of his alienation from the Catholicism, however, we cannot account for the fact that he maintained a life-long closeness to the Benedictine community at Beuron that played a leading role in Germany 's liturgical movement. Heidegger visited the monastery at regular intervals to experience the mystery of the liturgy, often taking students along with him, and sometimes teaching the monks. [11] What seems to have been the chief stumbling-block for him was the complete detachment of the church-sponsored scholastic theology of the day, in its anti-modernist strategy of ahistorical orthodoxy, both from religious experience and from genuine philosophy.

Disturbed by what he regarded as the inauthentic Christianization' of Greek thought in decadent scholasticism, he realized at the same time that scholastic theology's deficient objectifications also betrayed the ancient Christian achievement that he was learning to appreciate. Gadamer's description of a 1927 Marburg lecture by Heidegger on philosophy and theology captures Heidegger's attitude toward theology: "After evoking the Christian skepticism of Franz Overbeck, he said it was the true task of theology, to which it must again find its way back, to seek the word which is capable of calling to faith and keeping in faith." [12] For Heidegger the question was how to appropriate a faith that had become meaningless. He chose to address this problem by leaving a system in which philosophy was domesticated in service of dogmatic theology. Heidegger was convinced that "[the self-understanding of philosophy] can only be attained by the act of philosophizing itself, not by scientific proofs and definitions, i.e., not by integration into a universal, objectively formed material framework." [13] As was fitting for one no longer a believer, he held that "philosophical research is and remains atheism," [14] for, he claimed, "only then is [philosophy] honest before God." [15]

In summary, Thomas Aquinas used methodological atheism in the 13th century to bring theology into the world of explanatory theory; Heidegger used it to face the challenge of intellektuelle Redlichkeit (intellectual probity) Nietzsche posed to 20th century theology. Both for Thomas Aquinas and for Heidegger methodological atheism is motivated by a passionate search for both authentic God-talk and authentic philosophy--and of the latter for the sake of the former.

Heidegger & Augustine's Confessions

Heidegger's lecture course on Book X of The Confessions was undertaken in a spirit of inquiry driven by intellectual probity. The primal Christian experience of grace helped Heidegger to break through to what he called "facticity" as "the manner of being of our Dasein." [16] Lectures gathered under the theme, "Introduction to the Phenomenology of Religion" (devoted to Paul's Letters to the Galatians and the Thessalonians, and to Augustine), show that Heidegger was struck by the experience of operative and cooperative grace. In operative grace the human will is moved and not moving, while God alone moves us by moving our wills; in cooperative grace, the human will is both moved by God and moves itself. This is the heart of primal Christian experience.' Heidegger admitted that "it is almost hopeless to enter into such an operative context. The Christian possesses the awareness that this facticity cannot be gained out of his/her own power, but derives from God--the phenomenon of operative grace" [17] He could not speak about what he believed he had no direct experience of, so he refrained from either dogmatic or theological interpretation; and he was also critical of the merely historical treatments or pious meditations prevalent at the time. He determined to "point the way towards a phenomenological understanding" of the experience of grace, [18] by using the phenomenological technique of "formal indication" to disclose not the content of the experience of grace but the "primordial how'" by which the phenomenon is experienced, leaving "its performative or operative character free." [19]

This novel technique of formal indication is not to be associated with the distantiating attitude that yields the abstractions or definitions preferred by Husserl. For Heidegger "the point of departure of the path to philosophy is the factical life experience." [20] In the lectures on the phenomenology of religion, therefore, Heidegger stood on the threshold of what came to be known as "the hermeneutics of facticity," by which philosophy engages the human historical quest for meaning in life in all its concreteness and amplitude. In speaking about phenomenology in the course on Aristotle immediately following the Augustine course, he says, "There are no definitions in the usual sense and in philosophy in general there are no definitions of this kind." [21] Heidegger explains his revolutionary technique in phenomenology as follows:

Each experience--as experiencing, and what is experienced--can "be taken in the phenomenon," that is to say, one can ask:

1.        After the original "what," that is experienced therein (content).

2.        After the original "how," in which it is experienced (relation).

3.        After the original "how," in which the relational meaning is enacted (enactment).

But these three directions of meaning (Sinn) (content-, relational-, enactment-meaning) do not simply coexist. "Phenomenon" is the totality of meaning (Sinn) in these three directions. "Phenomenology" is explication of this totality of meaning; it gives the "logoV" of the phenomena, "logoV" in the sense of verbum internum (not in the sense of logicalization).

