published on April 11, 2020
“The Great Burden” of Religion
Jonas on Heidegger’s Ambivalence towards the Jewish-Christian Tradition
This article aims to reread Jonas’s famous lecture on “Heidegger and Theology” linking it with a still unpublished lecture course on Being and Time Jonas held in 1967 at the New School for Social Research. From the reading of Heidegger’s masterwork, Jonas takes the idea of the “burdensome” character of the existence, which he interprets in terms of a “polarity” between man and his “other” (other men, God, world). Such a polarity is for Jonas the very essence of “religion” (as religamen) and of responsibility. From this vantage point, “Heidegger and Theology,” with its sharp criticism of the theological appropriation of Heidegger’s post-turn philosophy, appears to be a strong defense of the burden of “polarity,” as developed in Being and Time, against its removal by the thought of Being: a Being which is nothing but a mirror image of Dasein. Partially reconsidering his views on Heidegger’s Gnosticism, Jonas turns (the earlier) Heidegger against (the later) Heidegger himself.