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Meaning of Onto-Theology Explained

Phenomenology and Existentialism

Onto-theology is a term coined by Emmanuel Kant to designate theology as a metaphysics which exists independently of all experience. For Kant onto-theology is supposed to be a form of transcendental theology that does not understand God as part of human experiences, but rather relates to him through transcendental concepts and thinking.

While for Kant this term designates a speculative deduction of God based on his conception, Martin Heidegger saw onto-theology as the internal law of being and the origin of metaphysics. Heidegger uses this term to describe traditional metaphysics in terms of how it thinks of the highest being. The idea that a generally higher being or essence – be it God, the substance in Spinoza, the absolute in Hegel etc. – is necessary as a guarantor for the order of the world is referred to by Heidegger as an ontotheological form of metaphysics .


Definition of ontho-theology

Kant defines onto-theology as this transcendental rational theology which believes that it knows the existence of the original being by simple concepts, without recourse to experience.

With Heidegger, onto-theology becomes the observation of a structural duality of metaphysics. He argues that throughout the history of Western metaphysics being is understood as god’s primary trait. Any question relating to the meaning of the word being immediately branches off towards the exposition of this duality. Forsaking the ontological reliance on theology is a way for phenomenology to go back to existence itself. 


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