You are on page 1of 8



Robert S. Gall
Blaise Pascal famously distinguished be-
tween the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob
(and of Christians) and the God of the philoso-
phers. The first is the God of the religious be-
liever, the personal, loving God (of whatever
religious tradition) that offers hope of salva-
tion to the believer and fear of punishment and
damnation to the nonbeliever. The second re-
fers to all those abstract ultimate realities
that have accumulated throughout the history
of Western philosophy that complete some
comprehensive, intellectual view of all that is
(and has been or will be). To this distinction we
also might add another sort of God, what Rich-
ard Rorty called the God of the theologians,
the sort of God that results from running to-
gether the needs of religious believers with the
needs of the philosophers by changing the la-
bel of the latest philosophical costume.
specifically had in mind Paul Tillichs theolog-
ical knockoff of Heideggers Sein and Mark
Taylors appropriation of Derridas diffrance,
but his label would include everything from
Philos use of Plotinus and Aquinass use of
Aristotle to process theologys reinterpretation
of Whitehead, to recent efforts by philoso-
phers working in the Continental tradition to
reconcile postmodernism with Biblical
These distinctions, however, overlook a
more original, more primordial sense of what
is divine: the god of the thinker. The early
Greeks named this understanding of divinity
daimo\n (ooimv), a naming which is heard at
the crossroads between philosophy and reli-
gion, between earlier and later Greek thinking,
in Socrates talk of what inspires and drives
him. Interestingly, the twentieth century phi-
losopher Martin Heidegger wrestles with the
meaning of daimo\n in his interpretations of
Plato, Aristotle, and early Greek thinkers, hint-
ing at his own understanding of what is divine
named in the last god (der letzte Gott). This
is the field I want to survey in this paper: what
are the meanings of daimo\n and the last god,
and how do they name the god of the thinker.
We begin with Socrates, the paradigmatic
thinker of Western philosophy. In the course of
his trial, Socrates notes that:
I am subject to something divine (daimonion;
ooioviov), which Meletus sawfit to travesty in
his indictment. It began in my early child-
hooda sort of voice which comes to me, and
when it comes it always dissuades me from
what I am proposing to do, and never urges me
on. (Plato, Apology, 31c-d)
Socrates daimonion apparently was well
known; both Plato and Xenophon note or have
Socrates refer to his daimonion a number of
times. In addition, as Socrates observes here,
his daimonion is part of what is at issue in his
indictment; all the sources note that Socrates
was charged with introducing or bringing in
strange daimonia (ooiovio oivo).
rates daimonion was clearly important to who
he was and to what he was charged with being.
As a first reading, the noncommital transla-
tion of daimonion as something divine
seems most appropriate. On the one hand,
many of the earliest Greek writers (e.g.,
Homer, Pindar, the Greek tragedians) use the
termdaimo\n in conjunction with theos (0ro),
such as in the stock ending for Euripides
Many forms are there of the divine (daimo\nion;
ooiovimv). Many things the gods (theoi; 0roi)
accomplish unexpectedly. What we waited for
does not come to pass, while for what remained
undreamed the god (theos; 0ro) finds ways.
Just such doing was this doing.
The two termsdaimo\ni and theosare and
are not exactly interchangeable. Lacking an
image or a cult, ooimv often indicates a
strange sort of activity or power rather than a
class of beings. In that sense, daimo\n is similar
to o theos (o 0ro), which means god or the
god in a generic sense, not the particular and
individual gods of the Greek pantheon. Nam-
ing a force that drives man forward where no
agent can be named, one way to understand
daimo\n then is as the veiled countenance of
divine activity that is invoked when the event
or action eludes characterization and naming.
This seems to be exactly the way to describe
what is going on with Socrates. As James
Beckman has put it, Socrates description of
the ooioviov reveals nothing about any god
or ooimv precisely because no such thing is
revealed to him. . . . The ambiguity of the refer-
ence to the ooioviov is the measure of its pre-
ciseness as a description (Beckman 77). By
citing the daimonion, Socrates acknowledges
that some force or power is at work in and
through him but about which he can say little
This initial reading of daimo\n is deepened
and complicated when we recall the famous
fragment from Heraclitus (DK 119): hthos
anthropoi daimon (p0o ov0mam ooimv)
Ones character is ones daimo\n or ones
daimo\n is ones character. Here daimo\n is
sometimes translated as fate or destiny in
keeping with the apparent root meaning and
the way the ancient Greeks spoke of a life of
good or bad fortune.
