HEIDEGGER, Martin. Anmerkungen I-V (Schwarze Hefte 1942-1948), Gesamtausgabe 97.
Although the publication of the notebooks belongs to the final stage of the edition of Heidegger's works, with only seven more volumes remaining to appear, they don't contain texts that have been added to the Gesamtausgabe merely for the sake of bibliographic completion. In fact, it is not unlikely that they will come to be treated as a major segment of Heidegger's works, to be studied in its own right, much like, say, his early lectures. They have already generated considerable debate and have led, at least in France and the U.S., to a renewed interest in Heidegger. A significant part of this debate was dedicated to the scandalous remarks he made against the Jews in the notebooks, proving, if that still required proof, his antisemitic stance, which he retained even after his disillusionment with the Nazi regime. For example, in the 1938-41 notebooks he speaks about "the tenacious skilfulness in calculating, hustling, and intermingling through which the worldlessness of Jewry is grounded," blaming "world Jewry" for the groundlessness of modernity.
Such themes are continued in Anmerkungen I-V, which contain notes taken during the later part of the Second World War and the early postwar period (1942-48), with most notes occurring in 1946 through 1948. For example, Heidegger writes around 1942 that during the Christian age (which he equates with metaphysics) Judaism was "the principle of destruction," of the destruction of the completion of metaphysics to be precise, of Marx versus Hegel. He adds: "When the essential 'Jewishness,' in the metaphysical sense, fights against Jewishness, we reach the climax of self-destruction in history." It is difficult not to be appalled by such lines, rare as they are, if we call to mind what was happening to the Jews in 1942 in Europe. Heidegger also discusses, critically, National Socialism, and he speaks of "Hitler's criminal madness." However, by distinguishing Nazism sharply from the German people, and viewing the latter as mere victims of the Nazis (and then of the Allies), he consistently eschews the issue of German guilt, like so many in his generation. A good antidote to Heidegger's attempts at collective exculpation are the diaries of writers such as Victor Klemperer and Denis de Rougemont, testifying to the fanaticism of so many ordinary Germans in the 1930s.
Anmerkungen I-V addresses many other topics of historical-political interest, including Christianity, modernity, liberalism, communism, technology, globalization, secularization, journalism, and higher education. All of these are rejected as phenomena of the current "darkness of the world" (Weltnacht), in which "Being" (or Beyng or Beyng) has been forgotten. Earth itself is now a "straying star." However, for Heidegger, unlike for genuine pessimists such as Emile Cioran, there is hope for mankind. We need to become the "shepherds" or "ploughmen" of Being. Heidegger is dismissive of the decadent present but reverential of the healing character and luminousness of Being, whose solitary prophet Heidegger paints himself as. But how can we actively become such ploughmen, given that the forgetfulness of Being is a necessary development in our history? This difficulty is not addressed. What Heidegger does do, here and generally in his later work, is to try to develop a philosophical language better attuned to Being. Anmerkungen I-V contains countless passages in which this reform is attempted, at times yielding an almost incomprehensible prose that involves notions such as Ratsal, Antrag, Grimm, Enteignis (words that don't exist even in German, in Heidegger's intended sense). They are never really explained but seem to be used with consistency. Perhaps a reading of all the notebooks in chronological order will reveal their meaning. If so, the notebooks will serve as an important source documenting the development of Heidegger's later thought, and not just his perplexing and sometimes scandalous views about the present age.--Edward Kanterian, University of Kent
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|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2018|
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