Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Absence of Soil, Historicity, and Goethe in Heidegger's Being and Time: Sheehan on Faye

Academic journal article Philosophy Today

Absence of Soil, Historicity, and Goethe in Heidegger's Being and Time: Sheehan on Faye

Article excerpt

In the summer issue of 2015, Philosophy Today published a paper by Thomas Sheehan entitled "Emmanuel Faye: The Introduction of Fraud into Philosophy?" (EF), in which Sheehan rebukes, in extraordinarily strong terms, Faye's book on Heidegger's introduction of Nazism into philosophy, Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935 (HI).1 In this paper, I shall address the longest part of Sheehan's paper, namely his critique of Faye's interpretation of Being and Time, that is, Sheehan's claims regarding the issue of historicity in §74 and Heidegger's usage of the word Bodenlosigkeit (absence of soil, groundlessness) throughout the book. In the first section, I argue that Sheehan misquotes Heidegger; that his critique of Faye rests on the usual "American" interpretation of §74; that he realizes that this interpretation has a crucial weak spot; that his remedy to save it is wrong; and that from the viewpoint of a different and much more plausible interpretation of §74 Faye is right. In addition, I show that Sheehan's reference to Goethe boomerangs. In the second section, I show that Sheehan is wrong-in fact, terribly wrong-regarding Heidegger's usage of Bodenlosigkeit. Heidegger does not refer, as Sheehan claims, to the unfoundedness of philosophical positions but to what he regards to be the uprootedness of modern societies. In the last section, I defend Faye's translation of Bodenlosigkeit as absence de sol (absence of soil). In sum, Sheehan's critique of Faye's interpretation of Being and Time lacks any foundation. All the aspects of Being and Time that he addresses speak not only not against Faye but rather even for Faye. In addition, for this reason, much, if not all, of Sheehan's critique of Faye's book as a whole is, according to Sheehan's own criteria, void.2

SHEEHAN ON §74 OF BEING AND TIME

As to the political dimension of Heidegger's concept of historicity in §74, there are, basically, two groups of interpretations. For the first, the individual remains the center of the historical happening. For the second, however, it does not do so; rather, the National Socialist community of the people emerges as the main player. Sheehan belongs to the first group, and claims that the notion of historicity is politically neutral except that it excludes a vote for Hitler (EF 381n45). Rockmore, in a chapter in a book from 1993, belongs to the second group, and so does my book from 1999 (HD), with its very detailed interpretation of §74 and an extensive comparison of Heidegger with Hitler, Scheler, Lukács, and Tillich. Sheehan mentions only Rockmore (EF 380n44).

Sheehan's first point concerns the issue of community. He quotes Faye saying that in §74 "'the ideas that are at the foundation of National Socialist doctrine are already present-the Gemeinschaft ["community"] understood as Schicksalsgemeinschaft ["a community of destiny"] and Volksgemeinschaft ["a community of the Volk"]'" (EF 379; see HI 16).3 Sheehan claims "that the two Nazi terms [Faye] cites above-Schicksalsgemeinschaft and Volksgemeinschaft-appear nowhere in §74 or anywhere else in Being and Time" (EF 379), adding that "Being and Time never speaks of a Volksgemeinschaft, only of das Geschehen des Volkes, the historical life of a people, any people" (EF 379n40). However, Sheehan is wrong. Heidegger does not say "das Geschehen des Volkes." Sheehan has left out two words and one comma. For, Heidegger designates with the term Geschick (destiny) "the occurrence of the community, of the people [das Geschehen der Gemeinschaft, des Volkes]" (BT 352.4-5 = SZ 384.31-32).4 After Hitler's "seizure of power," at the latest, Heidegger will, as for instance in his rectoral address in May 1933, say "Volksgemeinschaft" (RZ 113). There is no significant difference between "Volksgemeinschaft" and "der Gemeinschaft, des Volkes." At the time of Being and Time, Heidegger might have thought that the word Volksgemeinschaft sounded too blunt. …

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.