Though Charles Kahn
says in his commentary on this fragment that
it is a mans own character, not some external
power, that assigns to him the quality of his
life (261), it is not that simple. It is important
that we hear the double sense of the Heraclitus
fragment: ones character is ones daimo\n/
ones daimo\n is ones character. For the an-
cient Greeks your character is given to you
in some sense; who you are is not completely
within your control. Your actions reveal
your character but are also something given
to you, something sent by something divine.
Prime examples of this can be found in Greek
tragedy, in which key characters continually
are identified with a god or divine force. A
characters emotions are attributed to some-
thing divine, some god, some daimo\n, espe-
cially in cases where the character suffers
some dislocation, some blindness (ate\; otp)
or raving (madness) (lussa; uooo).
haps the best example of this human/inhuman
coupling is Oedipus in Oedipus Tyrranos.
There, in the final choral ode, noting and la-
menting the paradigmatic character of
Oedipus, the chorus points out how his life is
fused with the daimona (1194).
Later, after he
has gouged out his eyes, the chorus asks him
what daimono\n (ooiovmv) urged him, to
which he gives the equivocal reply: It was
Apollo, friends, Apollo,/ that brought this bit-
ter bitterness, my sorrows to completion./But
the hand that struck me/was none but my own
Oedipus doubles for the god, as
do so many of the tragic heroes, in the ambigu-
ous way indicated by Heraclitus fragment.
This likewise seems to be the point of Socrates
acknowledgment of his daimonion. It marks
a puzzling site in his experience that is both
inside and outside of who he is and what
he does. What we today would reduce to some
sort of natural psychological process (a
hunch or intuition, i.e., something tells
me such and such), it is nonetheless some-
thing more to Socrates; he treats it in a down-
to-earth, matter-of-fact manner but at the same
time acknowledges it to be something be-
yond himself and his ordinary consciousness
of and thought about the world.
The characterization of the divine as
daimo\n is given further depth through Martin
Heideggers treatment of the saying from
Heraclitus. Finding the usual translation more
modern than Greek, he offers an alternative
translation in his Letter on Humanism: man
dwells, insofar as he is man, in the nearness of
the god.
He finds this translation confirmed
in a story about Heraclitus told by Aristotle in
which Heraclitus assures some visitors that the
gods show themselves in his kitchen.
Heideggers point is that, according to Hera-
clitus, what is divine shows itself even in an or-
dinary, familiar [geheuer] place such as that
kitchen. Thus he follows with a second transla-
tion: The (familiar [geheure]) abode is for hu-
man beings the open region for the presencing
of the god (the un-familiar one [des Un-
geheuren]) (GA 9, 187; Path, 270). Now
Heidegger translates daimon as the un-famil-
iar one or the uncanny, recalling a discus-
sion Heidegger had of daimo\n in his
Parmenides course a few years earlier. There
Heideggers clarification of daimo\n starts by
way Aristotles use of daimonia in the
Nicomachean Ethics as an all-encompassing
word for what is excessive, astounding, and
Thus, Heidegger chooses to trans-
late to daimonion as das Un-geheur. It is a
somewhat old-fashioned term he borrows
from Hlderlins translation of a choral ode in
Antigone (33275) that calls human beings to
deinon (to orivov), the strangest.
ing monster or the monstrous (das
Ungeheuere), Heidegger makes it clear in
those lectures that Un-geheur means the un-
canny, the unfamiliar, or the extraordi-
nary. Daimo\n is the uncanny because it pres-
ents itself in everything ordinaryand is
hence the most naturalwithout being the or-
dinary. With the ancient Greeks, the daemonic
appears not only through elements inside the
self (the passions, the blood) as noted above,
but also outside the selfthrough wind,
rain, fire, animals. Socrates himself makes a
point of this in Xenophons Apology (1213),
noting that people take the sounds of birds to
be omens from the gods. Continuing to elabo-
rate on daimo\n, Heidegger notes its relation to
daio\ (ooim), which Heidegger translates as to
present oneself in the sense of pointing and
showing (GA 54, 151; P, 102). This sense of
pointing or showing relates to a significant
characteristic of the Greek gods: they give
signs and point (GA 54, 59; P, 40). Heraclitus
noted this as well (DK 93): The Lord whose
oracle is in Delphi [the god Apollo] neither
speaks nor conceals but hints [winkt] (o ovo,
ou to ovtriov roti to rv Aroi, outr
ryri outr uatri oo opoivri ).