Let me give a possibly relevant interpretation of this passage.

First, Heidegger is applying Aristotle's premodern notions of (1) knowledge by identity (i.e. in which the act of experiencing and what is experienced are intentionally united), and of (2) insight (noein) into phantasm (i.e. understanding one's experience as sensed or imaginatively represented, which Heidegger calls phenomenon'). The insight grasps the intelligibility in the phantasm, where intelligibility' means a relationship that causes the experienced phenomenon to be this and not that type of thing. Once one has the insight, the act of understanding can pivot upon its own attainment to formulate the intelligibility apprehended in a more or, or in most cases less, abstract manner. When Heidegger said that "philosophical concepts are vacillating, vague, manifold, and fluctuating," [22] he was heeding Aristotle's admonition not to seek any greater exactitude (akribeia) than is afforded by the subject matter under investigation. As a science of lived experience, therefore, phenomenology does not proceed to further degrees of abstraction (whether mathematical or metaphysical), but rather explicates the concreteness of meaning as experienced in all its lack of clarity and perhaps even ambiguity, in contradistinction to logically clear and distinct ideas.

Second, our explicit awareness is normally directed to contents alone, while either neglecting or prescinding from the dimension of Vollzug: act, enactment, performance, operation. However, the gravamen of formal indication is to prescind from the content of an experience and to concentrate upon its enactment.

Third, in contrast to Husserl, Heidgger's phenomenology investigates facticity. Its quest for understanding is hermeneutical. The intelligibility immanent in the Vollzug of human living's "how"-character is originally apprehended and enacted dramatically; the operation, performance, or enactment constitutes the coming-to-be of the drama of human existence itself.

At the beginning of the Introduction to the Philosophy of Religion' Heidegger explicitates this complex structure of human existence in his handling of Paul on the parousia: the knowledge relevant to Paul's meaning, he tells us, is a "knowledge [that] must be one's own, for Paul refers the Thessalonians back to themselves and to the knowledge that they have as having-come-to-be." [23] Facticity is precisely this ongoing human perfomance of anticipating the future in light of the past, which is interpretation (as described by Rowan Williams): "interweaving a text (words and actions, words and actions) with our human project, acquiring a partner, a pole of difference that refuses to allow our project' to return endlessly upon itself, as if it were indeed generated from a well of interiority, self-consciousness.'" [24]

The Christian experience of redemption occurs within a drama by which (paraphrasing Austin Farrer) we are talked into talk by those who talk at us, so that by the time we are aware of our independence, we are what others have made us. "How many persons, how many conditions," Farrer exclaims, "have made us what we are; and in making us so, may have undone us." [25]

So in his Aristotle course the next semester Heidegger states: "The genuine foundation of philosophy is the radical existential grasp and the precipitation in time of questionability; to call oneself and one's life and one's decisive performances into question is the basic concept of every, and even of the most radical illumination." [26] Heidegger partially learned this notion of philosophy from Christianity. He claimed that the "most profound historical paradigm for this noteworthy process of shifting the center of gravity back to factical life and the lifeworld back into the self-world and the world of inward experience is given in the emergence of Christianity." [27]

I want to examine how the specific conceptuality for Heidegger's phenomenology (from the Aristotle course until SZ [1927]) became fully thematic in his handling of Augustine's Confessions, Book X, where the bishop of Hippo reflects critically upon the anamnetic experiment carried out in Books I-IX. Heidegger insisted: "Christian religiousness lives temporally;" and the first nine books, written and published by Augustine nine years before Book X, exhibited the primal Christian experience as an epitomy of human factical life. Despite certain Neoplatonist defects, Augustine's articulation of the experience of redemption through grace in Christian terms set forth fundamental structures of the hermeneutics of facticity that appear again in secular garb in SZ.

