Heidegger’s “Fourfold” as a Critique of Idolatry

Markus Weidler


Heidegger’s conception of “the fourfold,” or Geviert, and the meaning of its various aspects (“earth and sky, divinities and mortals”) is notoriously elusive. As a remedy to this situation I propose to read the fourfold as a programmatic blueprint for critiquing idolatry. Heidegger’s central concern, I argue, lies with idolatrous aspirations toward immortality, which are typically generated in certain cultural milieus. To make this case, I will draw on recent commentaries by Julian Young and Mark Johnston as well as on one of Heidegger’s near contemporaries, Georg Simmel. Specifically, Simmel’s milieu-based analyses in Philosophical Culture (1911) provide the much needed illustrations that will allow us to render Heidegger’s own culture-critical insights more concrete, with respect to the fourfold’s dynamic structure and inner tensions. (MW)

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