tes knew this, which is why he was wise to
question the oracle at Delphi (Apology 21b)
rather than simply accept the answer of the or-
acle. In this way, recognizing and acknowledg-
ing what is divine, listening to something di-
vine, he acknowledged something strange
and uncanny, what is questionable and ques-
tion worthywhat calls for thinking. The as-
tonishing being of the ordinarywhat is
strange and uncannytakes name and figure
and place in the work, as the god. The god is an
indication, a sign, a hint, of howthings are and
who we are. As a result, daimonion points to
being; daimo\n (and its cognates that acknowl-
edge the gods or divinity) indicates invisi-
ble and ungraspable being itself, whereby
what is divine is manifest in the abyssal space
of being itself. Such, according to Heidegger,
is the fundamental Greek experience of what is
What Heideggers interpretations of
daimo\n show is that the word is a recognition
of something divine, overwhelming, unsur-
passable, which emerges in, through, and from
our actions and refuses our control. In that way
the ancient Greeks came to know and find
themselves dwelling in the neighborhood of
the uncanny and strange. What was meaning-
ful and significant was not seen beyond this
world, beyond the things in the world and the
things that take place in the world, but in them-
selves and things themselves. The gods then
are not objects of speculation or a theology but
indications of the awesome forces and powers
active in the world in and around us that reveal
the significance of things. What is divine is in-
comprehensible not because it so utterly tran-
scends us or is so esoteric by nature that we
cannot understand it, but because it is so close,
so near, so simple, so ordinary, and so spe-
cific to particular events and activities.
These senses of daimo\n that we have been
discussingas something that is given, a des-
tiny that is bound up with who one is and how
one acts, as the uncanny that calls into ques-
tion, showing us as we are and what is signifi-
cantare connected to Socrates other signifi-
cant mention of divinity in the Apology,
namely, his explanation of his mission to
philosophize (Apology 20e ff.). The story is
well known: Socrates reports that his friend
Chaerephon went to Delphi and asked the
god (o theos) whether there was anyone wiser
than Socrates, to which the priestess simply
answered no.
Note here that Socrates (and
throughout much of the Apology) uses the ge-
neric the god and never refers to any particu-
lar god in which the city believes (though he
slyly leaves the jury to assume that he is talking
about Apollo by talking about the god at
Delphi [Apology 20e]). The god did not
give him any directions, just as Socrates
daimonion never urges himon. Instead, the or-
acles answer strikes Socrates as strange, un-
canny, extraordinary, since he claims no spe-
cial knowledge for himself. Thus he questions
the meaning of the answer given Chaerephon.
What results is his interpretation of the ocular
saying: that his questioning of others is done at
the gods command and that he acts in ser-
vice to the god such that the god has ap-
pointed himor given hima mission to act as he
doesto question. The god leads him to
questioning, even to questioning the god
(Apology 21c). Thus he refuses to give up his
destiny, saying that this duty I have accepted,
as I said, in obedience to the gods commands
given in oracles and dreams and in every other
way that any divine dispensation has ever im-
pressed a duty upon man.
Socrates is not
willing to stop his questioning, his inquiries,
because that would be impious; it would go
against who he has been given to beby the
god, by his daimonion. His daimonion de-
fines who he is by pointing to what is strange,
what is uncanny, what is worthy of thought.
To the philosopher and the religious be-
liever, Socratesjustification of himself and his
daimonion make little sense. As James S. Hans
puts it, not only does it seem implausible, his
justification contradicts itself: he is paying
great fealty to the gods throughout his life by
trying to cast doubt on their oracles.
By the
standards of philosophical and religious
thoughtwhich seek justified beliefsSoc-
rates is impious because he asks questions. Yet
this is only impious and contradictory if we
take Socrates to be expressing beliefs that do
or do not conform to some sort of philosophi-
cal or theological orthodoxy. But Socrates
does not express belief in the gods (of the city)
anywhere in the Apology. He does proclaimhis
piety, though, because piety for him comes
fromacknowledging that the god wants ev-
erybody every day to be questioning: examin-
ing and re-examining the values by which their
life is led.
