Monday, November 2, 2009

Heidegger and Fascism

This article, entitledHeil Heidegger! and written by Carlin Romano, appeared in the October 18, 2009 issue of The Chronicle of Higher education. It is largely a review of Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy by Emmanuel Faye.

I marvel that anyone can assert that Heidegger's philosophy supports Fascism, or that it grew out of Fascism, or that his philosophy grew out of his belief in Fascism. I dont utterly rule it out, but my impression is that Heidegger thought Fascism as it progressed in Germany was intellectually childish and that he could shape it into something worthwhile, but he was quickly disabused of that idea. The Nazi leaders would use Heidegger, if he would permit himself to be used, but they would not listen to him. I would like to learn Faye's arguments for believing there was a deeper relationship, but if Romano's response is any indication, Faye didn't develop such an argument, Faye was more interested in character assassination.

If someone were to argue that Thomas Carlyle's philosophy gave rise to Fascism, I could immediately see the relationship. That is, I could relate Carlyle’s Heroes and Hero Worship to Fascism. There was no relationship as far as I know, but I could accept that Carlyle’s work is consistent with Fascism.

But in what way is any of Heidegger’s work consistent with Fascism? Yes, he himself was for a time consistent with Fascism, but what he did is not necessarily identical with what he wrote. Or if it is, then someone needs to prove it. I would like to see someone relate Heidegger’s reflective and existential philosophy to the triumphalism of Fascism. I can’t see it.

I have been interested in Gadamer who studied under Heidegger and who had great respect for his teaching. I, frankly, have never thought a study of Heidegger worth the candle, but I enjoy studying Gadamer and Gadamer enjoyed Heidegger – and I credit that above Romano’s (and presumably Faye’s) hatchet job.

Also, if we cast Heidegger into outer darkness because of a temporary attraction to Fascism; what must we do to all the philosophers who were attracted to the equivalent evil, Communism? And if someone wants to argue that Communism was less of an evil than Fascism, I would be interested in that argument as well.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Heidegger's philosophy accepted the concept of the organic state that might be embodied in a single person, Ein Reich, Ein Fuhrer. The glory of the Volk is part and parcel to Heidegger's philosophy. That's where you get Ein Reich, Ein Volk, Ein Furher. No one else ever did that!