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Sludds, Kevin. The Incurious Seeker's Quest for Meaning: Heidegger, Mood and Christianity.

SLUDDS, Kevin. The Incurious Seeker's Quest for Meaning: Heidegger, Mood and Christianity. Bern: Peter Lang, 2014. 232 pp. Paper, $64.95--This book's overarching aim is to argue that the significance of affect within the fundamental ontology of Martin Heidegger's early philosophy has been misunderstood and so underestimated, and that a proper appreciation of its importance will help us to appreciate the intimacy of the relation between Sein und Zeit's existential analytic of Dasein and Christian faith and theology.

The volume consists of eleven chapters, the first being a lengthy introductory summary of the remaining ten, and the second offering a brief account of the close ties between Heidegger's family and early life and the Catholic Church. Chapter three offers an initial characterization of Dasein's self-questioning search for meaning, and thereby for transformation from inauthenticity to authenticity; chapter four shows how an understanding of Dasein's being as care unfolds a particular conception of the world and our relations to everything within it, according to which we exist as thrown projection (always-already situated and transcending that situation). Chapters five and six focus specifically on our thrownness: the first treats affective states as they appear on an ontic level (the level of empirical actuality open to investigation by empirical sciences); the second treats them ontologically, arguing that ontic emotions and moods must be underpinned by aspects of Dasein's ontological structure (that which makes its distinctive ways of being possible), and that guilt is particularly helpful in that it discloses the fact that our Being is Being-guilty--that is, subject to a fundamental lack. Chapter seven shifts the focus to anxiety, arguing that many commentators (including Lyons and Taylor) treat it solely as an ontic phenomenon, and thereby occlude its ontological significance--its ability to reveal our uncanniness, our not-being-at-home in the world, which thus potentially discloses God as a possible ground or regrounding of our Being. Chapter eight uses this analysis to grasp the role of death in the existential analytic, as the anxiety it provokes offers us a way of overcoming our everyday inauthenticity. Chapter nine offers a detailed critique of other commentators (including this reviewer), whose grasp of this transformative process as Heidegger conceives it is said to be distorted by their persistent focus on the ontic and the cognitive. Chapter ten brings the argument to a climax, offering the author's preferred account of the relation between the call of conscience, resoluteness, and the achievement of authenticity, and arguing for an internal relation between this account and the one central to Christian religious thought. The final chapter offers a brief summary of the book's line of argument.

The text has an unreliable index, and is marred throughout by errors of spelling, punctuation, and grammar that make it difficult for the reader to be certain that he has grasped the finer details and key steps of its argument. The necessarily concise overall account of Heidegger may well be too compressed for newcomers, although its basic shape will be recognizable to those working in the area. Its concentration on the affective dimension of Dasein's ontology sometimes threatens to occlude the fact that Heidegger attaches equal significance to both dimensions of our thrown projection; but this emphasis seems justified by the book's theological impetus--that is, by the belief that it is through Heidegger's account of our thrownness that we come most closely into contact with Christian structures and rhythms of thought. Unfortunately, although it repeatedly draws comparisons between a given aspect of Heidegger's early thinking and some element of Christian scripture or theology (as articulated by Calvin, St. Paul, Rudolph Otto, and many others), the book never offers a precise specification of how this philosophical project relates to its theological counterparts. "Parallels," "resemblances," and "affinities" are regularly asserted, with each term apparently regarded as a synonym for the others: but most have long been recognized by other scholars, and the really important question is how to evaluate their significance. Should we conclude that Heidegger's project is either essentially Christian or only properly fulfilled on theological territory, or that a version of Christianity is conceptually compatible with this version of Heidegger's project (and so vice versa), or that Christianity provided Heidegger with conceptual resources that he then resolutely and successfully stripped of any religious significance (perhaps to the detriment of his own project)? That there are options of these kinds between which to choose is never acknowledged, so their relative merits are not considered; and the early Heidegger's own explicit arguments for treating philosophy atheistically are never properly addressed.

Accordingly, even a reader genuinely interested in the central concern of this book is unlikely to find his understanding of it enhanced. --Stephen Mulhall, New College--Oxford
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Author:Mulhall, Stephen
Publication:The Review of Metaphysics
Article Type:Book review
Date:Sep 1, 2015
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