While daimo\n and the Greek gods are no
more, it is within the context of such an under-
standing of divinity that we should hear
Heideggers own talk of what is divinetalk
that shifts in ways that seem, like the term
daimo\n, designed to avoid assertions about
what is divine while at the same time acknowl-
edging something divine. On the one hand,
he notes the daemonic references to divinity in
predecessors such as Hlderlin and Nietzsche,
then appropriates them in his own thinking.
For instance, Hlderlins remembrance of the
ancient Greeks and their gods inspires
Heideggers talk of gods or divinities (in
keeping with there being many forms of
daimonio\n, as Euripides said), the beckoning
(winkenden) messengers of what is divine
that are revealed (though in some sense hid-
den) in and through things. Likewise, in the
essay . . . Poetically Man Dwells . . . ,
Heidegger elaborates on Hlderlins un-
known god, which is revealed by the sky and
pervades what is intimate to human beings. It
thereby serves as a measure by which human
beings dwell on the earth, though it remains a
stranger (Fremde) even as it emerges in and
through things and events.
Such references
have and continue to provoke thought, puz-
zling philosophers and theologians alike who
are accustomed to the Western tradition and its
(philosophical or religious) monotheism.
Nietzsche too echoes the daemonic with his
word God is dead. When the madmanone
without the sense of othersproclaims this in
The Gay Science (section 125), it elicits ques-
tioningfirst, the sarcastic questioning of
atheists but then the more original questioning
of the madman himself:
Whither is God? he cried; I will tell you. We
have killed him you and I. All of us are his
murders. But howdid we do this? Howcould we
drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to
wipe away the entire horizon? What were we
doing when we unchained this earth from its
sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we
moving? Away from all suns? Are we not
plunging continually? Backward, sideward,
forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or
down? Are we not straying as through an infi-
nite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty
space? Has it not become colder? Is not night
continually closing in on us? Do we not need to
light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear noth-
ing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who
are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of
the divine decomposition? . . . How shall we
comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murder-
ers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that
the world has yet owned has bled to death under
our knives: who will wipe this blood off us?
What water is there for us to clean ourselves?
What festivals of atonement, what sacred
games shall we have to invent? Is not the great-
ness of this deed too great for us? Must we our-
selves not become gods simply to appear wor-
thy of it?
There are no answers from the listeners, who
stare at the madman in astonishment. We are
left with the questions. Later, echoing the
mourning that Heidegger has noted in
Hlderlin, the madman strikes up his requiem
aeternam deo in several churches, acknowl-
edging them as the tombs and sepulchers of
God. God has passed away, leaving usif we
thinkwith questions about ourselves and
seeking what is divine.
This especially is the case where Heidegger
speaks elusively of the last god (der letzte
Gott)more specifically, the passing by
(Vorbeigang) of the last god.
This perhaps
is Heideggers most riddling naming of what is
divine. On the one hand, it means the ultimate
God and thereby echoes Hlderlin and Nietz-
sche: the passing by of the ultimate God marks
the transition in which we find ourselves, in
which all the philosophical and religious ulti-
mates (including the Christian God), all the
gods that have been, have passed by, with no
new god or gods yet revealing themselves. On
the other hand, echoing both Nietzsches Twi-
light of the Idols and Hegels observation that
the owl of Minerva flies at dusk, Heideggers
reference to the passing by of the last god
seems to indicate that only in the transition
from the last godwhichever god has been
to an unknown future god, gods or lack of gods
do we catch a glimpse of the essence of divin-
ity (Gottwesen). Only now do we have a sense
of something divine. Thus Heidegger says in
the Der Spiegel interview that:
Only a god can save us. The only possibility
available to us is that by thinking and compos-
ing (dichten) we prepare a readiness for the ap-
pearance of a god, or for the absence of a god in
our going-down, for in the face of the godwhois
absent, we go-down.
The going-down here is a coming back
down to earth from the speculative heights of
traditional philosophy to abide in who we are.
The salvation of which Heidegger speaks,
then, is a matter of becoming who we are.
become who we are we need a measure, a god,
something divinewhich can even be an ab-
sence of god. This then is another meaning of
the last god: last as end, as goal, as an es-
sential indicator (a hint or sign) of human be-
ing. That is Da-sein, being t/here, the being
for whom its being is an issue, the being that
asks the meaning of being (GA 65, 40708,
409, 413; CP 28687, 288, 291).
