The philosopher we would prefer to displace

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Some will discredit Martin Heidegger – because it is something in his social criticism that they would rather forget.


Again, the debate over Heidegger's relationship with Nazism emerges. Now they have finally found what will show him as a Nazi and anti-Semite once and for all: his own notebooks from 1931 to the beginning of the seventies, the so-called Black booklets. This year's first Window number has this as the main theme. Lars Holm-Hansen states in his article that Heidegger's philosophy has a revolutionary core, which I fully agree with: Heidegger would not only change philosophy, but also the world. Here he is in line with Marx – but Heidegger's project was even more radical: He wanted to change man, and how man relates to his being. Today's man is alienated, he thought, and dreamed of putting his analysis of human being in the world to life. At the beginning of the thirties, Heidegger imagined that national socialism was to pave the way for the new man.

Ideological vacuum. Heidegger held the rector's office at the University of Freiburg only about a year, until April 1934. This was the year he claimed to have been an opponent of the regime – yet he appeared at a philosophy conference in Rome in 1936 with the swastika on his suit. To his former pupil Karl Löwith he said that national socialism was the right way for Germany, based on his own concept of historicity. But do such statements prove that Heidegger's philosophy is Nazi? No – only that as late as 1936 he meant to find reasons for his Nazi sympathy in his own philosophy.

To investigate whether Heidegger's philosophy is Nazi is not easy, since Nazism as an ideology is really rather pointless. It has an ideological vacuum at its core that one could fill according to its own agenda. Hitler's variant is about nationalism, anti-Bolshevism and anti-Semitism, intertwined with a Darwinian fighting ideology – and for us, Nazism is synonymous with racial persecution, dictatorship, concentration camps, genocide and war. But in the early thirties, these were not historical facts.

Those who seek to find Nazism in Heidegger's philosophy look for recognition of excessive nationalism, the racial primacy of the German people, anti-Bolshevism and anti-Semitism. This has proved difficult – therefore, they often resort to Heidegger's biography and statements, and then interpret quotes from Heidegger's writings in light of these. So is the strategy this time around.

Technology without morals. Heidegger's later philosophy contains criticism of the technical community. IN The question of the technique he emphasizes how man is not master of the technique, but the opposite. In this context, Heidegger comes up with what many believe shows his insensitivity and traces of Nazism: like the fabrication of the hydrogen bomb. ” I have never understood what is Nazi about this statement. It just says that the Holocaust and modern agriculture have the same source, not that they are basically the same. Heidegger does not minimize the moral cruelty of the Holocaust, on the contrary, he maximizes it by viewing it in a wider context. He shows that the same thing can happen again because it is a view of man and nature where everything is an exploitable resource, without regard for morality.

The Jews had a way of being in the world that Heidegger had no sense of: rootless and calculating. He was not, therefore, anti-Semitic of the racist kind, the ending of mass murder.

Hein Berdinesen in his Window contribution makes the final diagnosis on Heidegger: He was too fatalistic! He did not know that we as democratic individuals can reflect on, judge and take responsibility for the larger structures we are a part of. Good to hear – this means that we have soon stopped the climate problem and the ravages of capitalism. No wonder Heidegger saw this.

Volk and Heimat. Article author Donatella Di Cesare introduces a new concept: metaphysical anti-Semitism: The Jewish people have a big blame for being trapped in the technology. Jews are seen as part of the problem, not as the cause itself. It's a way of being in the world that Heidegger had no sense of: rootless and calculating. But the solution is not the End Solution – so if this is anti-Semitism, it is not of the racist kind – the one that ends in mass murder.

Heidegger writes a lot about his letters Volk og Home, as part of a thought tradition with great opposition to the rapid industrialization of Germany from the 1870s onwards. It was thought that people lost their close connections to one another and the sense of belonging to a society, and instead left with formal bodies such as bureaucracy and parliamentary democracy. As a counterweight, people dreamed of their origin, Home, and talked about Volk, völkisch, which refers to the original community.

Although the Nazis were concerned with the German people, is not folk a Nazi term. Its own is not based on race or biology, but on traditions and preferences. The road from here may not be long to racism, but there is no necessary connection.

The fight against positivism – again. Why is Heidegger and Nazism a recurring theme? Hans Hauge's answer is worth looking into: It's about getting rid of something you don't like, which threatens one's own position. He writes: “[t] he criticism of Heidegger's Nazism is a kind of staggered attack on post-structuralism and French theory. It should help remove post-structuralism (Lacan, Derrida, Foucault, Badiou, etc.) and pave the way for neonaturalism, neoposivitivism and cognitivism. ”

In the same window, Esther Oluffa Pedersen criticizes precisely this claim, which she believes stands for a kind of Hegelian developmental history in which different eras replace each other. In addition, she asks who is behind this coveted project of getting rid of post-structuralists through a detonation of Heidegger. The answer is: those who believe that everything is empirical and that there is no difference between the humanities and the natural sciences. This fight against positivism has come back, stronger than ever – because in the meantime, universities have become business enterprises. So yes, someone will discredit Heidegger – because there is something in his criticism that they would rather forget.

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