Those who pursue Heidegger's silence usually query his motives, and, like Miltonic fallen angels, find "no end, in wand'ring mazes lost" (Paradise Lost, 2.561). For that reason another matter Lang also addresses intrigues me far more: why should one worry about what caused Heidegger's silence? For over two decades the old man himself has known no hermeneutic circles but only infernal or purgatorial ones, as he walks off his wickedness in ghostly temporality. Yet people do care. Especially since the late 1980s, when Victor Farias and Hugo Ott shone spotlights into the depth(s) of Heidegger's Nazism, a flurry of articles and books have created a "Heidegger Case" from biography, politics, a certain Continental style of philosophizing, and the pretensions of philosophy (even, perhaps, of the humanities) as a mode of understanding. Often Heidegger's allies, wielding sophistry, obfuscation, and ad hominem venom, have themselves become problematic examples, willy-nilly, in the "Case" as it snowballs. That is what makes the professional dispute more intriguing than the single figure's actions, for whereas no one knows how to read Heidegger's idiography, beyond its proving the man himself rather odious, the controversy illuminates widespread professional practice. Interesting living philosophers have joined in, among them Heidegger specialists but also Pierre Bourdieu, Jacques Derrida, Jean-Francois Lyotard, Joseph Margolis, Richard Rorty, and now Lang. Heidegger himself "having remained taciturn as to" his own Nazism, "we have had to listen to his struggling expositors."(1) Some of these expositors have felt they owed it to themselves to struggle only sub rosa so as to speak publicly with assurance, or to struggle in full view only to stage their concern for an unachieved, undone project of justice.
Lang and everyone else start from the doubtful legibility of Heidegger's motives, well after his death. Heidegger's increasingly lyric mode of thought, in which words pick out a ground bass over which floats an existential mysterium, makes precise discussion of his politics difficult. Actual political particulars exceeded the notations of history's Herakleitean rhythm, identity-through-flux; and that excess, ineffable as the real, ineffable as the petty, escaped Heidegger. One can of course see why the Nazis' strong program attracted him. Amid the memories of humiliation after 1918, the cosmopolized confusions of the Weimar republic, unemployment after 1929, Heinrich Bruning's autocratic government after 1930--amid all these, the Nazis invoked "blubo" values, those of Blur und Boden, blood and (native) soil. Heidegger, of solemnly, solidly kleine Leute Schwarzwalder stock, was bluboissimus. Virile, Nordic virtues such as resoluteness, sacrifice, taciturnity, and courage were their and his household gods. They and he saw collectivist, agrarian policies as a third, distinctively German way between consumerist capitalism and Bolshevik dogma. The alien spirits of America and Russia had infiltrated Weimar, with a disproportionate number of Jews, so it seemed, among the rich, the Reds, and the irreverent.
Yet Heidegger's Nazi fervor remains deeply underdetermined. What was his take on Nazi practices, among them Nazi racism, where his convictions overlapped less with Hitler's? Heidegger told Karl Lowith that his Nazism sprang from his notion of "historicity," that one must leap into the trajectory one recognizes as true to one's shared past and most "monumental" shared destiny; here too, though, the doctrine hardly entails believing that Hitler incarnated German destiny.(2) At best one can only guess at Heidegger's stance toward Nazi behavior from his philosophy, precisely because they often ran parallel. Heidegger offers "a structural equivalent in the `philosophic' order of the `conservative revolution,' of which Nazism represents another example, produced under other laws of formation."(3) Obscure and emphatic, he triumphed as vox populi by giving oracular voice to common presumptions that the shared "era was fated to be a spiritual wasteland that could be redeemed only by some special event or some very special personage." He spoke to the "nationalism and racism [that] ... were convulsing half of Europe with hysterical ideas," the enemy being what vulgarer Volk symbolized by "the Jewish way of thinking": among youth, Robert Musil recalled, "capitalism and socialism, science, reason, parental authority and presumptuousness, calculation, psychology, and skepticism," all opposed to "the great images of grace.., that suppress the noise of the senses and wet the brow in streams of transcendence," so that "young anti-Semites . . . felt themselves to be most particularly under the sign of an all-embracing love and fellowship."(4)
Much of this is Heidegger throughout his career, as is Musil's older group's devotion not to mere "civilization" and "literature" but to--by definition non-"Jewish"-Kultur: "fields, the men who worked them, little country churches, and that great order of things which God had bound as firmly together as the sheaves on a mown field, an order at once comely, sound, and rewarding" (349). Far from being distinctively Nazi, such widespread notions were not even distinctively Germanic. In the years before World War I, the French too heard
the structuring principles of later visions of the world ...