Here, now, is the heart of the matter. Poeti-
cally naming daimo\n in conjunction with its
heroes, Greek tragedy showed human beings
and their actions not as things that can be de-
fined or described, but as problems, resulting
in a questioning to which there can be no [fi-
nal] answers.
Socrates thoughtfully echoed
and acknowledged the question and question-
ing that we are by acknowledging his
daimonion and the mission he had been given
by the god. Heidegger, thoughtfully respond-
ing to the Greeks, to Hlderlin, to Nietzsches
madman, speaks of the gods and the last god.
All agree: the measure given by daimo\n, by the
uncanny, by the last god, is questioning.
Questioning, because it violates the familiar
understanding of things and ourselves,
makes things strange, makes us strange
(who was and remains stranger than Socra-
tes?). As Sophocles says, echoing Heraclitus:
There is much that is strange, but nothing/
that surpasses man in strangeness (Antigone
33233). Human beings are the strangest
among many strange things because in their
(ordinary) deeds and activities they are cast out
of the familiar. However, by violating those fa-
miliar limits, human beings show what is es-
sential to who they are (see GA 40, 158ff.; IM
148ff.; GA 53, 63ff.; HHI 51ff.). In question-
ing we become who we are, open to possibili-
ties, open to the mysteries of the world and
ourselves. To stop questioning, to lead an un-
examined life, is to lead a life not worth liv-
ingbecause it is no longer a meaningful life,
the life of a human being. Questioning is the
piety of thinking (GA 7, 36; QCT 35) because
it is a submission and response to the god
the god as daimo\n, what is uncanny, the
last godand the strangeness indicated by
the god.
The god of the thinker then is not the God of
the philosophers. Philosophy speaks of god
onto-theo-logicallyas the most universal or
the highest being/the first causeand that re-
duces what is divine (and ourselves) to an an-
swer, to some thing that can be calculated.
Likewise the daimo\n/the last god then is not a
sense of God which is distinctly powerful,
monotheistic, and devoted, as one commenta-
tor recently has put it.
This too is a calculat-
ing determination of what is divine, a calcula-
tion which Heidegger repeatedly undermines
in his frequent reference to the gods. All
theisms collapse before the hinting of the gods
and the last god; the multitude of gods cannot
be quantified.
However, even though the originary, essen-
tial thinking initiated here by the daimo\n/the
last god seems like a faith compared to the
knowing of philosophy (GA 65, 369; CP
258), the god of the thinker also is not the God
of the faithful. This can be seen in Socratesin-
dictment; his daimonion is strange and dan-
gerous to religious orthodoxy. That danger is
apparent in Platos Euthyphro, in which Socra-
tes raises questions that undermine (or should
undermi ne) t he confi dence and fai t h
Euthyphro has that he is doing what the gods
want. With his famous questionIs what is
holy holy because the gods approve it, or do
they approve it because it is holy? (Euthyphro
10)Socrates shows us that a more funda-
mental thinking is called for than any attitude
of faith. Thus, as Heidegger notes, the original
experience of what is divine does not come
from within religion; the daimo\n, the last
god, do not appear through faith or personal,
lived experiences, churches or cults.
Nor is the god of the thinker the God of the
theologians, or the philosopher-theologians, in
our midst today who latch onto Heideggers
critique of the god of philosophy as prepara-
tion for some other kind of theology or authen-
tic religion. Richard Kearney speaks of The
God Who May Be, a God of possibilities, but
his God is a God of limited possibilities be-
cause it is a God of hope. As Heidegger notes,
all eschatology lives out of a faith in the cer-
tainty of a newstate of affairs (GA66, 245; M
216). That is not the daimo\n or the last god,
which also acknowledge divine possibility, but
a divine possibility that is not some expedient
of human beings; the daimo\n/the last god con-
founds our expectations, does not fulfill our
hopes, and grants us what remained un-
dreamed (as Euripides told us). Again, what is
divine cannot be calculated.
Despised by philosophers and the faithful
(such that it eventually becomes an evil
spiritor demon as early as Platos later writ-
ing), the god of the thinker is the daimo\n, the
uncanny, the last god, that calls for question-
ing, whereby we are true to ourselves as think-
ersand as human beings. It is despised be-
cause it yields what is a god-less thinking
(GA11, 77; ID72) to both philosophy and reli-
gion yet is closer to what is divine than either
reason or faith. This essential thinking is a
faith in doubt, where the faith of philoso-
phy, religion, and theologians is in doubt, in
question, even as it shows faith in questioning,
in inquiry, in asking the meaning of being.
