Document Type : Original Article
Gonzaga University, Associate Professor of Philosophy.
Philosophy at Gonzaga University
In Origin of the Work of Art, Heidegger presents an evocative claim about the way the Temple to Athena on the Acropolis, opens a world rich with meaning and resonant with significance that orients the Athenian people within reality thus allowing their relations to others and to nature to appear as meaningful and ultimately nourishing. In other words, the Temple, like all great works of art, opens a world that is also a home. This article reviews the import of Heidegger’s reflection on monumental art, but we quickly turn to the principle objection to Heidegger’s thought, which is that the entire venture by which an artistic, religious, or poetic event organizes a world for “a people” is fundamentally illegitimate because of the way it binds individuals to an identity that outgroups the “foreigners” that do not belong to this identity and thus marginalizes them.
This objection is a central motivating force for liberalism, and since World War II, and particularly since the fall of the Soviet Union, has been almost hegemonic in many strands of philosophical thought and the globalized culture more widely. Thus, we see that the objection against Heidegger is primarily ethical and political and concerns not only his philosophy but the central and inter-related phenomenological ideas of the horizon, Lebenswelt, and the world—and thus the very relation of phenomenology itself—to contemporary ethical-political thinking. But because the objections are so strongly rooted in motivations, our phenomenological inquiry into the ‘world’ will have to be supplemented by recourse to hermeneutics.