asserted in all their clarity: the rejection of reason or
intelligence in the name of the heart or of faith leads to an
anti-rationalism or an irrationalism that valorizes
comprehension against explanation, rejects science
and especially social science . . . for its
reductionism, positivism and materialism, exalts
"culture" against the soulless erudition
of the "intellectual technicians" and their file cards, and
aims to restore the national ideal--that is to say, the
classical humanities, Latin and Greek, the pantheon of
French authors and also, on another plane, sports and
In the 1920s and 1930s Hitler demanded "culture" and "virile virtues." He got some "streams of transcendence" to produce hydroelectric power for him, and lodged an ax in each "sheaf" he could, as fasces. However, some of the same streams and "culture," if not the sheaves, also powered the avant-garde Jew Arnold Schonberg's opera Moses und Aron (libretto and music for Acts land 2, 1928-32), for instance, with its fierce caricatures of Weimar this-worldliness. At the same time, the leftist Jew Siegfried Kracauer lamented the rise of science and capitalism, as opposed to a "genuine human community, rooted in Kierkegaard's notion of a religious community and Lukacs's notion of an epoch filled with meaning"--indeed, "much of what Heidegger described in the first section of [Being and Time] corresponded to the metaphysical diagnoses of the times which were undertaken in the philosophy of history by Lukacs, Bloch, Kracauer, and Benjamin."(6) here Heidegger stood vis-a-vis the vein he tapped, the international and not clearly conservative vein, he made it his transcendental, deep-rooted business never to spell out.
For these reasons, it is silly to call Heidegger's philosophy Nazi, though he himself may have danced with Nazism to its harmony. It is also vain to try tracing his real Nazi commitments from his thought. Nazism was a choice for him, not a fate. What elicited that choice? The harpocratic historical record offers little help. Heidegger's most pious apostle--that is, himself--labored to fog over the facts by shoveling a steaming Misthaufen of lies behind the fabled philosophic cabin in Todtnauberg. Whether for his own credit or that of his "thought," Heidegger lied about his Nazi involvement, his actions as Nazi rector of the University of Freiburg (1933-34), his resignation from the rectorship, his freedom under the regime, his treatment by others during and after the Nazi period, his post-war psychotherapy, and so forth. In the face of such disinformation, the laity may wonder at the gall of Heidegger's defenders, who scold Farias for polemics, innuendos, and half-truths. Is too much zeal in exposing the old Nazi really more sinister than so much covering up? For Old Believers and assorted hierophants, the coverup itself deserves homage, as the sacred cause for which one senior researcher found, "Heidegger's literary executors" make "paramilitary assaults on scholarship" with "authoritarian intimidation and threats."(7) Numbers of Heidegger's heirs, loyal to the Master, have embraced the force and fraud implicit in an intellectual Fuhrerprinzip. (I allude to the Fuhrer principle that Heidegger in the early 1930s planned to clamp on German universities, with Martin Heidegger--who else?--as the rightful Fuhrer or Fuhrerlein over all the disciplines of knowledge.)
Despite pious sidetrackings, despite archives guarded like Fafner's loveless Rhenish loot, many facts have emerged into the clearing. In 1971 Hannah Arendt could credibly allude to Heidegger's "brief past in the Nazi movement," but we now know the elasticity of "brief."(8) He kept paying Nazi party dues long after his alleged disaffection with the National Socialist agenda, he denounced at least one colleague to the Gestapo, and in May 1938 the Freiburg Nazi officials vouched for Heidegger as "an exemplary Party member." "At no time," Ott remarks, "did he adopt a position of protest, not even after the Reichskristallnacht of November 1938." In fact, "so far as one could see, there had been no movement in Heidegger's thinking" about National Socialism: "between 1935 and 1942," despite war, devastation, and "crimes against humanity."(9) But what we do not know is Heidegger's blend of motives for acting as he did. Cowardice? Opportunism? Stubbornness? Principle? And if principle, which?
