The Heidegger Case

The Heidegger Case: On Philosophy and Politics

Copyright Date: 1992
Published by: Temple University Press
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    The Heidegger Case
    Book Description:

    "[These] essays together form an extraordinary response, and radical but not self-righteous challenge, to Heidegger's unambiguous complicity with Hitler and Nazism....This book will provoke intense dialogue and controversy about issues which, for too long, too many philosophers have chosen either to gloss over or ignore." --Ronald E. Santoni The relation between Martin Heidegger's philosophical thought and his political commitment has been widely discussed in recent years, following the publication of Victor Farías's controversial study, Heidegger and Nazism, published in this country by Temple University Press. The Heidegger Case is a collection of original essays, by both American and European philosophers, on issues raised by Heidegger's involvement with the Nazis. The contributors consider such matters as the relationship between Heidegger's philosophical theories and his public statements and activities, the ways in which his ideas on social and political life compare with those of other philosophers, and the role of philosophy with respect to politics.

    eISBN: 978-1-4399-0128-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xi-xiv)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)

    The unique career of Martin Heidegger (1889–1976) poses questions of the most profound seriousness for our age and, hardly more narrowly, provokes genuine philosophical consternation. For many years, it was the practice, widespread among Heideggerians, to suggest that there was no “problem” that required discussion at all. But recently, largely through the labors of Victor Farías and Hugo Ott, it has become impossible to deny or dismiss the deep and prolonged connection between the life of the man and his philosophy, and between his philosophy and his politics. None of the tortuous efforts in the recent discussions in France,...

  6. I
    • 1 Heidegger’s Apology: Biography as Philosophy and Ideology
      (pp. 11-51)

      Every decade since the postwar 1940s has had its public airing ofder Fall Heidegger, le cas Heidegger, il caso Heidegger,“the Heidegger case,” an international convention referring specifically to the philosopher’s notorious public involvement with Nazism in the 1930s. The literature dealing with this matter records the decennial pulse of the discussion in some detail. The first round belongs to Jean-Paul Sartre’sLes Temps modernes,as the case was initially aired under the French occupation immediately after the war; the result was Heidegger’s forced temporary retirement from teaching at the University of Freiburg. The first real (albeit brief) airing...

    • 2 Ontological Aestheticism: Heidegger, Jünger, and National Socialism
      (pp. 52-90)

      Martin Heidegger’s recently published Freiburg lectures from the early 1920s show that as a young man he was already concerned about the phenomenon of modern technology, even though he scarcely mentioned it inBeing and Time(composed in 1926) (GA56/67, 61, 63).¹ The young Heidegger used the term “modern technology” to embrace what he regarded as the twin evils of cultural modernity and industrialism.Being and Time’s apparent indifference to the subject, then, is a mere appearance. Heidegger’s decision to make modern technology a major topic for investigation in the 1930s was closely tied to his conclusion that only...

  7. II
    • 3 Biographical Bases for Heidegger’s “Mentality of Disunity”
      (pp. 93-113)
      HUGO OTT

      In a preparation for a biography of Heidegger by Heinrich Petzet, published in 1983 under the somewhat pregnant titleAuf einem Stern Zugehen(Follow a single star), the most important elements are drawn from Heidegger’s selected letters and, especially, from “protocol-like” recollections. The work was quasi-authorized by the philosopher’s family members and circle of friends and has, of course, no supporting framework.¹

      Weread with particular interest how Heidegger describes the difficult period of his life immediately after World War II in a direct conversation in 1947:

      Back then, in December 1945, when I was brought before the faculty in the...

    • 4 Heidegger, Nietzsche, and Politics
      (pp. 114-140)

      In 1964, Heidegger gave a lecture titled “The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking.” He did not intend the formula “the end of philosophy” in a negative sense, since he pointed out that the philosophical tradition had never reached to its own roots: “Philosophy does speak about the light of reason, but does not heed the opening of Being.” There must be an event, he believed, and an appropriation of an opening if Being is to be open to men, and reason is to discern the distinct Being of beings. The end of philosophy represents the possibility of...

