The Corner

Heil Heidegger!

Speaking of fascists, Carlin Romano has a rip-roaring attack on Heidegger in the Chronicle of Higher Education. It’s pegged to the U.S. release of Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy by Emmanuel Faye. I am not a fan of Heidegger’s and I agree with a great deal of what Romano and (apparently) Faye have to say about the man. Heidegger is no hero in my book (literally!). But I do think they both go too far in at least one respect. From Romano’s piece:

“We must acknowledge,” Faye says in one fierce conclusion, “that an author who has espoused the foundations of Nazism cannot be considered a philosopher.” Finally, he reiterates his opposition to the Heidegger Industry: “If his writings continue to proliferate without our being able to stop this intrusion of Nazism into human education, how can we not expect them to lead to yet another translation into facts and acts, from which this time humanity might not be able to recover?”

I think this is a fascinating but ultimately absurd assertion. Can philosophers not be evil? Can they not have political allegiances and sympathies? Really? I have no doubt there are a lot of dull and impenetrable books attempting to define what a philosopher is. But I’m hard pressed to imagine any definition that could plausibly exclude Heidegger from that job description.

Also I take it from Romano but also from the highly entertaining comments on the piece, that Faye envisions some sort of ban on Heidegger’s work? That strikes me as crazy talk.

But that aside, I love it when Heidegger gets drubbed for the fact that he was a great big Nazi. And I love watching people who’ve dedicated much of their life’s work to Heidegger or to his disciples, who also believe in their bones that they are in some deep and fundamental sense in the vanguard in the fight against Nazism, explain the contradiction.

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