Heidegger's harpocracy has guaranteed that no one knows how to weight the elements that Heidegger saw either in Nazism or in his various roles--the latter included the guardian of aletheia, the foe of idle talk, the patriotic German, the man of dignity, the exemplary preceptor, and the duly honored thinker. No one can locate where Heidegger's continuity of public self is dense, where tenuous. No one can pinpoint on what motives that undivided but manifold self, with multiple investments, acted in given instances. Here is a fact: Heidegger did not condemn the Holocaust as a public man, in contrast to the great ceremony he made of joining the Nazi Party. Nor, as far as we know, did he condemn it in private. Do we need one explanation or two? The answer to that partly depends on his professional deformation, how thoroughly his role of Delphic mouth had enthralled its humble human priest Martin. Ott believes that "it was a premise of Heidegger's thinking that he was not liable to error. That was a risk to which others were exposed, those who did not listen to him, the prophet of Being" (204). On this reading, he queued up with other honored, self-infatuated visionaries in post-Kantian Germanophone culture: had their pioneer, Fichte, not proclaimed himself "the spirit of truth, the paraclete, the third figure in the Trinity"? Their cultural legitimacy rises, in part, from the ancestral, Teutonic strain of Anabaptists, foaming with yeasty Geist.(10)
But culturally-defining delusions of infallibility are only one plausible reason for Heidegger's silence and chicanery. Another, for example, is careerism, through such lasting skills of academia as mean conniving, vendettas, and currying of favor. At none of these was Heidegger a beginner by the 1930s. His onetime assistant Eduard Baumgarten thought of him as "driven not so much by political or ideological passions as by personal pettiness, more than usual vanity, and a desire for philosophical glory."(11) Credibly so, again; but not surely, especially given Baumgarten's sense of mischief and his rocky relations with the vainglorious Heidegger. Moreover, since Heidegger either suppressed or distorted the personal, almost certainly to himself as to others, one cannot assume consistency in his motives, any more than expect truth in his allegations of fact. One cannot count on extrapolating, that is, even from the spotty, shaky clump of evidence we have. How does one insure that a hermeneutic circle funnels inquiry into an oubliette? Paradoxically, by perforating it with blowholes, loopholes, flues, rat burrows, rookeries, furrows, and dark gutters.
Lang freely acknowledges "the problem of ambiguity that confronts any interpretation of silence" (15), a fortiori this one. He deals with it largely by refusing to explore even those options he mentions (e.g., 29-30), proposing instead that the centrality of the Volk in Heidegger's thought blinded him to the Jewish Question and its Endlosung, its "final solution." One passes here from the person Heidegger to Heideggerianism and its avatar. That is, Lang seems to accept the possibility of a counterfactual, logical argument: no matter what other motives Heidegger did have, this one would have kept him silent. Such a strategy turns Heidegger against himself. What Heidegger himself took as a subsumption of beings (existent things) beneath Being (the conditions that allow beings to show themselves), then, actually became a foreclosure: by the way he misdefined Being, many beings were excluded. In this case those beings are "the jews," as Lyotard calls them, those defined by their alienability,(12) Thus Heidegger's "denials of the Jewish Question and the `Jewish Question'" in particular "do not require or presuppose" antisemitism, though they have a "willing consistency" with it (82). Lang concludes, and I agree, that "the verdict of a divided self, between Heidegger's political or public pronouncements and his philosophical work, is contradicted by the weight of evidence" (85). Even before his "swerve" (Kehre), when Heidegger was occupied with an existential phenomenology, the terms in which he envisioned Dasein--those of temporality, authenticity, and "resoluteness" (Being and Time, 2.2)--recur as those modalities that Hans Jonas thought he later invoked in favor of Nazism (MHNS, 201-3).
The Heidegger that Lang postulates, then, tacitly employs what he loudly deplores in others, a ruthless framing (Heidegger's Ge-stell) so as to achieve a world-picture that a German, Greek-reading philosopher of Being can dominate as his domain. Lang's strategy of tu quoque to Heidegger himself, if borne out, might finesse "the problem of ambiguity." Of course it would do so as a hermeneutic invitation: look at the "Jewish Question" to get a new purchase on the Heidegger Question, i.e., how can an apparently unregenerate Nazi's thought live within the practice of philosophy? More generally for heuristic purposes, one should surely study what an important philosopher's thought implies. Prior to this kind of investigation, though, lie a pair of propositions, the first as to verification, the second as to significance. That is, one would show that Heidegger's philosophy was in fact so Volk-oriented as effectively to dim the visibility of Jews and "jews" as human. Then one would show that it is important to know what was integral to Heidegger's own early-and-mid-twentieth-century philosophical practice rather than what seems integral to Heideggerian styles of thinking. God was integral to Descartes's own practice, say, but has not been necessary for much Cartesian thought. Why address the Heidegger Question other than empirically, by surveying others' use of his work? Neither proposition seems to fall within Lang's ambit.