    • 5 Heidegger and Hitler’s War
      (pp. 141-164)

      The enthusiasm aroused by the outbreak of World War I among German intellectuals is well known. To quote one among them, Max Weber, “This war, whatever its outcome may be, is truly great and marvelous beyond any expectation.”¹ That was a moment when not even the theorist of “disenchantment” could escape the “fascination” of war. Even after Germany’s defeat, self-criticism was very slow to blame German culture as a whole. The general assessment seemed to imply that it was not so much the war that was to be questioned but the divisiveness and the crisis of the West.

      In 1931...

  8. III
    • 6 Heidegger and the Greeks
      (pp. 167-187)

      Just so we understand each other, I will be quite direct right from the start. You must revise your views, your views on philosophy, that is. I would suggest that you see in it an intellectual institution that governs the universal as the universal: the whole—the entirety of the intellect as man actually possesses it—of man’s existence and practices, of his world and history, of his beyond and timelessness. But this is a wrong view of philosophy. Every philosophy is provincial and contemporary; it proves itself the master of the “small view” and the limited perspective; it aims...

    • 7 Heidegger and Praxis
      (pp. 188-207)

      Well before the stir caused by Farías’s book, the Philosophy Department at the University of Essex invited me to take part in its colloquium “Reading Heidegger.” They left the topic up to me.

      At that time I was captivated by the work of Hannah Arendt, who, I was well aware, had been Heidegger’s student and an intimate at Marburg—that is, during the years when Heidegger began to articulate a field of investigation which he called “fundamental ontology”—his famous inquiry into the horizon of intelligibility of the meaning of Being, the horizon (asBeing and Timewould soon try...

    • 8 The History of Being and Political Revolution: Reflections on a Posthumous Work of Heidegger
      (pp. 208-228)

      The sixty-fifth volume of Martin Heidegger’s complete works contains a study of more that 500 pages, the most important work the philosopher produced afterSein und Zeit:it is theBeiträge zur Philosophie. Written between 1936 and 1938, therefore after Heidegger’s resignation from the rectorship and at a moment when, through disappointment with that experience in the real world, he was devoting himself entirely to developing his conceptions, this work had to wait for the centenary of the philosopher’s birth in order to be published.¹ Did its author consider it too critical of the dominant ideology to be published in...

  9. IV
    • 9 Philosophy, Politics—and the “New” Questions for Hegel, for Heidegger, and for Phantasy
      (pp. 231-254)

      This study examines the relationship between Heidegger and Hegel under three headings. (1) Hegel’s relationship to the authority of the state, especially in Prussia, is portrayed by some critics primarily from the point of view of suspicion of anaccommodation. Thus, the same suspicion would fall on Hegel’s philosophy as well and, from there, on all thinking obligated to his philosophy. (2) For Heidegger there is an unambiguous identification with National Socialism, which is clearly documented, at least for a certain period of time. Nevertheless, there is still disagreement on the extent to which Heidegger’s personal involvement in the movement...

    • 10 A Comment on Heidegger’s Comment on Nietzsche’s Alleged Comment on Hegel’s Comment on the Power of Negativity
      (pp. 255-262)

      This is no more than a footnote to one subchapter of the first volume of Heidegger’s lectures on Nietzsche.¹ The footnote, however, deals with an issue of some importance to the understanding of both Heidegger and Nietzsche.

      In the interview published inDer Spiegeljust after his death, Heidegger asserted that whoever had ears to hear knew that he had criticized the Nazi regime in his Nietzsche lectures.² It probably takes an ear subtler than mine to hear this criticism, even if it is true (as Alexander Schwan points out in the second edition of his excellent bookPolitische Philosophie...

  10. V
    • 11 Heidegger’s Scandal: Thinking and the Essence of the Victim
      (pp. 265-281)

      “Why has Martin Heidegger always refused to make an explicit critique of the monstrosities of the Nazis?” Farías asks. His silence can be explained, the author continues, by Heidegger’s boundless attachment to the inner truth of the movement, whatever criticisms he may have made of the Party itself. An anecdote from Rudolph Bultmann proves the point, Farías thinks. When Bultmann suggested after the war that, like St. Augustine, Heidegger write hisRetractiones,not waiting like the saint until the end of his life but doing so now and for love of the truth of his thought, Heidegger’s face froze over...

