Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement

By Ian Alexander Moore

Subjects: Heidegger, History Of Philosophy, Continental Philosophy, Theology, Phenomenology
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Hardcover : 9781438476513, 350 pages, November 2019
Paperback : 9781438476520, 350 pages, July 2020

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents

General Introduction

Part I.

1. The Thinker and the Master: Heidegger on Eckhart
Part II.


2. Thinking, Being, and the Problem of Ontotheology in Eckhart's Latin Writings

3. Become Who You Are: The Oneness of Thinking and Being as Releasement in Eckhart's German Writings

4. Eckhart's Strategies for Cultivating Releasement

Part III.


5. The Middle Voice of Releasement in Heidegger's Lecture Courses, 1928-30

6. Violent Thinking and Being in Heidegger's Introduction to Metaphysics, 1935

7. Releasement as the Essence of Thinking and Being in Heidegger's First "Country Path Conversation," 1945


Appendix One
Materials on Heidegger's Relation to Eckhart

1. Editions of Eckhart Consulted, Owned, or Referenced by Heidegger

2. Locations of Heidegger's References to Eckhart and Pseudo-Eckhart

3. Heidegger's Citations of Eckhart and Pseudo-Eckhart

4. Heidegger's Marginalia und Underlining in His Personal Copies of Eckhart

5. Summary of Eckhart's/Pseudo-Eckhart's Texts Read or Cited by Heidegger

6. Reports on Heidegger's Relation to Eckhart

7. Heidegger's Evaluation of Kate Oltmanns's Dissertation on Eckhart

8. Heidegger's Notes on Kate Oltmanns's Oral Examination

Appendix Two
"Essentiality, Existence, and Ground in Meister Eckehart," by Kate Oltmanns

Appendix Three
"Nietzsche's Zarathustra and Meister Eckhart," by Nishitani Keiji

Published Primary Sources
Unpublished Sources
Secondary Sources

Provides the first systematic interpretation of Heidegger’s relation to Eckhart, centering on the idea that we must release ourselves in order to know the truth.


In the late Middle Ages the philosopher and mystic Meister Eckhart preached that to know the truth you must be the truth. But how to be the truth? Eckhart's answer comes in the form of an imperative: release yourself, let be. Only then will you be able to understand that the deepest meaning of being is releasement and become who you truly are. This book interprets Eckhart's Latin and Middle High German writings under the banner of an imperative of releasement, and then shows how the twentieth-century thinker Martin Heidegger creatively appropriates this idea at several stages of his career. Heidegger had a lifelong fascination with Eckhart, referring to him as "the old master of letters and life." Drawing on archival material and Heidegger's marginalia in his personal copies of Eckhart's writings, Moore argues that Eckhart was one of the most important figures in Heidegger's philosophy. This book also contains previously unpublished documents by Heidegger on Eckhart, as well as the first English translation of Nishitani Keiji's essay "Nietzsche's Zarathustra and Meister Eckhart," which he initially gave as a presentation in one of Heidegger's classes in 1938.

Ian Alexander Moore is a faculty member at St. John's College in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He is the coeditor (with Alan D. Schrift) of Transcendence and the Concrete: Selected Writings by Jean Wahl.


"Moore's book presents both a thought-provoking argument and a wealth of material for scholars interested in exploring further the ways in which the thinking of Meister Eckhart shaped that of Heidegger." — Medieval Review

"Moore's monograph is a significant contribution to the vibrant and exciting contemporary scholarship on Heidegger, which combines rigorous exegetical and archival research with original readings of Heidegger and the historical figures from whom he draws." — Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal

"…careful exegetes of Eckhart and Heidegger will appreciate Moore's attention to detail, which extends to the poetically provocative mood of both the Dominican's sermons and the phenomenologist's lectures … Throughout the volume, Moore also displays his intellectual-historical expertise. The connections between Eckhart and Heidegger are not vague suppositions but concretely traceable points of intersection." — Journal of the History of Philosophy

"This is a valuable book … the scholarship of the book is rigorous and exhaustive … Heideggerians will find much to occupy themselves in this book; it develops an interesting and thoughtful way of approaching Heidegger and his influences, of thinking about his work as a whole and of individual texts." — Heythrop Journal

"How far does the elective affinity between [Eckhart and Heidegger] reach, where is its systematic center, and does this also make Heidegger a mystic—and what would that mean? … Moore pursues these questions in a comprehensive way … a valuable compendium that should not be missing in any library on the modern reception of mysticism or on Heidegger." —Philosophische Rundschau

"In view of the significant unpublished, unknown, or almost forgotten documents that the author has taken care to make available to his readers, the seriousness of this work cannot … be called into question. To this should be added that the notes to the text … are a veritable mine of information … Moore's study has the indisputable merit of having, following Reiner Schürmann, placed the problem of the Heidegger-Eckhart relation under the prism of the question of experience, and the latter not only as a concept, but also as a proper medium for thought … Moore's monograph is today, incontestably, the most accomplished and detailed work on the relation between Meister Eckhart and Martin Heidegger." —Actu Philosophia

"Moore's monograph has many virtues. It is carefully researched and makes contributions to studies of Eckhart and Heidegger independently, as well as to the field of research pertaining to the former's influence on the latter. Not least among its virtues is the lucidity of its prose and clarity of its argumentation. Moore handles complicated concepts and familiar Heideggerian ambiguities with clarifying precision." — Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual

"Moore demonstrates the impressively thorough, careful, and creative research conducted in the formation of the book … For scholars of Heidegger and Eckhart, Moore's Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement contributes not only a unique and well-supported argument for Eckhart's influence on Heidegger's entire corpus, but also an abundance of material essential for future endeavours on the same topic." — Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy

"…Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement provides exceptional insight into one of Martin Heidegger's most elusive conceptual developments … Moore's monograph contributes much: impressive archival research, a deep understanding of two perplexing thinkers, and a persuasively argued conclusion which maintains that releasement is the appropriate mode of being for the human being." — Continental Philosophy Review

"…one must say that [Moore's study] is a true success. His extremely meticulous work of exegesis … will become a reference point in Heidegger studies, if it is true that Heidegger's relation to the first Rheinland mystic is one that, as he shows, harbors the secret of a renewed and deepened understanding of Heidegger's thought in its evolution as in its errancy." — Revue Philosophique

"Without succumbing to the temptation to distort Eckhart's perspective through Heidegger's thinking of being or to falsify Heidegger's reappraisal through the theological presuppositions of the German mystic, Moore succeeds in remaining true to both thinkers and examining them in their own historical-philosophical context. 'Releasement' thereby becomes the site for a wonderful encounter between two thinkers separated by seven centuries." — Textem

"Eckhart, Heidegger, and the Imperative of Releasement is a well-crafted, insightful book. It documents Heidegger's reading and use of Eckhart in extraordinary detail, and analyzes their interpretations of releasement with care and precision." — Medieval Mystical Theology

"At once an inquiry into both Heidegger and Eckhart, this assiduously researched, elegantly written, and largely compelling book deals with a number of (at times lesser known) texts of both authors in order to show the essential resonances of these two thinkers …this book is an essential and enjoyable read for anybody interested in Eckhart, Heidegger, or their 'relationship' to one another." — Review of Metaphysics

"Moore's book is an impressive achievement. Nobody can fail to learn from it or fail to appreciate the dedication and devotion that has enabled him to produce what is unquestionably an indispensable volume for anybody interested in Eckhart, late Heidegger, or the relation of so-called mysticism to philosophy more generally." — Robert Bernasconi, Pennsylvania State University