Augustine's hermeneutic analysis of the I am' in Confessions X makes clear that the act of existence proper to the human being as a unity, identity, and whole is neither primordially accessible nor imaginable nor correctly conceivable in the mode of an object of perception. [28] "Die Selbstgewissheit und das Sich-selbst-haben im Sinne Augustins ist etwas ganz anderes als die cartesische Evidenz des <cogito>." [29] Heidegger understood that for Augustine the human ego's esse (act of existing) is enacted by a preconceptual, pre-reflective nosse, which is the performative self-awareness concomitant with human agency, and amare, which is the primary orientation or connaturality of the will's desire for the good. [30] Heidegger applied the scholastic tags actus exercitus/actus signatus to retrieve the innate, performative reflexivity proper to human presence-to-self-in-the-world that endows human beings with conscientia. [31] For Heidegger the same reality Augustine referred to by the term nosse was what he intended by the term Dasein. This also corresponds with Voegelin's teaching on the luminosity of consciousness. So Heidegger and Voegelin use the word consciousness in a non-Cartesian, non-Kantian way. And Augustine distinguished animus from anima to denote the conscious subject: human presence-to-self-in-the-world.

Next, Heidegger realized that the self is constituted as Augustine's inquietum cor. Hence, the Grund-situation and -erfahrung of philosophy is the restlessness (Beunruhigung) of human presence-to-self-in-the-world. The persistent concern (Bekmmerung) of factual lived experience is philosophy's point of departure and return. In SZ it is called care or concern (Sorge). Initially and for the most part, being concerned is conscious and operative (in actu exercito) and not objectively known. [32] It is Vollzugssinn, the originative meaning immanent in what I do, perform, suffer--what I encounter in my depression and elation, but not as an object of perception. [33]

What are we concerned about? For Augustine, the answer is God, which is to say, the beata vita (the happy or blessed life). If we are concerned about or seek God or beatitudo (happiness), then we must somehow know about what we seek. Here again Heidegger makes a Voegelin-like point, namely, that Augustine acknowledges that we do not know about the beata vita in the reified mode of an object of perception, but rather in the mode of "a unique Bezugssinn (relational intention), in such a way indeed, as to be decisive for Vollzug (enactment, performance, operation)." [34] "Nimirum habemus eam nescio quomodo" [Conf. X, 20, 29]. [35] And yet often Augustine falls back into the reifying way of speaking about "having beatitudo," which Heidegger says is the "Greek" or "Catholic" betrayal, turning the fundamental performative meaning into a content, which (in both Anamnesis and The Ecumenic Age) Voegelin characterizes in terms of doctrinalization.' But Augustine also gets it' perfectly: "vitam [] beatam habemus in notitia, ideoque amamus eam, et tamen adipisci eam volumus ut beati simus" [X, 21, 30]. [36]

For Augustine, what constitutes the beata vita is joy in the truth--experienced vividly in our desire not to be deceived, and in our spontaneous desire not to make a mistake or fall into error. We could not have these experiences "nisi esset aliqua notitia ejus in memoria eorum" [X, 25, 33]. [37] So where do we have this performative notion of God/beata vita? In memoria, which we see for Augustine is not just a concept drawn from a conventional faculty psychology, because although it is the capacity to remember, it also connotes consciousness tout court as generating the constitutive meaning by which we play a role in saving or damning ourselves.

In this vein, and as a function of his determination to transform Husserl's phenomenology into a hermeneutics of facticity, Heidegger understood Augustine's contrast of the two modes of human concern for life--a detached, noble appreciation of beauty and goodness (frui), or utilitarian exploitation (uti)--to parallel precisely the central problem of either gaining access to performative meaning or missing it through the misguided attempt to objectify it--what Voegelin in The New Science of Politics calls the Gnostic tendency towards "massive possessiveness."

These basic points of orientation clarified, Heidegger takes further Augustinian motifs from the tenth book of the Confessions into his hermeneutic analysis of the factical life of Dasein: becoming a question to oneself (quaestio mihi factus sum  [chapter 33]); becoming a burden to oneself (oneri mihi sum [chapter 28]); on account of temptation, there is the overwhelming presence of conditions leading to one's being defluxus in multum or distracted by the multiplicity of various possibilities and meanings. Finally, Heidegger took up Augustine's theme of chaste fear (timor castus), which would lead eventually to the role in his thought played by the theme of the this-worldly experience of death.

