Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction

By Michael Inwood | Go to book overview

Chapter 11
St Martin of Messkirch?

Heidegger is above all a philosopher. The politics is peripheral. But we cannot forget that dark episode in the early 1930s, his entanglement with Nazism. What does it tell us about his philosophy? And conversely what does his philosophy tell us about it? Not much.


The Rector

In 1948 Heidegger wrote to an old pupil, Herbert Marcuse, that in 1933 he 'expected from National Socialism a spiritual renewal of life in its entirety, a reconciliation of social antagonisms and a deliverance of Western Dasein from the dangers of communism' ( Wolin, 162). Some of his supporters justify his decision on the ground that Nazism was at that time the only alternative to communism. Why prefer Nazism to communism? The modern world, as BT portrays it, is out of joint. But there is little in BT to favour Nazism rather than communism or, say, a resolute withdrawal from public life. Heidegger was a conservative, preferring variety and rank to 'levelling', the uniformity and egalitarianism that he associated with the USA and the Soviet Union. He was, even after his disenchantment with Nazism, intensely patriotic, believing that the fate of the West would be decided in Germany, though by German philosophy rather than by German arms. But other conservatives and patriots, such as Spengler and jünger, resisted the allure of Nazism. Is not Nazism intrinsically evil? One can say: 'I am a

-129-

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Heidegger: A Very Short Introduction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Illustrations vi
  • References viii
  • Chapter 1 - Heidegger's Life 1
  • Chapter 2 - Heidegger's Philosophy 9
  • Chapter 3 - Being 13
  • Chapter 4 - Dasein 20
  • Chapter 5 - The World 31
  • Chapter 6 - Language, Truth, and Care 47
  • Chapter 7 - Time, Death, and Conscience 64
  • Chapter 8 - Temporality, Transcendence, and Freedom 87
  • Chapter 9 - History and World-Time 98
  • Chapter 10 - Art 116
  • Chapter 11 - St Martin of Messkirch? 129
  • Further Reading 135
  • Glossary 137
  • Index 142
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