Faith in doubt reveals, and is revealed by, the
daimo\n, the last god.
1. Ri chard Rort y, Comment s on Tayl ors
Paralectics, in On the Other: Dialogue and/or Di-
alectics, ed. Robert P. Scharlemann (Lanham, MD:
University Press of America, 1991), 71ff.
2. I am thinking herethe work of such philosopher-
theologians such as Richard Kearney, The God Who
May Be. AHermeneutics of Religion (Bloomington:
Indiana University Press, 2001); Jean-Luc Marion,
God Without Being, trans. Thomas A. Carlson (Chi-
cago: University of Chicago Press, 1991); and, of
course, Emmanuel Levinas, Of God Who Comes to
Mind, trans. Bettina Bergo (Stanford: Stanford Uni-
versity Press, 1998).
3. The translation (slightly altered) is from Plato: The
Collected Dialogues, ed. Edith Hamilton and Hun-
tington Cairns (Princeton: Princeton University
Press, 1961).
4. For references to Socrates daimonion, see, e.g.,
Xenophon, Apology 4, 1314, Memorabilia
1.1.2ff., 4.8.1ff.; Plato, Apology 31d, 40a,
Euthyphro 3a-b, Phaedrus 242b-c, Republic 6.496c.
Regarding the indictment, see Plato, Apology 27c-e
and Euthyphro 3b (where Euthyphro suggests that
the indictment involves Socrates daimonion);
Xenophon, Apology 10 and Memorabilia 1.1; Diog-
enes Laertius, Lives of the Famous Philosophers
2.40. Thomas C. Brickhouse and Nicholas D. Smith,
The Philosophy of Socrates (Boulder, CO: Westview
Press, 2000), 236f., argue that religious consider-
ationsrather than political considerationsseem
to have played a large part in Socrates indictment
(though they attribute views to Socrates that appear
more Platonic than we will be argue below). In his
discussion of the Apology, James Beckman also
takes the indictment (and Socrates defense against
the indictment) to be about religious beliefs and
practices; see The Religious Dimension of Socrates
Thought (Waterloo, Ontario: Canadian Corporation
for Studies in Religion/Wilfrid Laurier University
Press, 1979), 54ff.
5. Euripides, The Bacchae of Euripides, trans. C. K.
Williams (New York: The Noonday Press, 1990),
6. Walter Burkert, Greek Religion, trans. John Raffan
(Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1985),
7. Based upon interpreting the root ooi- as indicating
one who distributes or assigns a portion; see
Charles H. Kahn, The Art and Thought of Heraclitus
(New York: Cambridge University Press, 1979),
261. However, Burkert, Greek Religion, 420n3,
while acknowledging the common interpretation of
the root ooi - as apportioner, notes some ambigu-
ity, given that ooim means to divide.
8. E.g., in Aeschylus Seven Against Thebes, Eteocles
and Polynieces kill each other ooiovmvtr rv
otoipossessed by spirits of blindness (1001)
(Seven Against Thebes, trans. Anthony Hecht and
Helen H. Bacon [New York: Oxford University
Press, 1973], 64)while, in EuripidesThe Phoeni-
cian Women, Teiresias tells Creon that it would be
best if no one from Oedipus house lived in Thebes
since the gods hound them on (ooiovmvto) to
spoil the state (888) (The Complete Greek Trage-
dies, volume IV, ed. by David Grene and Richmond
Lattimore [Chicago: The University of Chicago
Press, 1992], 494). A fragment from Euripides
noted by Ruth Padel says: When daimo\n prepares
evils for a man/he first harms the nous [mind]/of the
man whomhe advises. This fragment fromEuripi-
des seems to be the originof the Latin phrase Quem
deus vult perdere, dementat prius (Whom God
wishes to destroy, He first makes mad); see Whom
the Gods Destroy. Elements of Greek and Tragic
Madness (Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1995), 34.
9. This is how Stephen Berg and Diskin Clay translate
the reference to daimona; see Oedipus the King
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1978), 78.
Robert Fagles translates daimona as destiny (The
Three Theban Plays [New York: Viking Penguin,
1983], 233); in The Complete Greek Tragedies, vol-
ume II, 64, David Grene translates daimona as
10. This is the Chicago translation, which translates
daimono\n as spirit. Robert Fagles translation for
daimono\n is superhuman power, while the Berg-
Clay translation is demon.