In the next semester Heidegger's interpretation of Aristotle marks a basic shift in his thinking. In re-appropriating Aristotle and freeing the Stagirite's thought from its bondage as the ancilla theologiae, he began to treat his resumption of the Christian and Augustinian focus of unrest about one's own life completely outside the orbit of revelation, grace, and the forgivenness of sins, [38] as was the case in SZ. Henceforth the theme of this-worldly experience of death replaces Augustine's concern for beatitudo as the central problematic. In Heidegger's turn to Aristotle, [39] facticity is a completely profane affair.

In his treatment of the hermeneutical situation for reading Aristotle, the former language of restlessness and concern (Beunruhigung, Bekmmerung) began to give way to that of care (Sorge), and the relationships of temptation surrounding the burden (molestia) weighing upon Augustine's self as a question to itself were displaced by existential categories of life. Yet we may still overhear tones of Paul, Augustine, and Luther in Heidegger's choice of a meditative exegesis of Nicomachean Ethics II, 5 (1106b 28-34) as a central motif of his Aristotelian reorientation. [40] Aristotle's passage reads:

Again, it is possible to fail (harmartanein) in many ways (for evil belongs to the class of the unlimited, as the Pythagoreans conjectured, and good (agathon) to that of the limited), while to act rightly (kathortoun) occurs in one way only (monachos). (Hence the one is easy, the other difficult: it is easy to miss the mark, hard to hit it). And for this reason it is characteristic of vice (tes kakias) to have excess (huperbole) or defect (elleipsis), and of  virtue (tes d'aretes) to hold to a mean (mesotes).

In fact, according to Heidegger's analysis, the hermeneutic situation for reading Aristotle was itself marked by different ways of missing the mark' [hamarteinein, Verfehlen]: philosophically trained interpreters were proponents of the philosophies of value, or of life, or of the kinds of science then prevalent. So, too, people in their humanity are likely to have been lost in the multitude of possible and purportedly meaningful pursuits, and to have fallen short by yielding to what is "easy." [41]

What lay at the heart of the explication of Augustine's analysis of the hindrances to self-knowledge that is missing from the Aristotle interpretation? The guiding question of Book X was: "Quid autem amo, cum te amo?" [42] In the Aristotle himself, the question of love in general is not explicit, except in the specific form of friendship, which excludes friendship between such unequals as the human being and god. The practically wise person's decisions about means in relation to a final end, the highest good and the theoretically wise person's contemplation of what is highest and best take the place of the love of God.

Now it is one thing for Aristotle to treat this issue outside the influence of revealed theologoumena before the New Testament was written, but what happens when one utterly prescinds from divine redemptive grace after the revelation has become publicly accessible? Then, although Heidegger repeatedly notes Augustine's hope in a supernatural solution to the problem of sin, in his existential interpretation of Book X's account of the hindrances to self-knowledge and knowledge of God, he stresses that concrete human living is a situation of ongoing tentatio, and has the character of molestia--a life oppressed by this-worldly desires and fears. And he simply equates molestia with Faktizitt! In other words, like the state of nature theories of Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau, which were intended to replace the biblical accounts of the Fall, for Heidegger sin and fallenness become naturalized. In contrast, according to traditional Christian teaching, human beings are created good by nature, and sin is a denaturing into which the human race falls contingently, which it is unable to overcome due to moral impotence; therefore, humanity stands in need of divine redemption.

Now both Aristotle and Plato were well aware of human sinfulness, but they wanted to resist human sin by drawing their readers' attention back to the natural order in which virtuous persons, having undergone a periagoge, might be socially and politically dominant. But Heidegger has lost faith in grace and redemption, and so Dasein's factical situation is defined by the horizon of death, an annihilation of possibilities in which nothingness really is nothing.

Voegelin and Augustine's Confessions

With the publication of Collected Works, Volume 32, [43] we see that Voegelin had correctly and masterfully understood Heidegger's teaching in SZ: "In [SZ's] analysis of fearing, we are essentially within the layer identified by Hobbes and Schelling, but it is fundamentally superior to the earlier formulations, as in part Kierkegaard's analysis was, because the analysis is not distorted by the interests of the natural-law deduction [of Hobbes] but comes into view directly in its self-givenness." As he goes on to say:

The term anxiety denotes a mode of the state-of-mind in which Dasein does not tremble before a world-immanent threatening Being, but before Dasein itself, as a Being-in-the-world. In the state of anxiety Dasein is not disclosed as that which is threatened by a specific content of the world, but "in-the-face of which one has anxiety, the It is nothing and nowhere.' [] What oppresses us is not this or that, nor is it the summation of everything present-at-hand; it is rather the possibility of the ready-to-hand in general; that is to say, it is the world itself." [SZ, 186] That in-the-face-of, of which one has anxiety, is Being-in-the-world as such. And in the same way the about-what of anguish is not a specific mode of Dasein's Being, but the sum of all of Dasein's Being-in-the-world. Anxiety "throws Dasein back upon that which it is anxious about--its authentic potentiality-for-Being-in-the-world. [] Therefore, with that which it is anxious about, anxiety discloses Dasein as Being-possible." [SZ, 187-88] [44]

For Voegelin, a specifically soteriological differentiation is implicit in the later prophets in Israel and Revelation and explicit in The New Science of Politics. When it is folded into the pneumatic differentiation of The Ecumenic Age, the human need for conversion becomes more general, as in Plato's periagoge. In light of Voegelin's universalist appropriation of St Thomas Aquinas on the Whole Christ, who is to say that the capacity of human beings to be converted is not caused by supernatural grace? How else are we to understand his praise for and use of Augustine's commentary in the Enarrationes in Psalmos, 64.2 that he says expresses "the tendency to abandon one's entanglements with the world, to abandon the love of self, and to turn toward the love of God"? [45] If this is a correct interpretation of Voegelin's meaning, then that is not bad Christian theology. It also lies at the root of Voegelin's difference from Heidegger.

When it comes to interpreting Augustine's Confessions, the only extant interpretations are from his early writings, especially those gathered in Volume 32. The first appears in "The Theory of Governance" (224-38) under the headings: Saint Augustine 's Theory of the Person: a) The Determination of the Person in the Meditation on Being; b) The Determination of the Person in the Meditation on Becoming." It is followed by contrasting treatments of Descartes' internalization of the idea of the person, and the theories of Husserl and Scheler. The second is entitled "Notes on Augustine. Time and Memory" (483-501), which analyses Book XI, chapters x to the end. It is followed by very important methodological remarks in section III, which is followed by the significant section IV devoted to the Discussions of Memory in Book X.' It should be noted that several remarks from the notes were incorporated almost verbatim into the "Theory of Governance" treatment.

First, it must be noted that Voegelin's exegesis of Confessions in Augustine's Theory of the Person' is part of a historical and systematic build-up of fundamental ideas for the theory of governance, and so it is a rather selective treatment that, while paysing close attention to the genre and the structure of Augustine's argument, is focused on a question Augustine was only obliquely concerned with.

Second, Voegelin acknowledges that Augustine's "philosophizing is that of faithful devotion, a yearning for peace in a suprapersonal being;" and that "the psychic tensions of the time in which his philosophizing took place is the worldly decay of creation and of the soul within it" (493). Moreover, "the cultural heritage and language in which philosophy finds its form is dominated by Christian dogma and the Bible." Nevertheless Voegelin is concerned to trace "an independent movement of reasoning that permeates his philosophizing."

Third, Voegelin excoriates any historicist ideas about progress in philosophy according to schemes involving the disenchantment of reason that have tended to prevail from Gotthold Lessing to Max Weber, because "at all times, even today, all layers of the spirit participate simultaneously in structuring the philosophical object and in each instance structure it completely; thus not only does it not need to be further developed, but in fact it cannot be" (493-4). This does not mean that Augustine is not specifically using reason within the meditative process to illuminate the issues with which he is concerned; Voegelin engages in the meditative process to concentrate on that argument.

Voegelin enucleates the two principal schemata that determine the essence of the person: one based on an "explicit or nave ontology" of being, in which one ascends from external beings to the internal being of the human soul, and from the soul's interior upwards to God, "the soul of the soul;" the other in terms of the movement of becoming, from what is passing and transitory to that which is the permanent and unchanging principle of all becoming. In either case, Voegelin follows Augustine's "meditative course," which he reformulates as a procedure of dialectical purification, in which basic terms such as "before" and "after" are purified of all spatial and limiting connotations, and so transformed in their positive meanings laden with "intuitive content" derived from experience and understanding of the finite, and so applied to the immaterial and infinite, stripped of all "intuitive content." This dialectic thus involves switching back and forth between the mystic's via negativa, with its step-by-step removal of all limitations, and kataphatic theology, with its positive assertions about divine transcendence--a precursor to more the explanatory analogous discourse of Aquinas (235-6).

