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Wilmot Robertson’s Obituary for Martin Heidegger

Kunze_Heidegger3391 words

Editor’s Note:

Although Instauration pieces are not signed, based on style and content, I believe this obituary for Martin Heidegger was written by Wilmot Robertson.

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)

As far as we know there is only one atheistic philosopher whose thought ever triggered religious resonances in the soul of his readers. That was Martin Heidegger (pictured). His greatest work Sein und Zeit is poetry, drama and philosophy all in one, or as the master might say, all in all.

Heidegger died in May, 1976. He may eventually be known as the greatest thinker of the twentieth century. His delayed recognition by an America whose own philosophers have become second-rate ideologues is an insult to one of the great stirrings of the human imagination.

This is no place to summarize the main points or even the essence of Heidegger’s thought. He was the founder of existentialism, but quickly disowned it when plagiaristic intellects like Sartre and Teilhard de Chardin started usurping, perverting, or religifying his philosophy.

Among a thousand other things, Heidegger taught us that a belief in immortality robbed man of his manhood. The play that has no final act, the time that has no end, the life that doesn’t round off cripple the whole meaning of existence. We act, we strive, we do the impossible precisely because we have a limited time in which to act, strive and perform our wonders. If we had infinite time, we would not be pressed; we would not concentrate; we would simply float along the boring streams of endlessness.

Time was not relative to Heidegger. Time was absolute. Anxiety and dread were not evil. They were the catalysts of the human spirit. No one, including Spengler, has delineated the Promethean and Faustian spirit in such bold strokes.

You will shudder when you read Heidegger. He dotes on the awful mysteries that this sickening age has tried to suffocate.

Heidegger dove deeper into the depths of being than anyone before him. And he found symbols and meanings in these depths that had never been seen by any other eye or imagined by any other mind. It is sad that the man who knew most about existence no longer exists. It is ironic that the man who could not abide the idea of an afterlife will live immortally in the mind of the future.

Source: Instauration, September, 1976

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  1. Marc
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 2:19 am | Permalink

    Thank you for posting this. It is always interesting to read an intelligent laymen’s assessment of the upshot of Heidegger’s philosophy. The author picks what probably is Heidegger’s most original nugget of wisdom (from Being and Time) to contribute: Reckoning one’s finitude is necessary to expose the event of Being meaningfully.

  2. 98052
    Posted May 28, 2015 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

    ‘As far as we know there is only one atheistic philosopher whose thought ever triggered religious resonances in the soul of his readers . . .’

    Hadn’t a man as well-read as W.R. ever heard of Nietzsche?

  3. Sartor
    Posted May 29, 2015 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    So glad you have republished this. It’s easy to forget what a gifted writer Wilmot Robertson was. He had an amazing ability to capture the essence of complex topics in just a few paragraphs. Instauration is still a treasure trove of insightful commentary and it’s great to see that you are still delving into it.

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