Their exclusion intensifies a more serious problem, his ascribing causal force to his heuristic assumption. From finding a defect in Heidegger's philosophy, Lang's proposal passes to a recognized style of, so to speak, gerundive argument. Heidegger's philosophy channeled his behavior with implicit musts and oughts, so that in practice Heideg-gerundive could no longer, for example, detect evil, heed victims' agonies, or judge the horror of genocide. My examples are not chosen at random. The gerundive argument underlies Charles Taylor's shameless plea that Hitler "blindside[d]" Heidegger: with "no place for the retrieval of evil in his system ... he could never get a moral grasp on the significance of what happened between 1933 and 1945."(13) John Caputo offers a far more telling, damning argument, that in subsuming all phenomena into the history of Being, the annihilation of things in their essential natures, Heidegger anesthetizes his thinking "before unspeakable suffering, deaf to the cries of the victim." This, Caputo says, "is a Greek world or, more accurately, a world of Greeks invented by Germans" where "the only ethos permitted is a more essential, originary ethos, an early Greek poetic ethos, which dictates a more poetic mode of dwelling on the earth." It witnesses "only the epochal shifts which have fallen into an escalating history of oblivion from eidos to Technik."(14) Like Lang, Caputo sees Heidegger as captive to his own faulty creation. So, no doubt, he was. Is that all one needs to say?
Gerundive hypotheses with causal force do not work as likely reconstructions of Heidegger's (or anyone else's) motives. First, they corset his life in his philosophy, as though he never spoke, wrote letters, reacted to the news, or otherwise made public his attitudes as citizen. We know that he did. Second, they take him at his word in removing him from the marketplace of ideas, as though he did not care about his career and reception. Again, we know that he did. He and his gerundive explainers alike become untrue to his own preachments in plucking him from the Being that grounded his thought: the culture in which he worked. Third, gerundive arguments arbitrarily exclude those forms in which Heidegger could take official, philosophical notice of that to which his philosophy supposedly blinded him. Pace Caputo, Sophocles and Euripides quite amply showed how pre-Socratic Greeks might listen to suffering victims. As to Lang's argument, volkisch tunnel-vision did not block out the Jews' murder. Nazism featured Germans' promoting group-think, using slave labor, practicing mass slaughter, and exalting the will to power. Heidegger's "meditations on the technological reduction of human beings to mere stockpiles [and] on the upsurgence of evil and malignancy in the wake of the departed gods ... remain[ed] fundamentally incomplete" in failing "to confront the Extermination," so that his silence "betrays and belittles the matter of his thinking, which he claimed to be his sole concern."(15) In addition, Lyotard's question remains: how could Heidegger's thought, "so devoted to remembering that a forgetting (of Being) takes place in all thought," have suppressed and foreclosed the attempt to make Europeans forget the population that reminds them of alterity, of alienability (4)? In still keeping still, keeping still for three post-War decades, then, Professor Heidegger was untrue, not only true to Prophet Heidegger. The gerundive argument, identifying thought with action, depends on his having been self-consistent; and that, he was not.
What might have kept Heidegger silent? Lang implies that the answer comes from one of two possibilities, personal motives--anti-Semitism--and a defect in his thought, its focus on the Volk. Thus his twenty pages defining the quality of Heidegger's anti-Semitism end by considering an actual causal chain, not a possibly counterfactual, logical one. "If his antisemitism was an expression only of personal taste," Lang writes, "it would be distinguishable from his `serious' thinking" (79). This would matter only if taste and "`serious' thinking" were clearly the salient alternatives. On the contrary, many scenarios as plausible as Lang's present themselves, for none of which Heidegger's degree of "antisemitism" makes much difference. I have pointed to some, but here are four more, mutually compatible. Since the truth of Heidegger's silence is hidden, these are--like Lang's--simply scenarios, not revelations. I suggest, however, that they address questions that Heidegger's Silence hushes. Heidegger may have had just the volkisch commitments that Lang so exactly traces and yet never have spoken about the Jews because, for instance:
