Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Does Heidegger deserve to be a philosopher?


The above article (sent to me by a reader) was written by Patricia Cohen and published in the NY Times on 11-9-09 and entitled, “An Ethical Question: does a Nazi deserve a Place Among Philosophers?”  It is essentially a review of Emmanuel Faye’s Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy.”

Cohen states at the end of her article, “A verbal brawl over Heidegger’s theories should not be surprising, though. After all, the classic American position on how liberal societies should treat dangerous ideas is worth more discussion.” 

Indeed.  If we are going to banish non-liberals from our universities and libraries, we should not overlook Ward Churchill and Noam Chomsky. 

Cohen’s article is much better than the earlier one written by Carlin Romano entitled “Heil Heidegger!”  At least it seems less hysterical.

Insofar as Being and Time and Fascism are concerned, here is what Julian Young (in Heidegger, Philosophy, and Nazism) has to say on page 55:

“The main task of this chapter is to assess the validity of this, the central, positive implication claim made with respect to Being and Time.  Does the work, in virtue of its doctrine of ‘historicality’, we need to ask, entail fascism? . . .

“The crucial passage responsible for the furore surrounding Heidegger’s doctrine of historicality is very short.  It occurs in section 74 and reads as follows:

‘if fateful (schicksalhaft) Dasein, as being-in-the-world exists essentially in being-with-others, its historicizing is a co-historicizing and is determined as (bestimmt als) destiny (Geschick).  This is how we designate the historicizing of the community (Gemeinschaft), of the people (Volk).  Destiny is not something that puts itself together out of individual fates any more than being-with-one-another can be conceived as the occurring together of several subjects.  Our fates have already been guided in advance, in our being-with-one-another in the same world in our resoluteness for definite possibilities.  Only in communication and struggle (in der Mittelung und im Kampf) does the power of destiny become free.  Dasein’s fateful destiny in and with its ‘generation’ goes to make up the full authentic historicizing of Dasein. (BT 384-5)’

“I am the Chief Book-Burner in the New Sanitized Society (NSS), and I am happy to burn any book as long as the paperwork is filled out properly, but you haven’t done that to my satisfaction, Mr. Faye.   You want me to burn Being and Time because it supports National Socialism and you offer the above as your proof?  I’m sorry, sir.  I’ve read the passage fourteen times and fail to see the connection. 


[And Faye may return.  Faye’s book is to be available on Amazon, November 24th, 2009, but more interesting is Faye’s title:  “Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935”  Neither Romano nor Cohen provide the entire title.  They leave out “in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935.”  Does this mean that Faye doesn’t intend to attack Heidegger’s Being and Time in the manner of traditional attackers?  It is hard to tell.]

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