Voegelin says that the first meditative course is a "seeking" which "has a direction but no rational notations with which to describe its goal" (227). In X, 40 Augustine calls the goal a "secure place" (tutum locum), which means that the soul in a state of unrest has to pass through and eliminate all that is insecure, namely all empirically accessible and world-immanent beings. Yet this is not a scorched-earth procedure, because Augustine realizes that in the measure that all light, voices, embraces, fragrances, meat are loveable, God as their creator is somehow involved with them. In the safe place, "all my scattered members may be gathered together," implying that a fundamental hindrance for him is incontinence, a dispersion of his interest into a manifold of finite interests.

According to Voegelin, Augustine's argument can only be grasped by "one who follows the movement of the confession, who has himself enacted the confession to God" (227). The steps proceed from the corporeal and sensible realities through the animating principle of life, to memoria; and, in the sphere of memoria, from the memory of sense perceptions, memories of mathematical entities beyond the senses (that Voegelin names Platonic anamnesis) and memories of emotions, to the "memory of memories." Voegelin comments confirming what was said above in the Heidegger section: "The memory that remembers itself, the consciousness of consciousness, this reiterative power of man is his innermost self, his animus (soul) In chapter 16 this thought is compactly expressed in wording reminiscent of Descartes: ego sum, qui memini, ego animus.'" The provisional end of the meditation is a definition of the core of the person as a reiteration of memory: "It is in reciprocally related acts of memory that the ego ipse [the core of the self] is constituted" (228).

The second meditative course in terms of becoming in Book XI, on time, deconstructs the metaphors of place' and space,' "through the monolog form of the confession of faith and the dialectical turn of meaning" (233). The quest focuses on the classic opposite of motion, namely, rest. Time is always a matter of motion, so rest has to be a "Sabbath of eternal life and a peace in God" beyond time. Here Augustine's meditative dialectic takes us beyond anything conditioned by space and time, which holds true of all creatures, enacting an intentio ad Deum. God the creator is beyond space and time yet related to all creatures through the contingent act of creation. Outside time, God abides as eternal now, to whom all space and time is present all at once (totum simul). "It is in the core of the personality of the soul that the point is found in which created, extended time intersects with God's uncreated eternity, which has no extention" (234). From that standpoint, Augustine pivots and regrasps time and the entirety of creation as the opposite of such intentio--distentio: "The concept of distentio has the double meaning of extension and dis-tension [i.e., relation of tension], dissipation, and of a lapse" (234). So Voegelin notes that in this meditation Augustine conflates created nature and fallen creation. "Not only [is it] an extention in the sense of the spatial image of a line, but also in the sense of a lapse from God; the entire creatura--and along with it, the human soul--is a distentio: ecce distentio est vita mea' [behold, my life is but a distraction [XI, 29]--a slackening, a dissipation" (234) from which only God can deliver us.

For Voegelin the outcome of both meditations is "insight into the essence of the human person, who can be characterized by his openness to a transcendent being, by his being a frontier between the world, with its being and becoming, and a superworld" (236).


From this comparison of Heidegger and Voegelin we can draw tentative conclusions. Although they came to terms with Augustine's Confessions rather differently, the conclusion they reached are similar in so far as each interpreter shows that in treating the basic relationship between God and human beings, Augustine made potentially important contributions to philosophical anthropology. They also agree that at the time in his life when he was writing Confessions, Augustine tended not to distinguish clearly between creation as such, and creation as fallen.

For Voegelin, who conceived of himself as open to divine transcendence and may even have implicitly espoused a universalist notion of saving grace, this confusion did not result in a catastrophic imbalance. As Geoffrey Price argued so convincingly, when Voegelin faced the task of incorporating the realism of Machiavelli and Hobbes into his political theory of history, he retrieved from Plato's Laws the more integral premodern approach to political and historical evil.

