One of the essential achievements of Being and Time is the setting-aside of the metaphysical conception of death. Within that conception lie not merely the theological idea of death, understood as entry into another life, but also its humanist conception, which regards death as an alien simple-presence, or as being linked in a purely extrinsic way with human life. Heidegger writes, “Death is a way to be, which Dasein takes over as soon as it is.”1 What the naturalistic definition signifies, understanding death as decease, is not only extremely reductive, but also of a piece with a conception of existence grasped as simple-presence – that is to say, as excluding any being-possible, and hence metaphysical in its derivation. The theological conception of death as entry into eternity is based on a metaphysical theory of man conceived in the image of God;...

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