chapter  9
12 Pages

An Ethics of Home and Hope: Kierkegaard's Exile and Heidegger's Emigrant

WithMegan Altman

Commentators on Heidegger’s relationship to Kierkegaard have tended to claim that Heidegger’s reading of the ethico-religious dimensions of Kierkegaard’s thought seems cold and compassionless. Where Kierkegaard’s ‘exilic’ view of ethical life restores, albeit in a transformative way, what Angst and despair nullify, critics have a hard time seeing a correlative experience in Heidegger’s ontology. Hence, such critics argue, true community remains inaccessible for Heidegger’s authentic individual, who has been rendered an ‘emigrant’ irreparably estranged from the ethical. However, what I find most striking about Heidegger’s view of ‘ethics,’ when properly understood as etymologically related to ‘dwelling’ and ‘abode,’ is how it seems to offer an existential hope that, much like Kierkegaard’s eschatological hope, enables us to experience the highest, holy things in the lowliest, humble places. My argument moves beyond the narrower task of responding to the particular criticisms, and goes on to offer tentative conclusions about the possibility of finding ethical notions of home and hope in the work of Kierkegaard and Heidegger.