For Heidegger, who apparently no longer believed in God's grace in a Christian sense, the horizon of his most well known book was restricted to world-immanent realities and oriented toward the ultimate annihilation of all possibilities in death. In his later poetic attempts to rethink what was positive in the ontological distinction between beings as manipulable and Being as unverfgbar, he developed a kind of heuristic eschatology, saying in the famous Rudolf Augstein interview towards the end of his life, "Only a god can save us!"

[1] Not a new topic for me. See Frederick G. Lawrence, "The Problem of Eric Voegelin: Mystic Philosopher and Scientist," International and Interdisciplinary Perspective of Eric Voegelin, edited by Stephen A. McKnight and Geoffrey Price (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997), 10-34; 35-58.

[2] Leo Strauss, "An Introduction to Heideggerian Existentialism," The Rebirth of Classical Political Rationalism. Essays and Lectures by Leo Strauss edited by Thomas L. Pangle (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1989), 28.

[3] Fergus Kerr, Immortal Longings (1997), 47.

[4] Martin Heidegger, Unterwegs zur Sprache (Stuttgart, 1993, 10th ed), 96.

[5] See Geoffrey Price, "Critical History after Augustine and Orosius: Voegelin's Return to Plato," International and Interdisciplinary Perspective of Eric Voegelin, edited by Stephen A. McKnight and Geoffrey Price (Columbia, MO: University of Missouri Press, 1997), 84-116; The scope and many details of the transformation are pieced together in Barry Cooper, Eric Voegelin and the Foundations of Modern Political Science, (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), s.v. the Index under "Augustine."

[6] Hugo Ott, Heidegger: A Political Life, translated by A. Blunden (London: HarperCollins, 1993); Rdiger Safranski, Ein Meister aus Deutschland (1994), chapters 1 & 2.

[7] Nicholas Boyle, "The new spirit of Germany ," The Tablet, 7 May 2005, 4-5 at 4.

[8] Martin Heidegger, "Brief an Engelbert Krebs," in Bernhard Casper, "Martin Heidegger und die Theologische Fakultt Freiburg 1909-1923," Freiburger Dizesan-Archiv, 100.

[9] Heidegger, Unterwegs zur Sprache, 96.

[10] H.-G. Gadamer, Heideggers Wege (1983), 145.

[11] See Johannes Schaber, OSB, "Phnomenologie und Mnchtum: Max Scheler, Martin Heidegger, Edith Stein, und die Erzabtei Beuron," Leben, Tod und Entscheidung. Studien zur Geistesgeschichte der Weimarer Republik [Beitrge zur Politischen Wissenschaft, Bd. 127], edited by Stephan Loos and Holger Zaborowski ( Berlin : Duncker & Humblot, 2003), 71-100.

[12] H.-G. Gadamer, "Marburger Theologie (1964)," Heideggers Wege (Tbingen: Mohr, 1983), 29.

[13] Heidegger, PhrL, 9.

[14] Martin Heidegger, Prologomena zur Geschichte des Zeitbegriffs (Gesamtausgabe 20), edited by Petra Jaeger (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1979), 109-10.

[15] Martin Heidegger, Phnomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles. Einfhrung in die phnomenologische Forschung, (Gesamtausgabe 61), edited by Walter Brcker and Kte Brcker-Oltmanns (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1985), 246. Here is his fullest statement on philosophy as atheistic: "Atheistic" not in the sense of a theory like materialism or anything similar. Any philosophy that in that which it is, understands itself, has to know, as the factical How of its life-interpretation precisely when in doing so it still has a presentiment of God, that, religiously speaking, the wrenching back of its life being performed by it, is a raising up of the hand against God. Only in this way does it maintain its honor, i.e. in accord with the possibility before God available to it as such; here atheistic conveys: holding oneself free from the misguided state of concernedness that merely discusses religiosity. See also Hans-Ulrich Lessing, ed. Dilthey Jahrbuch fr Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften 6 (1989) 235-274 at 246.

[16] Martin Heidegger, Ontologie (Hermeneutik der Faktizitt), (Gesamtausgabe 63), edited by Kte Brcker-Oltmanns (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1995), 7.

[17] Martin Heidegger, Phnomenologie des religisen Lebens, (Gesamtausgabe 60), edited by Matthias Jung/Thomas Regehly/Claudius Strube ( Frankfurt , 1995), 121.

[18] Heidegger, PrL, 67.

[19] Heidegger, PrL, 63.

