Dasein’s Death in Light of Johannes von Tepl’s Christian Humanism

Document Type : Research Paper


English Department, Faculty of Humanities, Razi University, Kermanshah, Iran



Heidegger in Being and Time represents death as the culmination of Dasein in his life possibilities and considers it as a criterion in defining the totality of Dasein, its suspension of being and its stretching from birth to death, a problem that apparently has no connection with the Christian tradition. However, the explanation of death, especially in Section 48 of his magnum opus, refers to a humanistic conception of death in the late Middle Ages which was first introduced by the Czech poet Johannes von Tepl in the 15th-century poem The Plowman from Bohemia (Der Ackermann aus Böhmen). Heidegger’s particular use of a quotation from this poem in explaining Dasein’s death in Being and Time on the simultaneity of Dasein’s birth and death builds upon the humanist interpretation that Johannes presents in his poem. Johannes’ Christian humanism in rendering the relationship between humanity and death was not only gave a new interpretation of death in line with late Medieval philosophy but also played a significant role in the development of humanist thought at the beginning of the European Renaissance. Exploring Heidegger's use of Johannes’ poem in processing the concept of Dasein’s death not only makes it possible to better understand this phenomenon but also reads Heidegger's non-religious philosophical framework in defining Dasein in light of Christian humanism.