(a) He wanted to create and maintain a philosophic image. Heidegger aimed, like much "German ideology" after World War I, at "the higher realm of self-perfection (Bildung)," not "the lower realm of human affairs, sordid with practical matters and compromises."(16) "All must know who wish to concern themselves with philosophy," he said in 1935, that "all philosophical questioning is essentially not timely," and "can never find an immediate echo in the present." Any philosophy that "becomes fashionable" is either false or "misinterpreted and misused for ephemeral and extraneous purposes."(17) Bildung is basic to Heidegger's thought. So is holism, Lowith's rationale for Germans' habit of being "radical in their ideas and indifferent in everything actual." As he explained, "They somehow manage to ignore all individual facts in order to hold on to their concept of the whole all the more resolutely" (MHNS, 159). One again thinks of Musil, ruminating that in times whose spirit resembles the marketplace, poets thrive who "do not besmirch themselves with" contemporary thoughts "but supply only pure poetry, as it were, addressing their faithful in obsolete idioms on great subjects, as though they were just returning from eternity to an earthly way station" (1:441). As the trading pit earths itself lower, the dome above it must seem to soar more loftily; and Heidegger's professional career from Being and Time (1927) to, say, "The End of Philosophy and the Task of Thinking" (1969) apparently obeys this reciprocal role. So, indeed, does his Nazi ardor: Heinrich Himmler, describing his SS-men and so the recruitment pool for them in 1937, boasted of their lack of interest in "everyday problems" and their dedication to "ideological questions of importance for decades and centuries, so that the man ... knows he is working for a great task which occurs but once in 2,000 years" (Arendt, O, 316). Having ignored the Jewish Question, then, in disdain for the throng's sociological ado, Heidegger ignored the "Jewish Question" for similar reasons. The age's debasement drove him, the sublime thinker, far above it. For him, "above" also meant "before": "that thinking which thinks the truth of Being as the primordial element of man ... is itself the original ethics. However, this thinking is not ethics in the first instance, because it is ontology."(18)
(b) He did not want to tread on influential toes. According to this hypothesis, Heidegger said nothing on the Jewish Question because he had Jewish academic colleagues and students. He avoided "direct reference to the Jews" in any philosophical writing (Lang, 35-36). He then said nothing on the "Jewish Question" because outside academia he wished to appear as stalwart, free from any hint of currying favor, and serene despite the world's blind buffetings. Can the prophet of salvation heed his all-too-human accusers' reproach? A millenarian bent let him hail Hitler in the 1930s; it led him in the 1960s to announce that "the only possibility of salvation left to us is to prepare readiness ... for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god during the decline" (MHN, 57). Every good millenarian knows that before heaven breaks loose, all hell breaks loose: when one gestures toward this world's evils, the blood-red comets or motorized agriculture or murder, one in part shows propitious harbingers Since this gesture invites laypersons' misunderstanding, prophets may well prefer a flick of the eye to whistling and wigwagging.
(c) He had a public stature to care for. In the 1920s and 1930s Heidegger was too busy establishing his philosophical credentials and predominance to pronounce Truth about the Jewish Question. He had been too politically scalded by 1945 to risk addressing the "Jewish Question." For the last two decades of his life, anyhow, he saw that German "antirational thought ha[d] never recovered from its involvement with and instrumentalization by Nazism," so that "whenever German thinkers after `the War'... had an option, they ... favored the more rationalist alternative."(19) What folly, then, for Heidegger to remind Germans of his old Nazism! and how needless to placate old foes like the French, who fawned upon him! Besides, any public comments he made would "have inevitably been distorted and misunderstood in a fashion not very dissimilar to the way in which Being and Time itself was distorted and misunderstood by Sartre, at the behest of Die Diktatur der Offentlichkeit," the public sphere as Dictator(20) could he risk that? How could he assess the texture of his readers' loyalties, hence the effect of what he might say? He knew that his "books, whose meaning was barely decipherable when they appeared, were devoured. And the young German soldiers in the Second World War who died somewhere in Russia or Africa with the writings of Heidegger and Holderlin in their knapsacks can never be counted."(21) Other young Germans must have survived with those writings. Heidegger had built his mass reputation on telling people what they wanted to hear, that the deepest philosophical vision confirmed their anti-modern, antimechanistic, anti-cosmopolitan, anti-skeptical, antibourgeois feelings. He gave "philosophical seriousness, professorial respectability, to the love affair with unreason ... that dominated so many Germans, . . . Heidegger aroused in his readers obscure feelings of assent, of rightness," and of resonance (Gay, 82). Was he to risk the loss of his constituency now? But what did they now want to hear? Did Heidegger imagine that it was his Nazism that entranced them or simply his "jargon of authenticity" (Eigentlichkeit), a self-confirming, desocialized assertion of one's own essence (eigen)?(22) Since Eigentlichkeit suited Heidegger as well as Hitler, but also many who despised them both, what might his post-war audience, including onetime idolators, be? Caution told him to join his colleagues in silence: "An entire society had devoted itself to the task of forgetting, and the philosophers were only too willing to participate in the communal act of erasure."(23)
