Thursday, December 3, 2009

Heidegger and Derrida: Facts and Interpretations

Some place else I had written:
"Luc Ferry and Renaut in their French Philosophy of the Sixties, An Essay on Antihumanism, do not single Heidegger out, but they include him as one of the anti-humanists, saying for Heidegger (and Derrida) there are no facts, only interpretations.  We are not to use our  minds to reason – we are not to seek to be rational.  We are to seek authenticity."
            Of course I was overly brief here and subject to misinterpretation.  One thing Ferry and Renaut do not do is "summarize"; which may confuse some.   They use different words than are commonly associated with the various philosophers they discuss -- but then "words" cannot summarize.  And Putting things in "different words" often has some sort of advantage.  "Summarize" Derrida's "deconstruction" using different words, for example -- or Bultmann's "demythologizing."  They move away from something some people like to think of as "facts" and into the realm of "interpretation."  Do Bultmann and Derrida do this using "reason"; well yes in the sense that they use their minds to come up with these concepts (with the help of Heidegger), but they don't emphasize "reason" as the grounding for their leap.  They are not "rationalists." 
And one of the things that makes Heidegger so interesting (or frustrating) is that one can find him saying different and contradictory things in different places.  Stephen Hicks ( ) sees Leo Strauss and subsequently Allan Bloom as having been influenced by Heidegger.  He didn't say what he meant, but I can see that Bloom's emphasis in the "Western Tradition" sounds very like Heidegger's emphasis on the "German Tradition." 
But in another place I can see Al Gore and Ted Kaczynski as perhaps drawing inspiration.
Ferry and Renaut wouldn't disagree with Black ( ) and Hicks in seeing Heidegger as providing multiple sorts of inspiration.  Their concern was that in France prominent philosophers, not just Heidegger and Derrida, were providing inspiration for moving more and more away from "Humanism" -- Humanism in the sense of "man the subject," man who as an individual does things, makes decisions, chooses.  Choice is being taken from him and invested in some organization or concept. Heidegger believed that Individualism was a false standard for life.  How can the modern Frenchman, influenced by Heidegger not feel anxious and alienated?
And of what use was "reason" when Heidegger was able to advocate a replacement for it – a type of intellectual Gleichschaltung?  This is one of the places that some thinkers are seeing an association between his philosophy and Totalitarianism.  Do not trust your own reason.  Instead listen to the ubermensche and then "go along."  And indeed it was a huge “blunder” for Heidegger to urge them to follow the “leader” then in power in Germany.

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