[20] Heidegger, PrL, 10.

[21] Heidegger, Phnomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles. Einfhrung in die phnomenologische Forschung, 18.

[22] Heidegger, PrL, 1.

[23] Heidegger, PrL, 103.

[24] Rowan Williams, "Suspicion of Suspicion: Wittgenstein and Bonhoeffer," The Grammar of the Heart. New Essays in Moral Philosophy edited by Richard H. Bell (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 48.

[25] Austin Farrer, Love Almighty and Ills Unlimited (London: Collins/Fontana, 1962), 114.

[26] Heidegger, Phnomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles. Einfhrung in die phnomenologische Forschung, 35.

[27] Heidegger, Grundprobleme der Phnomenologie (1919/1920), (Gesamtausgabe 58), edited by Hans-Helmuth Gander (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1992), 61.

[28] Ibid. 187-8, 212-4.

[29] Heidegger, PrL, 298:"Self-certainty and self-possession in Augustine's sense is something quite different from the Cartesian evidence of the cogito'."

[30] See Martin Heidegger, "Anhang II, 8. Das Sein der Selbst [Schlustck der Vorlesung]," Gesamtausgabe II. Abteilung: Vorlesungen, vol. 60 Phnomenologie des religisen Lebens: 2. Augustinus und der Neuplatonismus,Wintersemester 1921. Edited by Claudius Strube (Frankfurt a.M.: Vittorio Klostermann, 1995) , 298-9.

[31] This usage has been further confirmed in Salvino Biolo's exhaustive research into the meaning of the cognates of nosci/noscor in the opera omnia. See Salvino Biolo, SJ, L'Autocoscienza di S. Agostino Analecta Gregoriana ( Rome : Editrice Pontificia Universit Gregoriana, 2000). One of Biolo's chapters is entitled, "The conscious psychological subject is the ego-mens' as memoria-sui'" (80-107). Independently of Heidegger, Biolo makes explicit what remained implicit in Heidegger's pioneering 1921 Augustine interpretation. See citation and reference above, p.  8.

[32] Hans-Georg Gadamer, "Erinnerungen an Heideggers Anfnge," Dilthey Jahrbuch fr Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften 4 (1986-87) 13-26 at 21.

[33] Carl Friedrich Gethmann, "Philosophie als Vollzug und als Begriff. Heideggers Identittsphilosophie des Lebens in der Vorlesung vom Wintersemester 1921/23 und ihr Verhltnis zu Sein und Zeit'," Dilthey Jahrbuch fr Philosophie und Geschichte der Geisteswissenschaften 4 (1986-87) 27-53.

[34] Heidegger, PrL, 193, footnote 5.

[35] "Certainly we have the desire for it, but how I do not know."

[36] " the happy life we already have in our awareness, and so we love it, and yet we want to acquire it in order to be happy."

[37] " unless there were some memory of it in their memory,"

[38] Theodore Kisiel, "Die Entstehung des Begriffsfeldes Faktizitt' im Frhwerk Heideggers," Dilthey Jahrbuch 4 (1986-87), 91-120.

[39] Thomas Sheehan, "Hermeneia and Apophansis: The Early Heidegger on Aristotle," Heidegger et l'idee de la phenomenologie edited by F. Volpi, et al. Phenomenologica, Vol 108. (Dordrecht: Kluwer 1976) 252-271.

[40] Heidegger, Martin Heidegger, "Phnomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles (Anzeige der hermeneutischen Situation)," 108.

[41] Manfred Riedel, "Seinsverstndnis und Sinn fr das Tunliche, Der hermeneutische Weg zur praktischen Philosophie," Hren auf die Sprache  131-163 at142-143.

[42] "But what do I love, when I love you?"

[43] Eric Voegelin,  The Theory of Governance and Other Miscellaneous Papers, (Collected Works, Vol. 32), translated by Sue Rollans, Jodi Cockerill, M.J. Hanak, Ingrid Heidt, Elisabeth von Lochner, William Petropoulos; edited by William Petropoulos, Gilbert Weiss (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2003), 406-409.

[44] Voegelin, Miscellaneous Papers, 1921-1938, 408-9.

[45] Eric Voegelin, "Immortality: Experience and Symbol," Published Essays 1966-1985, [Collected Works, Vol. 12], 78-9.