(d) He had mixed or muddled feelings about what constituted a "Jew." On this reading, Heidegger did not see why he should address the touchy subject of Jews at all, especially because like many other anti-bourgeois intellectuals he despised "the philosemitism of the liberals" at the time (Arendt, O, 335). Instead of such facile approval, anyhow, might the Jews not attain the tragic, self-realizing stature that Heidegger's grandiose version of Greek and German history records, and that forms the destiny he thought we should embrace? If a reasonable answer to the Jewish Question before Nazism was assimilation, think of the three million German-speaking young men, Jews among them, who gave their lives for Deutschtum (Germanity) in World War I. But suppose the answer was non-assimilation, as anti-Semites insisted. Then, with this precedent of sacrifice being renewed in another great war, might homeless, therefore inauthentic peoples like Jews and gypsies not attain some authenticity, some real value, exactly and only through a suffering that affirms their otherwise tenuous, evadable racial (volkisch) being? One no longer has a "Jewish Question" about which Heidegger needs to speak. Theodor Adorno detects an allusion to "the everlasting Jew" (der ewige Jude; in English, the Wandering Jew) in the deracinated intellectual of Being and Time;(24) one recalls that for that mythic Jew, death was redemption and redemption, death. In the grip of world techno-nihilism, the tortured, slaughtered Jews confronted their "collective karma," just as will the rest of "us," who, living on what is "no longer an earth," are caught "by something that they are not themselves and that they themselves cannot control" (Heidegger, MHNS, 55, 57).(25)
I suggest that (a), (b), (c), and (d), all of them different, fit with Heidegger's work and/or the image-creation necessary to promote that work at least as credibly as does Lang's volkisch argument. If so, Lang's argument has no cogent empirical import. None of my four alternatives to Lang postulates a "divided self" in Heidegger, but their implications vary from each other and from Lang's hypothesis. Each improves on Lang's, moreover, in three ways, first in suggesting a specific historical rationale for Heidegger's silence, second in reminding one that any such rationales exist within social contexts of production and reception, and third in insisting that Heidegger's silence resulted from a decision, in (b) and (c) particularly a decision as to risk. Each restores Heidegger's embedding in a historical situation, which Lang arbitrarily narrows. A fifth hypothesis, perhaps, which might accompany (d), speaks better than (a)-(c) to another point that one would have thought within Lang's purview, the cultural import of "Jew" for Heidegger:
(e) Since the Jewish Question was as least as much cultural as racial for Heidegger, he thought that the "Jews" and "jews" won the war. All Europe, he believed, had fallen into alterity from itself. "Homelessness"--"the symptom of oblivion of Being"--had become "the destiny of the world." Bereft of the "dimension" of "the holy" (heilig) and "spiritual health" (Hell), "this world-epoch" suffered perhaps its unique disaster (Unheil).(26) During Weimar, Heidegger had used the ballot to speak about "Jews" and "jews," making his political choices more and more openly volkisch the more that "Jewish" cosmopolitanism floundered and foundered. Yet for him both messianic Hitlerism and the post-War Germany of Ludwig Erhard's "economic miracle" turned out to be a continuation of Weimar. They bewhored themselves to technocracy, to empty display, and to means-and-ends. In short, for Heidegger, brutal anti-Semitism followed by the commandments of the market solved the cultural Jewish Question by converting Germany to cultural Judaism. Six million human beings, racial Jews, had been shot to death, beaten to death, starved to death, burnt to death, gassed to death--and in that very process they unwittingly achieved the cultural conquest of their assassins, who for Heidegger should have borne the soul, the Lebenseele, of German Kultur.(27) What then could the sorrowful seer of Todtnauberg have written or said, except tell so inflammatory a truth that all propriety would recoil from it? Was he, true spokesman for the Volk, to renew the fractious snarlings and snappings that tore at Deutschtum right after World War I? No, though calls and calumnies might rain upon his loyal old brow, he would labor on, dignified, silent, and monastic like his namesake the saint (Heiliger). Only insofar as others' chance for Hell might languish in a fallen age, would the voice of Martin the redeemer (Heiland) pronounce for Being, Wholeness, Truth, and the proto-Germans of pre-Socratic Greece.
