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International Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 59, Issue 2, June 2019

Daniel Adsett
Pages 155-173

Milbank and Heidegger on the Possibility of a Secular Analogy of Being

Traditionally, analogical ontologies—ontologies that are hierarchically structured with beings participating in a primary being—have been defended by those who criticize secularism. Secularism, it is said, depends on the leveling out of being, the elimination of hierarchies in favor of ontologies in which beings differ only according to intensity. John Milbank, for example, argues that secularism became a possibility only once medieval analogical ontologies were supplanted by univocal accounts of being. In this paper, however, I argue that an endorsement of an analogical ontology is not restricted to pre-moderns and those critical of secularism. It is possible, I argue, to conceive of a secular version of analogical ontology. Martin Heidegger’s mid-career account of being offers us an example of such an ontology. In what follows, I attempt to reconstruct Heidegger’s mid-career ontology as analogically and secularly organized. In doing so, I challenge Milbank’s claim that secular ontologies are necessarily non-analogical.

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