Tuesday, September 27, 2016

More on Heidegger

I've posted before on how Martin Heidegger was apparently more enmeshed in the Nazi worldview than has traditionally been claimed, in light of the publication of his black notebooks. But here is another article making the point rather damningly.

For Heidegger, the “uprooting of beings from Being” was the metaphysical curse of the modern world, the source of the nihilism that afflicted humanity. Where the ancient Greeks enjoyed a holistic and organic relationship with Being—which for Heidegger is close to, but not quite identical with, what earlier Romantic thinkers meant by Nature—modern philosophy and technology set the individual at odds with Being. Instead of the miraculous background of human existence, Being is reduced to a series of objects that can be mathematically calculated and industrially exploited. These themes dominate Heidegger’s later thought, where he condemns the way of thinking he calls “enframing” (Gestell) and calls humanity to its true role as the “shepherd of Being.”

And who is responsible for this modern curse? In his published work, Heidegger traces it all the way back to Plato and Aristotle, suggesting that it was the fate of Western civilization to turn against itself in this way. But in the “Black Notebooks,” he finds a much simpler and more familiar scapegoat: the Jews. “World Jewry,” Weltjudentum, with its overtones of hostile conspiracy, was a common Nazi phrase that the philosopher had no qualms about embracing, using it several times in the privacy of the notebooks. Thus in 1941 Heidegger writes: “World Jewry, spurred on by the emigrant that Germany let out, remains elusive everywhere. Despite its increased display of power, it never has to take part in the practice of war, whereas we are reduced to sacrificing the best blood of the best of our own people.” This is a breathtaking example of how Nazi anti-Semitism precisely inverted reality: At just the moment when the Holocaust was killing millions of helpless Jews, Heidegger suggests that it was “elusive” World Jewry that was killing Germans.

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