Options (a)-(e) show that Lang's thesis unjustifiedly excludes several prima facie attractive lines of argument. Options (d) and (e) suggest that even as logic--if volkisch, then blind to Jews--his thesis is also unconvincing. Why does Lang proffer it? Beyond some resultant question-begging convenience, what agenda makes Lang's the best argument for him? If it is as partial and speculative as I have argued it is, what is its appeal to readers, save those who wish to see Heidegger and his thought shrunk to each other's circuit and debunked? These issues, of course, Lang does not raise about his own book. He does, however, explore related issues about others' scholarship. His last chapter, "Heidegger and the Very Thought of Philosophy," examines "the reasons behind the large and continuing interest raised by the `Heidegger Question' itself" (90). I agree with Lang's judgment that "neither singly nor together do the conceptual issues raised by [Heidegger's] conduct or the consideration of [philosophers'] professional affinity, seem by themselves adequate to account for the fascination" the "Heidegger Question" arouses (92). Lang accounts for the fascination in quasi-aesthetic terms. Not only are such terms likely to appeal to those who in the first place read Heidegger, the specifics Lang stresses also have a Heideggerian ring: "vicarious experience" and "a sense of immediacy," with "a combination of contingency and irrevocability" sound the Heideggerian motifs of world-disclosing art, thrownness and historicity, and resoluteness before destiny. We have the aged oracle's choice of life miming the artwork, with a delphic justice that he himself recognized, if he did, too late. Like an artwork, the "Heidegger Question" promises transcendent meaning that is confirmed by those who accept the promissory note at its claim to value.
Since Heidegger's measure of things inflated art to truth, we may carry transcendence still further here. Nazism's ungraspable evil and dismaying banality seem to compose a creation for which we lack an adequate Logos. As with art, imagination seeks embodiments, answerable voices, so as to be able to believe the abstract or complex object, to realize it concretely. "In its biblical context," writes Elaine Scarry, "`to believe' is to perpetuate the imagined object" over stretches of time.(28) One imaginable body that substantiates and focuses the past here is Martin Heidegger as vivid token-of-a-type. He becomes a historical exemplar, profound, sleazy, influential, enigmatic, caught up and inculpated, as well as self-caricatural, a "peasant mandarin"(29) come to rule: tragicomic Oidi-nous Turannos, Swellhead the Tyrant. His "Question" therefore, like that of Oedipus, "bring[s] to light with a singular, ruthless passion for knowledge"--knowledge of a blinding sort---"the concealed failure which lies upon its own. . . way."(30) Many happily view it as an answer to their desire for a representative, a kernel of allegory in a nutshell. Philosophy, History, Thought, Politics, and the Ontic and the Ontological collide in Heidegger's Nazism if he can be made to stand for them.
He even does so with his own reverent encouragement. Like the Nazis' two favorite dead philosophers, Fichte and Nietzsche, Heidegger allows the self to balloon into allegorical promise. Thence the Heidegger Question, I propose, is the aesthesis of the piquant masquerading as an invitation to epiphany. Though the abstract counters (capital-P Philosophy? big-H History?) are themselves vacuous, their vacuity allures people given to that sort of verbiage into wonderful zeal about filling them. It is a bonus that Heidegger's actions--habits of mind, motives, habits of behavior, strategies, tactics, pronouncements, and the like--yield no clear system for spatializing and mapping them onto the clashing abstractions they supposedly illustrate. Yet under the enigma-solving mask of Oedipus, the hollow of the Heidegger Question is much more like the echoing, guano-caked caves in A Passage to India, which entice and delude, once penetrated, with apparently potent messages. Forster afforded spelunking British bourgeoises far from home the foreign but familiar "truths," the mystical or erotic shocks, they unwillingly craved. Philosophers must deserve as much, mustn't they?
