[lit-ideas] Re: Reading Heidegger after publication of the 'Black Notebooks'

  • From: John McCreery <john.mccreery@xxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx" <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Tue, 17 Feb 2015 08:13:23 +0900

Chris,

I think it was Richard Rorty who observed that, while their politics were 
antithetical, Heidegger and John Dewey's philosophies of language are similar. 
Speaking not just of philosophy but of theory more broadly, Victor Turner 
suggests that it is not the whole of theories that inform the anthropologist's 
insights, but frequently ideas "extracted from the logical sludge" in which we 
find them embedded. He might have added "from the political dreck" as well. 

Suppose we asked the anthropologist's questions, not "Is Heidegger true or 
valid ?" [in some cosmic, universal sense] but rather, "What were the issues to 
which he was speaking?" and "Why do some people  find his solutions 
compelling?" In other words, approach what he says as myth and examine why, not 
everyone, but at least a few other human beings, embrace it?

How might we answer these questions?

John

Sent from my iPad

> On 2015/02/16, at 23:46, cblists@xxxxxxxx wrote:
> 
> For those who want a more nuanced discussion of the publication of 
> Heidegger's 'Black Notebooks' and their relevance in assessing Heidegger's 
> importance as a philosopher I recommend reading the following three articles 
> (from which I quote short excerpts):
> 
> Bernard-Henry Levy's "Why read Heidegger?"
> 
> "The real question [is] not to recall for the umpteenth time that this great 
> philosopher was also a real Nazi.
> 
> "Rather it was to ask what can and should be done today about the living 
> paradox, the terrifying oxymoron, of an individual about whom we cannot even 
> say, as we could about Céline, that he had two separate faces. We cannot do 
> that with Heidegger because in the same works, the same sentences, often the 
> same word, the man appears as a lofty philosopher and as a purveyor of infamy.
> 
> "Should we just forget him? ... Jump at finally having a good reason not to 
> have to struggle with one of the most arduous and complex of contemporary 
> philosophers?
> 
> "I don't think so. ..."
> 
> http://www.huffingtonpost.com/bernardhenri-levy/why-read-heidegger_b_6570986.html
> 
> Jonathan Ree's "In defence of Heidegger: You do not have to admire a 
> philosopher personally to admire his work"
> 
> "I think that those who say that because [Heidegger] was anti-Semitic we 
> should not read his philosophy show a deep ignorance about the whole 
> tradition of writing and reading philosophy. The point about philosophy is 
> not that it offers an anthology of opinions congenial to us, which we can dip 
> into to find illustrations of what you might call greeting card sentiments. 
> Philosophy is about learning to be aware of problems in your own thinking 
> where you might not have suspected them. It offers its readers an 
> intellectual boot camp, where every sentence is a challenge, to be negotiated 
> with care. The greatest philosophers may well be wrong: the point of 
> recognising them as great is not to subordinate yourself to them, but to 
> challenge yourself to work out exactly where they go wrong."
> 
> http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/arts-and-books/in-defence-of-heidegger#.UyMRutxIZbz
> 
> Richard Polt and Gregory Fried in conversation with Thomas Sheehan: "no one 
> can jump over his own shadow"
> 
> "RP & GF: The three volumes of 'Black Notebooks' ... leave no reasonable 
> doubt that Heidegger had anti-Semitic attitudes. And his public statements, 
> even into the 1940s, indicated that he supported ... the Nazi regime and its 
> war efforts. How do you see this affecting his philosophy?
> 
> "TS: Heidegger’s attempt to launder his cultural pessimism and revanchist 
> nationalism through his “metaphysical history” of the downfall of the West is 
> a complete failure and should be recognized as such. This includes, most 
> saliently and infamously, his undeniable anti-Semitism and Nazism.
> 
> "In my opinion, the attempts of Heideggerians to 'explain' his anti-Semitism 
> via exculpatory qualifications (e.g., 'he wasn’t a biological anti-Semite 
> like the Nazis') are abject strategies of avoidance, a desperate refusal to 
> accept the obvious. The question, rather, is whether his deep cultural 
> anti-Semitism, along with his craven allegiance to Hitler, hemorrhage into 
> the core of his philosophy.
> 
> "Some, like the indefatigable but philosophically challenged Emmanuel Faye, 
> insist that Heidegger was a Nazi even before he was born and that from 
> beginning to end his philosophy was nothing but an effort—in Faye’s words—'to 
> introduce Nazism into philosophy.'
> 
> "I argue ... that the essential core of Heidegger’s philosophy was in place 
> by the end of 1930 and that it is in no way tainted by his later Nazism or 
> his abiding anti-Semitism."
> 
> http://www.3ammagazine.com/3am/no-one-can-jump-over-his-own-shadow/
> 
> Chris Bruce,
> in Kiel, Germany
> 
> P.S. Please note that 'recommend reading' is not semantically equivalent to 
> 'agree uncritically with the entire contents of'.
> 
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