    • 12 Heidegger and Politics: Some Lessons
      (pp. 282-312)

      “Why is it that you don’t engage in polemics?” Foucault was asked shortly before his death, to which he replied: “It is true that I don’t like to get involved in polemics. If I open a book and see the author is accusing an adversary of ‘infantile leftism,’ I shut it again right away. That is not my way of doing things; … I insist on this difference as something essential: a whole morality is at stake, the morality that concerns the search for the truth and the relation to the other.” In the same interview, Foucault distinguished sharply between...

    • 13 Riveted to a Monstrous Site: On Heidegger’s Beiträge zur Philosophie
      (pp. 313-330)

      In what follows, I should like to glean from Heidegger’sContributions to Philosophy¹ some evidence for reading that text, just as well, as a monstrous “Contribution to Politics.”

      Why this text rather than another? Not, to be sure, because—following certain commentators—I consider it his masterwork.² Far from it. But, in a sense,becauseof this “far from it.” First, theseContributionsdate from the years when Heidegger was painfully working through what he would later call his greatest blunder, committed a few years earlier; when, circumspectly, he dared in his courses to distance himself from the regime; and...

  11. VI
    • 14 Foreword to the Spanish Edition, Heidegger and Nazism
      (pp. 333-347)

      When the appearance of my book aroused controversy first in France and then in Italy, Brazil, and Holland, I not only wanted my response to answer adequately the objections it raised; I also wanted it to reflect the suppositions, motivations, even the implications involved in my having written it in the first place.

      Until now, the fundamental discussion has been carried out in Europe and the United States. The criticism, of course, has addressed the content of the problems set forth, but at the same time—and surprisingly—it has also focused on the specific manner in which the debate...

    • 15 The Purloined Letter
      (pp. 348-363)

      Simple and odd—isn’t this also the hermeneutic situation that Heidegger bequeathed regarding the links between his thought and National Socialism? A little phrase was published at the end of hisIntroduction to Metaphysics(1953) (Gilbert Kahn’s translation had appeared in France as early as 1958).¹ In these few words, everything was already said, scandalously exposed to the public and yet (after initial protests)² supported and even “normalized” by the philosophical community. It would be futile to go on compiling innumerable archival documents and to give in to the anecdotal frenzy that took hold of so many people after Farías’s...

    • 16 The Political Incompetence of Philosophy
      (pp. 364-370)

      The conflict that has pointedly attached itself in recent days to Heidegger’s name is actually an ancient one. How does a philosopher relate to political and social realities? How do his problems and insights help him to come to terms with reality? To the discussion that took place over Farías’s book on Heidegger, I contributed my own views in November 1987, in a text that appeared in its fullest form in German under the title “Zurück von Syrakus” (Return from Syracuse). The title alludes to Plato’s disillusionment during two trips to Syracuse, in Sicily, by invitation of the “Tyrant.” The...

  12. VII
    • 17 Heidegger’s French Connection and the Emperor’s New Clothes
      (pp. 373-404)

      In France, the intellectual debate on Heidegger’s Nazism began in the pages ofLes Temps Modernes,the well-known French intellectual journal founded by Sarte and his colleagues when France was liberated from the Nazis, and later edited by him for many years. The first phase includes texts by Karl Löwith, Alfred de Towarnicki, Eric Weil, Alphonse De Waelhens, and Maurice de Gandillac, preceded by an unsigned editorial note. Here, just before the appearance of the “Letter on Humanism,” in which Heidegger rejects Sartrean existentialism as well as humanism, the unnamed editor (in all probability, Sartre) draws a comparison between Heidegger...

    • 18 Discarding and Recovering Heidegger
      (pp. 405-422)

      What, ultimately, is the connection between politics and philosophy? Is power subject to rational direction, or is rational direction the self-deceiving idealization of the exertion of power? Are they relatively independent of each other, or are they the disjoined mirrorings of a deeper single process? One senses the trap of answering and the scandal of refusing to answer. But given the enormities of the Second World War, the events that led to it, the breaching of all political constraints which that trauma seems to have made commonplace down to Vietnam, Afghanistan, Cambodia, Ethiopia, Lebanon, Iran, Northern Ireland, the Hungarian uprising,...

  13. Contributors
    (pp. 423-424)
  14. Index
    (pp. 425-437)