Notes on Martin Heidegger


Quotation and its Interpretation

"What does 'world' mean, when we speak of the darkening of the world? World is always spiritual world. The animal has no world..., nor any environment....The darkening of the world contains itself a disempowering of the spirit, its dissolution, diminution, suppression, and misinterpretation. We will try to indicate this disempowering of the spirit in one respect, namely, the misinterpretation of the spirit. We said: Europe lies in the pincers between Russia and America, which are metaphysically the same, namely in regard to their world-character and their relation to the spirit. The situation of Europe is all the more dire because the disempowering of the spirit comes from Europe itself and--though prepared by earlier factors--is determined at last by its own spiritual situation in the first half of the nineteenth century. Among us at the time something happened that is all too readily and swiftly characterized as the “collapse of German idealism"."

The key to the quote lies in metaphysics that encompasses the study of Being as a form of its own vaporization. Being presumes nothingness, which really is a logical absurdity. Being grounds reality by one being in the world as Dasein--that is being there--period. Being is not problematic. Why is there something and not nothing? That question initiated the study of philosophy during the time of the pre-Socratic Greeks. Being is there because it is. It needs no first cause as it is self-justificatory.

Philosophy’s questions presumes to understand the facticity of people, ethnographically defined in terms of race, in their history. History is the unfolding or becoming of truth. Heidegger presumed that the German people were, in 1939, the center of a revolution, mainly in language. In particular, Heidegger grounded the German language and its recovery through the purge of its impurities, namely Judeo-Marxism, democracy, and modernism. Heidegger also critiques the positivism of the content of Techne in philosophy, which means applied philosophy to shape the world according to a preconceived idea, or ideologically. America and Russia represented the worst enemies of Das Volk because of their fascination and encapsulation with technology that despiritualized Germany and caused its current crisis in self-identity. Germany had a metaphysical mission to spiritualize Europe, through a purgatory of the sword by the military and the rehabilitation of its language as that of a heroic, poetic people by ridding it of its foreign elements. The way a people relate to their language defines their historic role in the world. Heidegger intended that the German language and great deed would refashion a Europe in its own image. Hence, there is a strong ethnocentric and racist bias in Heidegger’s thought. He believed, in the age of modernity--which he despised--only the German language could define its self to give it a dominant position in the world. Only the German language had the complexity to develop concepts that could transform the value and all its decadent forms of life, namely socialism and materialism.

Who was to be the voice of the German people? Heidegger said that no less than Hitler could effect this revolution--he was the voice of the German language and people and in his will to power expressed the necessary will to power to attain supremacy over lesser cultures, peoples--and races by implication. Heidegger trumpeted loudly His Advent--a god killer of the Judeo- Christian ethic. Heidegger had returned philosophy to rhetoric, art, and poetry to enable a people to hear their destiny. One had to know how to listen. The politician then became an instrument, like a sledge hammer, to reignite historicity in the German Dasein--or their being over the world triumphant. Deutschland ueber alles. Heil Hitler, world war, genocide, and total collapse of Hitler’s artificial construct, based on blood and soil, brought Germans to ruin. One cannot return to an idyllic history of a pure German race when time began.

The ad hominen argument is that if a person like Heidegger has performed miserably in the public sphere as a Nazi, then his philosophy of necessity must be tainted. These philosophers damn the philosophy by attacking bad character. Is that legitimate? I think not. The stinker’s texts achieve autonomy after his death; hence, to another generation, he can be seen in a different light and his arguments must be critically assessed in that new light.

Lecture on Martin Heidegger (1889—1976)

Nota bene: ‘Only in dying can I to some extent say absolutely, “”I am.”’

This quotation is taken from The History of the Concept of Time.

Heidegger writes about the facticity of death in order to destroy the underpinnings of metaphysics, which he thought he accomplished in his writings. Being and Dasein are not exactly coincidental concepts. Being is in the world and what encompasses it in all its facets. Dasein has to do with a person’s being thrown into a world not of his own making.

Ultimately, he thought of Dasein as a Volksgemeinschaft with its own historicity. Heidegger thought that the national consciousness of Germany and its fate was bound up with Hitler and the National Socialist Movement. After the collapse of the Third Reich, he identified its Destiny with the German language as being the only one that speaks the language of ontology.

Heidegger detested the notion of Gesellschaft of modern, industrial society where people are mutually indifferent to each with no ties to blood and soil. He sought that in Gemeinschaft, or the sense, of organic, countryside solidarity, rather than the mechanical mass society where man is hyphenated to Das Man. He demonized the Soviet Union and the United States equally in that he thought that their respective technological mentalities (and superiority) destroyed individuality and the capacity to think Being philosophically. Heidegger did not think that Hitler was radical enough. Heidegger put a premium on tradition and authority. To be able to find truth is to be a revolutionary in thinking, although that truth was buried in the past and had to be excavated. Technology led us to a forgetting our heroic past and a falling away from truth into living trivial existences as mere empirical beings with no common orientation to, or understanding of the greatness inherent in the German nation. The authentic man had to find that opening in Being that led him to the future by uncovering the past and its communal forms.

The reductio ad absurdum of Heidegger is his anti-Semitism. His application of Being and Time’s concepts were the embodiment of all that was alien and evil in the German nation. Particularly, he castigated the Jews as the bearers of the Enlightenment who in their quest for equality sought to level all peoples down to their fallenness by advocating the reasons that led to a commercial and material society. They could never be part of Das Volk because of their racial impurity. Heidegger, hence, was a leading anti-Enlightenment philosopher who was reactionary in that he believed that by blood sacrifices Germany could restore itself to its former glory as the nation above all. Of course, state racism with its public policies of total exclusion led invariably to the genocide of the Jews in the name of goals of the deluded masses who were intoxicated by the omnipotence of thought. There never could be a good Jew, only a dead one.

After the war, Gadamer greeted Heidegger with a pithy question: “Returned from Syracuse?” Of course, this allusion was to Plato’s two trips to Syracuse, Sicily, in his attempt to ingratiate himself to a tyrant who really was not disposed toward being enlightened; neither was Hitler so disposed to be open to new paths in thinking or rethinking ideological notions that indicated deep pathology not only in Der Fuehrer but in all his followers.

Heidegger hated democracy with a passion. In particular, he talked about Das Man, who is the alienated, despiritualized person of modern times. Being, the opposite, is the Being who calls Dasein into existence. That is the meaning of authenticity. He finds himself in the Volksgemeinschaft of the age of heroes in the Teutonic forests. Of course, such a golden age never existed. The person loses himself in the German language, which is the only language in which philosophy can speak, so he can realize himself in an organic unity whereby subject and object diremption are finally overcome. Hitler was not radical enough for Heidegger. Hitler’s fascination with military conquests led him to make concessions to Gesellschaft that conflicted with Heidegger’s more pure German-ness. Gesellschaft by nature is inherently metastable and leads to a situation where the sum of the parts is less than the whole, which is the quintessence of World Alienation whereby man does not have a home in the world.