11. Martin Heidegger, Wegmarken, Gesamtausgabe
Band 9 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1976), 185 (here-
after GA9); Pathmarks, ed. WilliamMcNeill (Cam-
bridge: Cambridge University Press, 1998),
269 (hereafter Path).
12. In Aristotles Parts of Animals I.5.645a, 17: The
story is told of something Heraclitus said to some
strangers who wanted to come visit him. Having ar-
rived, they saw him warming himself at a stove.
Surprised, they stood there in consternationabove
all because he encouraged them, the astounded ones,
and called for them to come in with the words, for
here too the gods come to presence [wesen an];
GA 9, 185; Pathmarks, 26970 (translation slightly
altered). The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. Jona-
than Barnes, volume 1 (Princeton: PrincetonUniver-
sity Press, 1984), 1004, translates the passage as fol-
lows: and as Heraclitus, when the strangers who
came to visit him found him warming himself at the
furnace in the kitchen and hesitated to go in, is re-
ported to have bidden them not to be afraid to enter,
as even in that kitchen divinities were present. Aris-
totle uses the story to argue for investigating every-
thing in nature, even the humbler animals.
13. VI. 7, 1141b: It is saidthat they (the thinkers) indeed
know things that are excessive, and thus astounding,
and thereby difficult, and hence in general demonic
but also useless, for they are not seeking what is,
according to straightforward popular opinion, good
for man. Mart i n Hei degger, Parmeni des,
Gesamtausgabe Band 54 (Frankfurt: Klostermann,
1982), 148f (hereafter GA 54); Parmenides, trans.
Andr Schuwer and Ri chard Roj cewi cz
(Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992),
100ff. (hereafter P). Cf. the translation in The Com-
plete Works of Aristotle, volume 2, 1802: we say
that they know things that are remarkable, admira-
ble, difficult, and divine, but useless, viz. because it
is not human goods that they seek.
14. See Martin Heidegger, Hlderlins Hymne Der
Ister, Gesamtausgabe Band 53 (Frankfurt:
Klostermann, 1984), 83ff (hereafter GA 53);
Hlderlins Hymn The Ister, trans. William
McNeill and Julia Davis (Bloomington: Indiana Uni-
versity Press, 1996), 68ff (hereafter HHI). Note that
Heidegger prefers to translate to deinon (to orivov)
as das Unheimliche; see GA 53, 88; Hlderlins
Hymn, 71 and, most famously, Einfhrung in die
Metaphysik, Gesamtausgabe Band 40 (Frankfurt:
Klostermann, 1983), 153ff. (hereafter GA 40); An
Introduction to Metaphysics, trans. Ralph
Mannheim (New Haven: Yale University Press,
1959), 150ff. (hereafter IM).
15. Der Herr, dessen Spruchort zu Delphi is [Gott
Apollo], sagt weder, noch verbirgt er, sondern
winkt; Hlderlins Hymnen Germanien und Der
Rhei n, Gesamt ausgabe 39 (Frankfurt :
Klostermann, 1989), 127 (hereafter GA 39). Kahn
translates: The lord whose oracle is in Delphi nei-
ther declares nor conceals but gives a sign (43).
Robinson translates: The lord whose oracle is in
Delphi neither indicates clearly nor conceals but
gives a sign (57).
West Liberty State College, West Liberty, WV 26074
16. This is a summary of a complex discussion of the
Greek gods that Heidegger gives in GA 54, 147-
168; Parmenides, 99113.
17. Xenophons account is rather different. In his Apol-
ogy, 14, he reports that Socrates said: Come now,
hear other things as well, so that those of you who
wish may disbelieve still more that I have been hon-
ored by daimones: once, when Chaerephon asked in
Delphi in the presence of many, Apollo responded
that no human being was more free, more just, or
more moderate than I. The Shorter Socratic Writ-
ings, trans. and ed. by Robert C. Bartlett (Ithaca,
NY: Cornell University Press, 1996), 12. Here then
there is a more explicit linking of Socrates
daimonion to the god (understood as Apollo), but
Xenophons Socrates does not talk of a mission or
duty to the god.
18. Plato, Apology 33c (translation slightly altered).
Other references by Socrates to the gods com-
mand and his obedience to the god may be found
at Apology 22a, 23b-c, 28e-29a, 29d, 30a, 30e-31b.
