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How Could He Say That?

There’s a movement afoot to remove Martin Heidegger from the pantheon of great philosophers — not because, as the Monty Python crew stated, he was a “boozy beggar who could drink you under the table,” but for his Nazi views.

This charge is led by one Emmanuel Faye, who is about to publish a book that argues that Heidegger’s philosophy and his political views are so intertwined that they can’t be separated, and that the German existentialist should therefore be recharacterized, and pitched into the unloved “Nazism” section of libraries.

I’d like to congratulate Faye for discerning that conclusion based on his reading of Heidegger. He sent me back to my dust-layered copy of Being and Time, which I was forced to spend an entire semester reading back in college, in a course dauntingly called “Phenomenology.” (The course name should itself have been a warning, but I was philosophy-smitten.) Somehow, the professor, a delightfully brilliant and idiosyncratic guy who made jokes about philosophers that were funnier than a written recounting suggests,1 made this stuff interesting. Of course, that wasn’t hard because the text was breezily light and clear. For example:

In demonstrating that Dasein (“there being,” roughly) is ontico-ontologically  prior, we may have misled the reader (not me!) into supposing that this entity must also be what is given as ontico-ontologically primary not only in the sense that it can itself be grasped ‘immediately’, but also in that the kind of Being which it possesses is presented just as immediately. Ontically, of course (of course!), Dasein is not only close to us — even that which is closest: we are it, each of  it, we ourselves. (p. 37, as if it matters)

And so on, for some 500 pages.

Can you see how this could lead a reader straight to Nazism? Me too. This writing is…monstrous! For him to suggest that we are Dasein…speak for yourself, buddy.

  1. Example: “Sometimes I think I should read more Schopenhauer. Then I think: Probably not.”
  1. William Kennedy
    November 11th, 2009 at 11:23 | #1

    Are you going nuts? Best Nick

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