The Acolytes of Being: A Definition of "Transcendence" in German History and Politics

ASU Author/Contributor (non-ASU co-authors, if there are any, appear on document)
Emily Long (Creator)
Appalachian State University (ASU )
Web Site:
Michael Behrent

Abstract: Acting as my Senior Honors Thesis in the departments of History, Political Science, and University Honors, this project, “The Acolyte of Being,” aims to present an aesthetic history of twentieth century German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s concept of “Da-sein:” the “thereness” of Being (or existence) itself. Taking into account 2,500 years of Western metaphysics, my thesis begins by redefining one key philosophical term: transcendence, and in so doing revive four others as well: truth, beauty, freedom and the term metaphysics itself. As such, this work begins with a “Definition of Transcendence,” informing the following five chapters. These chapters, in keeping with the historicity of Da-sein as an aesthetic one, each name great works of art, opening of the oblivions of Being to man. Each of my chapters follow the guiding definition of “Transcendence” and correspond as well to one of five Wagnerian operas: Das Rheingold, Die Walkyrie, Siegfried, Götterdämmerung and, finally, Parsifal. This operatic chapter structure is linked as well to my the naming of my “Acolytes of Being:” Friedrich Nietzsche and his The Birth of Tragedy out of the Spirit of Music, Richard Wagner and his concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk, T.S. Eliot and The Waste Land, and, finally, National Socialism—as an aesthetic, poetic politics. In constructing my argument in this manner, I am able to communicate that not only is history artistic, but that this aesthetic details the gradual return of metaphysics. With National Socialism acting as the final “Acolyte of Being,” the distinction between the ontic (things as they appear) and the ontological (things in themselves) is defaced and Being as such returns with force to the dwelling of man. With Heidegger himself offering up his ground breaking philosophy to the spiritual impetus of National Socialism we come before my chief question in this thesis: How did National Socialism pose the question of Being in the twentieth century? Certainly a troubling assertion we must also add: What can this mean?

Additional Information

Honors Project
Long, E. (2015). The Acolytes of Being: A Definition of "Transcendence" in German History and Politics. Unpublished honors thesis. Appalachian State University, Boone, NC.
Language: English
Date: 2015

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