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Heidegger and Criticism

Heidegger and Criticism: Retrieving the Cultural Politics of Destruction

William V. Spanos
Foreword by Donald E. Pease
Copyright Date: 1993
Edition: NED - New edition
Pages: 368
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  • Book Info
    Heidegger and Criticism
    Book Description:

    In Heidegger and Criticism: Retrieving the Cultural Politics of Destruction, William Spanos examines the controversy, both in Europe and the United States, surrounding Heidegger and recent disclosures about his Nazi past. Not intended as a defense or apology for Heidegger’s thought, Spanos instead affirms the importance of Heidegger’s “antihumanist” interrogation of the modern age, its globalization of technology, and its neo-imperialist politics. The attack on Heidegger’s “antihumanist” discourse (by “liberal humanists” who have imported the European debated into the United States) aligns ideologically with the ongoing policing operations of William Bennett, Allan Bloom, E.D. Hirsch, Roger Kimball, Dinesh D”Souza, and others in the spheres of higher education and cultural production. Throughout his arguments, Spanos focuses not so much on Heidegger the historical subject as on the transformative cultural political discourses and practices, implicit in and enabled by Heidegger’s interrogations of Being and Time, that have led to the contemporary emergence of the multiplicity of resistant “Others” colonized by hegemonic discursive formations, all the while reminding us that Heidegger’s philosophic interrogations eventually generate a diverse body of transgressive writing and an oppositional intellectual climate in the West.

    eISBN: 978-0-8166-8442-7
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xxii)
    Donald E. Pease

    I consider it my responsibility in this foreword to William Spanos’sHeidegger and Criticism: Retrieving the Cultural Politics of Destructionto sketch out the significance of its occasion—the possible erasure of Heidegger’s influence from American criticism—as well as the figures marking it. Those figures include such proper names as “Heidegger,” “Dresden,” “Auschwitz,” “Vietnam,” and they share as a common property only the absence of any speculative instrument capable of conceptualizing their interrelationship. As grounds for his erasure, Heidegger’s critics propose that the Heidegger who persevered in undermining the “forgetting of Being” should have understood himself to be under...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxiii-xxiv)
  5. Chapter 1 On Heidegger’s Destruction and the Metaphorics of Following: An Introduction
    (pp. 1-21)

    The publication of Victor Farías’sHeidegger and Nazismin France in 1987 reopened the question concerning the relationship between Heidegger’s thought and Nazi politics with the force of scandal. Farías’s book contributes little that was not already known about Heidegger’s personal affiliation with Nazism.¹ And his analytical effort to implicate Heidegger’s thought at large with Nazism is characterized by a superficiality so obvious that, as Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe has observed, it betrays a certain intellectual dishonesty,² a dishonesty, I would add, endemic to the future anterior perspective of anthropological inquiry. It suggests that Farias’s identification of Heidegger’s philosophical writing at large...

  6. Chapter 2 Breaking the Circle: Hermeneutics as Dis-closure
    (pp. 22-52)

    Martin Heidegger’s destructive phenomenology has shown that modern philosophy, from Descartes through Kant and Hegel to the discourse of positive science, constitutes an “anthropology” that fulfills the imperatives of a metaphysical or logocentric concept of truth and thus brings “philosophy to its end.”¹ Simultaneously, in dis-closing the temporality being that the (anthropo)logos as Word or Presence encloses (covers over and forgets), Heidegger’s destruction of the tradition points to a hermeneutics of being that is capable of surpassing metaphysics (Überwindung), to a postmodern hermeneutics of dis-covery, in which a disclosed temporality is given ontological priority over Being.² What I wish to...

  7. Chapter 3 Heidegger, Kierkegaard, and the Hermeneutic Circle
    (pp. 53-80)

    In the previous chapter, I tried to show that Modernism in Western literature—and in the New Critical and structuralist hermeneutics to which it gave rise—is grounded in a representational strategy that spatializes the temporal process of existence as being-in-the-world. It is, in other words, a strategy that is subject to a vicious circularity that closes off the phenomenological/existential understanding of the temporal being of existence, and analogously, of the literary text: the sequence of words. It is no accident that the autotelic and in-clusive circle—the circle, that is, as image or figure, or, as I prefer, as...

  8. Chapter 4 The Indifference of Difference: Retrieving Heidegger’s Destruction
    (pp. 81-131)

    In an essay entitled “Nothing Fails Like Success,” Barbara Johnson, one of the ablest apologists for deconstruction, attempts to defend it against attacks from the literary right and left.¹ In the process, she betrays the “blindness of (over) sight” of most, if not all, of the American exponents and practitioners of this method of interpretation deriving more or less from the authority of Jacques Derrida.² Like them, she all too character– isticallyoverlooksthe fact that deconstruction as articulated and practiced by Derrida himself has its source in and constitutes a calculatedre-vision(as much as a deconstruction) of Martin...

  9. Chapter 5 Heidegger and Foucault: The Politics of the Commanding Gaze
    (pp. 132-180)

    In the preceding essays, I situated my destructive inquiry into the operations of humanist discursive practices at the site of ontology. My purpose in doing so was to suggest the underlying continuity between the various historically specific representations of reality in the onto-theological tradition, the tradition that has come to be called “the West” or “the Occident”: that these representations constitute, in Derrida's terms, “a series of substitutions of center for center, . . . a linked chain of determinations of the center.”¹ My limitation of inquiry to the site of ontology was intended to thematize the metaphysics informing the...

  10. Chapter 6 Heidegger, Nazism, and the “Repressive Hypothesis”: The American Appropriation of the Question
    (pp. 181-252)

    The publication in French of Victor Farías’s bookHeidegger et le nazismein 1987 kindled a fierce debate in Europe, especially in France, over the question of Martin Heidegger’s politics. With the publication of “A Symposium on Heidegger and Nazism” in the Winter 1989 issue ofCritical Inquiry,the editors of this prestigious journal devoted to “theory” translated this European debate to the North American intellectual milieu. This issue, edited by Arnold I. Davidson, a coeditor ofCritical Inquiryand member of the Committee on General Studies in the Humanities and on Conceptual Foundations of Science at the University of...

  11. Notes
    (pp. 253-322)
  12. Index
    (pp. 323-336)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)