19. James S. Hans, Socrates and the Irrational (Char-
lottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2006), 55.
20. M. F. Burnyeat, The Impiety of Socrates, Ancient
Philosophy 17 (1997): 5.
21. Note that the references to gods or divinities in
Heideggers work goes back at least as far as the
1930s and his Beitrge zur Philosophie,
Gesamtausgabe Band 65 (Frankfurt: Kloster-
mann,), e.g., 24244, 31011, 50809 (hereafter
GA 65); Contributions to Philosophy, trans. Parvis
Emad and Kenneth Maly (Bloomington: Indiana
University Press, 1999), e.g., 172, 21819,
35758 (hereafter CP). Later acknowledgment of
the god and gods can be found in essays such as
Building Thinking Dwelling, The Thing, and .
. . Poetically Man Dwells . . . in Vortrge und
Aufstze, Gesamtausgabe Band 7 (Frankfurt:
Klostermann, 2000), 14764, 16787. 191208;
Poetry, Language, Thought, trans. Albert
Hofstadter (New York: Harper and Row, 1971),
14561, 16586, 21329 (hereafter PLT). For refer-
ences to the gods as beckoning messengers of di-
vinity or the holy, see, e.g., GA 7, 151, 180; Poetry,
Language, Thought, 150, 178.
22. Friedrich Nietzsche, The Gay Science, trans. Walter
Kaufmann (New York: Vintage/Random House,
1974), 181.
23. Heideggers essay Nietzsches Word: God is
Dead, in Holzwege, Gesamtausgabe Band
5 (Frankfurt: Klostermann, 1977), 20967; Off the
Beaten Track, ed. and trans. Julian Young and Ken-
neth Hayes (Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 2002), 157199, largely focuses on how
Nietzsche and others do not stay with the questions
and the search but give answers (e.g., the Will to
Power, progress, technology).
24. GA 65, 407; Contributions to Philosophy, 287.
Heidegger also speaks of der letzte Gott in
Besinnung, Gesamtausgabe Band 66 (Frankfurt:
Klostermann, 1996), e.g., 253, 255; Mindfulness,
trans. Parvis Emad and Thomas Kalary (New York:
Continuum, 2006), e.g., 223, 225 (hereafter M).
25. Only a God Can Save Us: The Spiegel Interview,
trans. WilliamJ. Richardson, in Heidegger: The Man
and the Thinker, ed. Thomas Sheehan (Chicago: Pre-
cedent, 1981), 57 (translation slightly altered). The
absence of the god, Heidegger says later in the inter-
view, is not nothing, but a liberation of man from
what in Being and Time I call fallenness upon be-
ings (58), i.e., an everyday, unquestioning absorp-
tion in beings.
26. The theme of the Untergang recalls both Greek trag-
edy and Nietzsches Zarathustra; see, e.g., GA 53,
128; Hlerlins Hymn, 103; GA54, 168; Parmenides
113; Nietzsche, vol. 6.1 of Gesamtausgabe (Frank-
furt: Klostermann, 1996), 251, 268, 27980; Nietz-
sche, Volume II: The Eternal Return of the Same,
trans. David Farrell Krell (New York: Harper and
Row, 1984), 31, 48, 59. For Heideggers understand-
ing of salvation, see GA 7, 29; The Question Con-
cerning Technology and Other Essays, trans. Wil-
liam Lovitt (New York: Harper and Row, 1977),
28 (hereafter QCT).
27. Jean-Pierre Vernant and Pierre Vidal-Naquet, Myth
and Tragedy in Ancient Greece, trans. Janet Lloyd
(New York: Zone Books, 1988), 38. Cf. Normand
Berlin, The Secret Cause: A Discussion of Tragedy
(Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1981),
28. Jason Powell, Heideggers Contributions to Philoso-
phy: Life and the Last God (New York: Continuum,
2007), 117.
29. Regarding philosophy as onto-theo-logy, see, e.g.,
Identitt und Differenz, Gesamtausgabe 11 (Frank-
furt: Klostermann, 2006), 5179; Identity and Dif-
ference, trans. Joan Stambaugh (New York: Harper
and Row, 1969), 4274 (hereafter ID).
30. GA 65, 50708, 369, 417; Contributions to Philoso-
phy, 35758, 258, 293. See also GA 66, 239, 243;
Mindfulness, 211, 215.