The metaphysics of relation
Heidegger, Edith Stein, and the mystics of the Church
Welcome! This post is free. If you are a free subscriber, consider an upgrade to support my work and view all posts in this newsletter. Thank you for being here!
Edith Stein said that the only way we can know that which is timeless (substance) in a temporal (time) mode of being is if the timeless 'known' has an analogous relationship with the temporal 'knower' or through the effect the timeless has on the temporal. (Knowledge and Faith)1.
This is a very Platonic concept. It struck me hard years ago and became a foundation for my own model. The reason I bring it up is that it can be applied to Heidegger's notion of Aletheia, or truth. Richard Capobianco makes a very reasonable assertion that Heidegger never set out to "destroy metaphysics." He simply wanted to go to their roots, to move metaphysics out of the way, that we could investigate the ground from which they came.2 My own reading of Heidegger leads to the same conclusion.
Capobianco goes on to assert that Heidegger, in fact, went further by developing a "refashioned" metaphysics. Heideggerian metaphysics is one of relation. He was reflecting on our dynamic relationship with Being in time as opposed to our timeless substance of Being, which is traditional metaphysics.
Heidegger's "metaphysics" were built around wonder, astonishment, unconcealment, i.e., "Aletheia." He pondered the relationship we have with nature as we walk through the forest or with the ocean as we watch the brilliant orange sun sink below the horizon only to mysteriously appear again in the morning against the opposite horizon. This is a very "refashioned" metaphysics, indeed! Heidegger was more concerned with the presence of the trees and their unconcealment as he strolled through the Black Forest than with the nature of "treeness" (traditional metaphysics).
Where I'm going with all this is that Heidegger did not "destroy" traditional metaphysics. He discovered another manifestation of metaphysics as "relation." There is an analogous relationship with Heideggerian metaphysics and the Faith as represented in the mystics of the Church. Mystics such as Francis of Assis, Teresa of Avila, John of the Cross, and many more wrote down their thoughts in ways that seem other worldly from traditional metaphysics. They lived within that traditional metaphysics, but clearly found another manifestation of them through their relationship with Jesus.
The analogous relationship between Heideggerian metaphysics of relation and that of the mystics of the Church is a ground I intend to cover with the aid of Edith Stein and Martin Heidegger.
We ask first: is it possible for a mind that knows in a temporal process to know something that endures timelessly? For this an actual contact between knower and known is needed that is itself something temporal. This will only be possible if the thing enduring timelessly has a relation to the temporal; that is, either it is analogous to a species in individuo [a species in the individual] as we found in the units of experience, or it has an effect on something temporal. In no case can something that knows in temporal acts know anything timelessly enduring immediately in its timeless existence [Existenz].
~ Stein, Edith. Knowledge and Faith (The Collected Works of Edith Stein, Vol. 8). Kindle, ICS Publications, Institute of Carmelite Studies, 2000.