The Weight of Finitude

On the Philosophical Question of God

By Ludwig Heyde
Translated by Alexander Harmsen & William Desmond

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Hegelian Studies
Paperback : 9780791442661, 177 pages, August 1999
Hardcover : 9780791442654, 177 pages, August 1999

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Table of contents

By William Desmond



The Absence of the Essential

1.1 An Essenceless World


The Reversal of Positions
The Dominion of Wealth
Comedy and Cynicism


1.2 The Protest of Faith


Faith as Flight
The Essencelessness of Faith


1.3 The "Retrieval" of the Essential. The Struggle of the Enlightenment


God's Disappearance
The Unsatisfied Enlightenment


1.4 A One-Dimensional World and a Distant God

Ways of Thinking toward God

2.1 Faith and Thought


The Experience of Thought


2.2 Enigmatic Contingency


Why Something at All . . . ?
An Informational Intermezzo: Concerning Proofs of God
An Example: Thomas Aquinas
A Necessary Ground for All That Is
The Decisive Presupposition


2.3 The Actuality of Thought


Anselm. Thought and Being
Descartes. Subjectivity and Infinitude
God as Ground and Measure


2.4 The Experience of Limits and Openness

An Abyss for Thought

3.1 The Limits of Thought


The Decisive Point: Thought and Being
The Well-Ordered Cosmos


3.2 The Scope of the Critique


It Concerns the Entirety of Philosophy
The Ideal of Pure Reason
The Positive Turn


3.3 Kant's Way: The Absoluteness of the Ought


The Indisputable Moral "Fact"
The Postulate of God's Existence


3.4 The Limits of the Limits


Critique of the Critique
The Metaphysical Élan


Auschwitz: The End of an Illusion?

4.1 The Mystery of Evil


Beyond Any Concept?
The Sting of Moral Evil


4.2 The Mystery of Freedom


The Refusal of Adorno
Kant: Evil and Freedom


4.3 The Rose and the Cross


God and Evil
Evil Is Not Absolute


Human Finitude and the Presence of God

5.1 Finitude as Boundary


Heidegger: The Desacralisation of the World
The Metaphysics of Subjectivity
Thinking Does Not Merely "Happen" to Us


5.2 The Mystery of God's Presence


The Death of God
Nietzsche as Child of His Time
Hegel: The Absolute Is Present
Finite Transcendence?
Philosophy's Claim to Truth



Cited Literature

About the Author


Suggests that a full acceptance of the finitude of existence can lead to the affirmation of God.


Ludwig Heyde's award winning examination of the weight of finitude and its relation to God is translated here for the first time in English. Though philosophers may question if there still is room for God in philosophy after Nietzsche's pronouncement that "God is dead," Heyde suggests that a full acceptance of the finitude of existence can lead to the affirmation of God. He criticizes conceptions that have unconsciously dominated our thinking since the Enlightenment. In relation to the philosophical tradition—Thomas Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Kant, and primarily Hegel, among others—certain "experiences" are developed which thought can undergo when it goes to its limits and asks after the ground of all that is. At the same time, Heyde investigates how well the affirmation of God stands up against various intellectual and existential challenges such as Kant's critique, the experience of evil and suffering, and the thought of Heidegger and Nietzsche.

Ludwig Heyde is Professor of Philosophy and Head of the Chair of Metaphysics at the Catholic University of Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He is the recipient of the 1997 Prix Cardinal Mercier for The Weight of Finitude and the author and editor of numerous books, including De verwerkelijking van de vrijheid and Filosofie en democratie. At the Higher Institute of Philosophy, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Louvain), Belgium, Alexander Harmsen is a doctoral candidate and William Desmond is Director. Harmsen is a sessional lecturer at the University of British Columbia. Desmond is the author of several books published by SUNY Press, including the award winning Being and the Between.


"It is a boon to have this work now available in English, and not only for Hegel scholars or philosophers interested in classical and contemporary responses to God, but for mindful human beings still wondering if we have wings." — from the Foreword by William Desmond