The 'Holy Fire' to the 'Clarity of Presentation': What Europe and Islam can Learn from Heidegger's Juxtaposition of the Ancient Greeks and Modern Germans
My main argument will focus on Heidegger’s argument on what modern Germans have as their ownmost relationship with Being and what they are lacking that they should appropriate from the Greeks. Heidegger asserts that the Greeks reciprocally lacked but then appropriated conceptual thinking. It is clear that Heidegger considers the Greeks part of the tradition of the modern Germans and the modern Germans as the destiny of the Ancient Greeks. To understand this link of tradition and destiny, we must understand the importance of the hermeneutic circle and Heidegger’s concept of history and how poetic language and history allows modern Germans to open up new futures for their community. What is referred to as the holy is what allows Germans to be, what Charles Taylor calls, “porous” like the Ancient Greeks and gives Germans a nearness to the gods. It is this porousness that could provide the potential link between the Greeks and the Germans. By comparing the Germans and the Greeks to pathological individuals, I will show that to Heidegger, the Greeks had a proper relationship with history, tradition and ownership of their collective actions and what Heidegger calls the “holy fire” while having a pathological relationship with their destiny, the future and agency, what Heidegger calls “clarity of presentation.” While the Germans conversely had a good sense of agency, of progress into the future, a clarity of presentation, they had a bad sense of ownership through the modern epoch’s essence of subjectivism, a pathological relationship to their tradition and a lack of receptivity to history, the “holy fire.” I will attempt to link this to our modern political problems of how we define the “we” in Europe by suggesting that Europe and its Islamic community surprisingly echo the problems of the Greeks and Germans.