Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy

Volume 10, Issue 1, Fall 2005

Ben Vedder
Pages 141-154

A Philosophical Understanding of Heidegger’s Notion of the Holy

This paper poses the question of how to understand Heidegger’s notion of the holy in its relevance to a phenomenology of religion. I show that the holy is connected with Heidegger’s notion of the “whole” as it is analysed in anxiety, boredom, and wonder. Insofar as there is no experience of the whole in our time, there is also no experience of the holy. The notion of the whole and the holy are linked with Heidegger’s analysis of the contemporary era, which is a time in which the gods have fled. Religions have a history because the way that the holy appears (hierophany) is connected with the openness of the situation in which it appears. The notion of the holy is therefore historical because it is taken up into the destiny and historicity of being. As long as there is no hierophany, there is no understanding of the gods in a religion.