Augustine and Heidegger

This will be a short essay. There is a passage from the Confessions (XII)that helped me understand Heidegger’s ontology. It rests on this sentence from Genesis:

“The earth was invisible and formless, darkness was over the deep”

Augustine asks: How can there be nothing before creation? How can something come from nothing? A traditional interpretation would be that God created ex nihilo.. And this has often been commented upon as the innovation of the Christian system—the invention of the concept of invention/creation, of a time that begins and which progresses towards an end. But lets get back to the topic…

Augustine provides a unique solution to the problem. He says that before God’s creation the world, as the “darkness over the deep”, is in between nothing and something, a formless matter. There is some “thing” there, but that thing, given no form, has no ontology.

I think this is how one has to read Heidegger’s talk about revelation and disclosure, of bringing things into the clearing. Disclosure and revelation is precisely this giving of form to formless non-thing (a negation of existence that leaves a trace, rather than a complete negation of being). This, I think, also elucidates Heidegger’s focus of Phenomenon as “bringing to light”—isn’t the Platonic form just that sun which shines on all appearances?

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