From the Ultimate God to the Virtual God: Post-Ontotheological Perspectives on the Divine in Heidegger, Badiou, and Meillassoux


The Heideggerian account of the ontotheological constitution of Western metaphysics has been extremely influential for contemporary philosophy of religion and for philosophical perspectives on theology and the divine. This paper introduces and contrasts two central strategies for approaching the question of the divine in a non- or post-ontotheological manner. The first and more established approach is that of post-Heideggerian hermeneutics and deconstruction, inspired by Heidegger’s suggestion of a “theology without the word ‘being’” and by his later notions of an “ultimate god” and of “divinities” as one of the four axes of the fourfold (Geviert). Here, the divine is no longer articulated in terms of the supreme or absolute being, but as one of the interdependent dimensions of finite and contextual meaningful presence. The more recent approach introduced by Alain Badiou and Quentin Meillassoux dissociates itself from the Heideggerian hermeneutics of finitude and adopts mathematics as its basic ontological model. Rather than focusing on meaning and sense, Badiou and Meillassoux replace ontotheological metaphysics with materialist frameworks. With regard to the divine, this approach leads either to a contemporary version of atheism (Badiou) or to the reintroduction of a divine entity, but now a merely possible and contingent one (Meillassoux).

Keywords: Heidegger, Badiou, Meillassoux, ontotheology, metaphysics, God, divine, theology, hermeneutics, materialism

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