Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Subjectivity and Race in Heidegger's Writings

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Subjectivity and Race in Heidegger's Writings

Article excerpt

This study concludes seven years of international discussion that followed the publication of my book on Heidegger in France. The experience ofthe controversy has taught me that a debate can only be fruitful if the interlocutors share the same concern for exactness and truth, and agree upon the ways to achieve it. What is most needful today if the criticism of interpretations is to go forward on a solid basis is fundamental research supported by the philological examination of manuscript sources. That is why, for the last few years, I have given my most significant lectures in German universities. Indeed, for about the last fifteen years, that country has recognized and accepted a field of research focusing on the relations between philosophers and National Socialism under the Third Reich.1 In France, on the other hand, there is practically no in-depth, systematic research on that subject, with the exception of the work of two or three individuals: Nicolas Tertulian comes to mind. Due to these circumstances, the question - even though a very important one - of the relation between the thought of Martin Heidegger and his National Socialism is reduced at best to a matter of opinion, and at worst it is presented as something scandalous. Everybody thinks they have a right to decide, with a self-assurance in inverse ratio to the time they have spent studying the question. An example that is at once comic and regrettable ofthat state of mind may be seen in the little work published in 2010 by Alain Badiou and Barbara Cassin titled Heidegger, le nazisme, les femmes, la philosophie [Heidegger, Nazism, Women, and Philosophy]. Both authors think that "their respective positions in the philosophical field give weight to the fact that, on this question (as formulated by the title of their work) they are of the same opinion."2 In short, "Badiou and Cassin" [our authors speak of themselves in the third person] share the same opinion on the "Heidegger affair,"3 and that is all that matters. Now, what is that opinion? "Heidegger is certainly a great philosopher, who was, and at the same time, a very ordinary Nazi. That's the way it is. Let philosophy deal with it!"4 These declarations are symptomatic. According to Badiou and his interlocutor, it is not so much Heidegger who has to bear the responsibility and burden of his Nazism as it is philosophy itself! This transfer of responsibility, as unjust as it is fatal, appears as the off-hand effect of a whole strategy put in place by Heidegger after the Nazi defeat and passed on more or less consciously by his various students and disciples. It is therefore one of the main points I will come back to, but first let me finish contextualizing my remarks.

Again, the present study concludes a series of lectures that were first given in German universities (Bremen, Frankfurt, Siegen, Berlin), then in universities of other countries, such as Spain, Italy, Belgium, the United States, Mexico, and Brazil. I will speak only ofthe two main lectures. In the first, given at the university of Bremen during a UNESCO World Day, in December 2007, titled "Being, History, Technology and Extermination (Vernichtung) in Heidegger's works,"5 I symbolically took up the opposing position of the famous lecture given by Heidegger at the Bremen Club on December 2, 1949 and divided by him for publication into four different texts: Das Ding, Das Gestell, Die Gefahr, Die Kehre [The Thing, The Enframing, The Danger, The Turn]. I particularly wanted to show that Heidegger's rejection of global technology understood as a Gestell did not call into question his repeated praise - repeated on two occasions after 1945, namely, in 1953 (the publication ofthe Introduction to Metaphysics with the addition of a parenthesis emphasizing his praise of "the internal truth and greatness" of the National-Socialist "movement") and in 1976 (in the posthumous publication of the Spiegel interview of 1966) - ofthe "satisfying" relation instituted by National Socialism between man and the "the essence of technology. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.