Heidegger's Polemos

Heidegger's Polemos: From Being to Politics

Gregory Fried
Copyright Date: 2000
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 320
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  • Book Info
    Heidegger's Polemos
    Book Description:

    Gregory Fried offers in this book a careful investigation of Martin Heidegger's understanding of politics. Disturbing issues surround Heidegger's commitment to National Socialism, his disdain for liberal democracy, and his rejection of the Enlightenment. Fried confronts these issues, focusing not on the historical debate over Heidegger's personal involvement with Nazism, but on whether and how the formulation of Heidegger's ontology relates to his political thinking as expressed in his philosophical works.The inquiry begins with Heidegger's interpretation of Heraclitus, particularly the term polemos ("war," or, in Heidegger's usage, "confrontation"). Fried contends that Heidegger invests polemos with broad ontological significance and that his appropriation of the word provides important insights into major strands of his thinking-his conception of the human being, understanding of truth, and interpretation of history-as well as the meaning of the so-called turn in his thought. Although Fried finds that Heidegger's politics are continuous with his thought, he also argues that Heidegger's work raises important questions about contemporary identity politics. Fried also shows that many postmodernists, despite attempts to distance themselves from Heidegger, fail to avoid some of the same political pitfalls his thinking entailed.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13327-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Note on Translation
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Abbreviations of Frequently Cited Works
    (pp. xiii-xvi)
  6. Introduction: How to Read This Book
    (pp. 1-20)

    Over a decade has now passed since the eruption ofl’affaire Heideggerin 1987. The drama of this affair lay in the alleged discovery that Heidegger had been a committed Nazi and in the subsequent explosion of scandal in intellectual circles, and even among the wider public in Europe, especially in France. I say “alleged” because much had already been known to scholars about Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialism; however, this information simply had not been assembled and presented effectively to the general public.¹ But the publication of Victor Farías’sHeidegger and Nazismin French in precipitated the scandal, to...

  7. Chapter 1 Polemos and Heraclitus
    (pp. 21-42)

    Our task is to make sense of the role of polemos in Heidegger’s thinking as part of the larger project of inquiring into what remains at issue for us in the problem of fascism. Heidegger’s interpretation of the ontological meaning of polemos derives from his reading of Heraclitus, and, in particular, of Fragment 53. In what follows, I shall endeavor to provide a reading of this fragment and to show how the themes to be explored in the subsequent chapters have their enduring roots in Heidegger’s reading of Fragment 53.

    In Greek, this fragment reads as follows: “Polemos pantōn men...

  8. Chapter 2 Polemos as Da-Sein
    (pp. 43-86)

    Heidegger begins his introduction toBeing and Timewith a call to arms for “a battle of the giants concerning Being” (a citation from Plato’sSophist,245e6–246e1): “Today the question [of the meaning of Being] has fallen into oblivion, even though our age reckons it as progress to affirm ‘metaphysics’ once again. At the same time, we consider ourselves relieved from the exertions of kindling anew agigantomakhia peri tēs ousias”(SZ, 2).

    For the question of the meaning of Being to be retrieved from oblivion, “our age” must rekindle a polemos concerning Being. The giants and the gods...

  9. Chapter 3 Polemos and the Revolution of History
    (pp. 87-135)

    Dasein is polemos and polemos is Dasein. Our discussion of Heidegger’s analysis of Dasein, of truth as a-lētheia, and of the Kehre as a turning between Dasein and Being in the polemos has brought us this far. But now I need to make good on the claim that because polemos is Da-sein, and Daseinistime, then polemos itself is the meaning of Dasein’s temporality, that polemos is time. To accomplish this, I shall lay out Heidegger’s interpretation of time in his early period. Phenomenology must show how Being unfolds, as Heidegger says, on the horizon of time. The sense...

  10. Chapter 4 Polemos and the Revolution of Politics
    (pp. 136-185)

    Heidegger’s defenders and detractors often have one point in common: they question whether anything resembling “political philosophy,” in the ordinary sense at least, can be found in his work.¹ Their reservations are undoubtedly sound if by political philosophy we understand something like Locke’sTwo Treatises of Government. Locke’s second treatise, for example, provides the reader with a highly organized account of fundamental principles of politics and goes on from these to detailed arguments about the form that government should take if it is to accord with these principles. But one simply does not find such technical discussions in the large...

  11. Chapter 5 Polemos, Postmodernism, and Derrida
    (pp. 186-245)

    Postmodernism and its attendant phenomenon of deconstruction call for special attention in this study. I cannot deal here with everything that falls under the rubric of postmodernism; the field is simply too vast.¹ The subject is of relevance here because Heidegger must be counted as one of the greatest influences on postmodernist thought— even, with Nietzsche, as one of its chief “founders.” Moreover, it has often been postmodernist thinkers who have engaged in the most sustained reflections on the meaning and implications of Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialism. At their best, such postmodernist writers do not limit themselves to treating...

  12. Conclusion: Where Do We Go from Here?
    (pp. 246-256)

    We have come a long way with Heidegger, traversing, as the title of one of Derrida’s interviews has it, “The Philosophers’ Hell.” But if our confrontation with Heidegger, our polemos with his thinking, has been at all successful, it remains incomplete. If my argument about the hermeneutics of polemos is correct—that to escape merely nihilistic destructiveness, interpretation must embracereconstructionas well as deconstruction—then we have arrived only at the halfway point. At stake, in the end, is the Being of our politics. But so far, this project has been mainly critical. The moment of reconstruction would come...

  13. Appendix: On the Editing of Heidegger’s Nietzsche Lectures
    (pp. 257-262)
  14. Notes
    (pp. 263-282)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 283-296)
  16. Index
    (pp. 297-302)