The Apocalypse of Being: The Esoteric Gnosis of Martin Heidegger. Mario Enrique Sacchi. Translated by Gabriel Xavier Martinez. St. Augustine’s Press, 2002. 146 pp. $28.00. ISBN1-890318-04-3.
The philosophical thought about Being, as presented by Martin Heidegger in a plethora of profound, dense and confusing works, has been the source of much debate amongst philosophers. In this book Mario Enrique Sacchi sets out to take Heidegger’s doctrine of Being by the horns, and show it for what it is – an esoteric and pagan Gnosticism. We will first consider the purpose of the book, and then how the author went about attaining this purpose. We will finish with some thoughts about the relative use of the book.
The author explains that the purpose of this book is to “expose the consequences of his [Heidegger’s] rejection of the metaphysical understanding of being as such and of the act by which all the things that are exist.” The author states at the beginning that he assumes that the reader already has a working knowledge of Heidegger’s works. This assumption explains why the author does not take the time to attempt to give an exhaustive explanation of Heidegger’s works, or provide a great number of references.
In his preface to the English translation Sacchi discusses the words, in a number of different languages, which have been used to talk about being and the act of being. In the prologue the author explains why it is important to interact with Heidegger’s assault on metaphysics, in spite of the fact that Heidegger’s thought in anything but metaphysical.
Chapter 1 is roughly presented in two main sections. In the first section Sacchi reveals a thought, without noting the thinker that thought it, which claims to be philosophical, and about being (Sein), but which seeks to destroy Metaphysics. He reveals a number of inherent contradictions in this thought, and shows that this thought refuses the possibility that ‘being’ be found in the things that are. As such being can only be found, or discovered, in a revelation (apocalypse) of Being which is given to the chosen one. He then claims that this is the essence of Heidegger’s metaphysics. In the second section he outlines Heidegger’s philosophical evolution through three stages of thought, in light of the traditional understanding of Heidegger’s stages of thinking. He notes the influence of protestant agnosticism concerning metaphysics on Heidegger’s thought, and considers the question, “is Heidegger’s thought truly philosophical?” After having noted that many philosophers would claim that it is not, he notes that, in a sense, it is, but, in light of what philosophy is normally considered to be, Heidegger’s thought is truly anything but philosophical.
In chapter 2 Sacchi elaborates on Heidegger’s assault on traditional metaphysics. He begins by describing how Heidegger’s followers have uncritically accepted Heidegger’s critique of the History of Metaphysics, accepting Heidegger as the ultimate authority on this subject. He goes on to show that Heidegger’s attempts came to resemble a form of esoteric cultish Gnosticism. This is demonstrated through observations concerning his dependence on Kuhn, as well as Heidegger’s special form of paganism. He finishes by showing in what Heidegger’s critique of Metaphysics consists, and how it is contradictory.
In chapter 3 Sacchi discusses Heidegger’s portrayal, and rejection, of metaphysics as a form of onto-theology. We are shown that this rejection finds its source in Kant’s critiques of Metaphysics, in Hegel’s formulation of the logic of thought (such that Metaphysics came to be understood as the science of thought thinking itself), Heidegger’s false claims about the object and history of Metaphysics, and Heidegger’s dependence on Holderlin’s paganism.
In chapter 4 Sacchi sets out to show that Heidegger’s philosophy is truly a gnostic esoteric ‘revelation’ of being (this conclusion will be demonstrated in a number of different ways in the following chapters). He begins by noting what is implied in the notion that Sein is revealed in History, and shows the absurdity of such a notion. He then considers Heidegger’s notion of the ‘Revelation’ of Sein, and shows the difficulties latent in it. He finishes by comparing it to the Christian notion of revelation, showing that Heidegger’s is necessarily a pagan, gnostic, esoteric and hermetic view of revelation. We are reminded that that which is a revelation is most certainly not philosophy, though a revelation may inspire a philosophy.
In chapter 5 we examine and critique three principles of Heidegger’s thought: (1) that the act of being is not in the act of the things that are, (2) that we can think the essence of Sein as it is revealed in history, and (3) that all thinking of sein begins with a preconception of sein. The chapter begins with a critique of the claim that man is being-thrown-in-the-world, and a critique of Heidegger’s view of metaphysics.
In chapter 6 we are presented with a comparison between Heidegger’s confused and metaphorical thought on Sein and the apocalyptical literature of antiquity. The author brings out, through an interesting look at ttrue metaphysical deduction and its relation to knowledge of the ultimate uncaused cause, the fact that traditional metaphysics has nothing in common with apocalyptic literature, whereas Heidegger’s thought on sein bears all the tell-tale signs of the apocalyptic genre. Sacchi reminds us that Heidegger never tells us what Sein is, but, as with Mystical gnostic esoteric religions, he amazes us with metaphors, symbols and poetic imagery that mean little, if anything at all.
In chapter 7 Sacchi, upon observing that Heidegger’s sein is a product of thought thinking itself in abstraction from all else, proceeds to show that Heidegger’s emphasis on the Question, problem and the questionableness of being is misplaced. Rather, there is no question or problem of being except in the finite intellect. In conclusion, Heidegger’s confused emphasis on metaphor, symbol and the creative causality of language allows us to pass the final verdict that Heidegger’s philosophy is nothing more than a confused esoteric and pagan Gnosticism that rejects human reason and embraces pure monism.
The author concludes that “Heidegger’s thought about Sein reflects the abandonment of human reason for a poetic mysticism powerless to reach sapiential knowledge of the act of all acts and of the perfection of all perfections.”
This book provides a piercing look at Heidegger’s assault on Metaphysics and reason. He shows, that Heidegger’s philosophy, though it is ingenious, and the result of one of the greatest intellects of the 20th century, is no more than a form of esoteric Gnosticism. The arguments that are presented by Sacchi are profound, and cover the entire breadth of Heidegger’s works. The author demonstrates a deep knowledge not only of Heidegger’s works, but also of the arguments of both his most zealous disciples and his enemies. The major difficulty with this book is that a clear outline is not easily discernible in the chapters, and one must pay attention to follow the arguments of the author. However, a careful reading will pay off, and this is definitely a great book to read for anyone who is interested in Metaphysics, or Heidegger’s thought. However, in order to really understand what the author is arguing in this book one must have a working knowledge of Heidegger’s work, not just Sein und Zeit, but the work that followed the turning.