A couple of lessons might therefore emerge from the "Heidegger Question." If its charms derive from its users, we should stop looking for its single rationale, such as art-likeness or will to allegory. None alone explains its fascination. Among many philosophers, for example, the "Heidegger Question" has a topical status, rather like the mind-body problem or Zeno's Paradox. Among others, including the most incisive, its urgency is situational. Derrida reproved Farias while still panting from his forced dance to exorcise a crypto-Nazi demon from the corpse of Paul de Man. When research revealed the wartime opportunism of his Yale viceroy d'outremer, Derrida found that a de Man at his side had evolved into a monkey on his back: his cultural foes hailed a pretext for flaying "French theory" in America. The departed Heidegger's far deeper evils might equally serve as a European pretext. Derrida had to supply the words that Heidegger, faithful to Harpocrates, withheld. Arguing within situational constraints, then, he tried to rescue the Heidegger his own work needed. This was the later Heidegger who shepherded Language as the House of Being, the Heidegger too who renounced or demoted the instrumental, thus allowing for the "pure," absolute ethic of connection and responsibility Derrida espouses, close to that of Emmanuel Levinas. The blame for Nazism was shunted to the earlier Heidegger; and the "horrible, perhaps inexcusable silence" of the later Heidegger, which wounded the thinking he glorified (MHNS, 147), validates his having heirs who can bring that thinking to reparative completion.(31)
By contrast with Derrida, Richard Rorty allies himself with the earlier, pragmatic Heidegger. The later Heidegger, Rorty thinks, defected to essentialism, an error of thought that s(t)imulated moral error and set, for Rorty, a Bad Example: "his refusal to take much interest in the Holocaust typifies the urge to look beneath or behind the narrative of the West for the essence of the West."(32) Lyotard is less impious than Rorty, registering angst that "the greatest thought can lend itself, as such, to the greatest horror" (57).(33) As I understand Lyotard, Heidegger in his silence speaks to the conflict between originary myths of Being and the occluded Law that substitutes for absent but needed ontological foundations. For Lyotard, Rorty, and Derrida, and maybe for Lang, the Heidegger Case at least in part fascinates because it lends itself to mobilization. Each of them, with different ends, makes the Case's presence-to-hand, Vorhandenheit, his own prosthesis, a readiness-to-hand in parade uniform. Plainly, the same holds for another group, uninteresting and far less reputable, the willingly diverted who can gossip virtuously about the "Heidegger Question" in lieu of reading Heidegger, which takes (and rewards) work.
And the second lesson of the "Heidegger Question"? Lang muses how Heidegger's blindness to the Jewish Questions affects our "global" estimate of his importance. He notes that "the most important of his students have not themselves become or remained `Heideggerians,' nor have those students who remain Heideggerians found in him a means for critical development like that engendered by other figures in the history of philosophy"--Lang cites Plato and Kant, even (to my surprise) Berkeley and Herder (98). I doubt, though, that indebtedness to Heidegger differs in kind from indebtedness to either of the two most recent figures of similar magnitude, Nietzsche and Wittgenstein. Nietzsche and Wittgenstein have their expositors, but few important philosophers have remained "Nietzschean" (Gilles Deleuze?) or Wittgensteinian (Stanley Cavell? Donald Davidson?). Differences in critical development among "Nietzscheans," "Wittgensteinians," and "Heideggerians," I suspect, stem more from the reverence Heidegger demanded than from his stature. Clearly, profound effects radiate from someone to whom "most of the leading [continental] thinkers in the humanities and social sciences ... acknowledge a debt," someone with a "peculiar range of... influence."(34) Through Jean-Paul Sartre, Maurice Merleau Ponty, Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, Michel Foucault, Luce Irigaray, Derrida, Bourdieu, Lyotard, and Rorty--and not only them--Heidegger's thought has powerfully inflected contemporary American "theory." Under these circumstances, I would think, Heidegger's influence extends past "students and successors" to a "continuing power of philosophical illumination" (Lang, 97), with the notion of "philosophical" itself enlarged in a heideggerly manner.
Why then ask about a global estimate of Heidegger's importance, let alone mull over his proper asking price on the philosophic NASDAQ? For curricular decisions? Surely those are clear. For conference planning? Editorial guidance? As a party game or hot-stove-league chit-chat? As a posthumous penalty for Heidegger's own "forgetting" what Farias, Ott, and now Lang sturdily refuse to unremember? If Lang means one should not bother studying Heidegger, he has more argument ahead of him than he can muster. If he means one should read Heidegger warily, never accepting the cachet of authority, any name could replace Heidegger's. Therefore, the very idea of global estimates, absent some specific reason for one, has no cash value. It smells of eristics, not utility. And eristically, would we not do better without the holism, let alone the cult of personality, it presumes? To dispute Heidegger's place in global terms cooperates with an only too familiar hagiometry, in which the imagined unicity of the Great Man lends itself to exemplary allegory, turning back on an imagined "us." Once one asks if Heidegger--or Plato or Kant or Herder--might possibly be a Great Man, that is, one invites devout disciples, votaries, and celebrants to cluster.(36) Thus the idea of Heidegger the Master has led to the deceit and stonewalling about his career and perhaps led to Heidegger's own silence about Nazi murders. I share not only Lang's distaste for Heidegger's adorers but also his desire to show the hazards of Volk-infatuation. Its current infectious form in America, "identity politics," keeps developing immunity to all pointed or pungent apotropaics. Volkisch jingoism pervades Europe in the 1990s. Now, as in the easily remembered past, Heidegger's past, however, to accept the legitimacy of Great Men risks strengthening Volk-belief, and vice versa, rather than curing people of it.
For Heidegger in particular, I would argue, a global appraisal misleads one. That is because the figure "Heidegger" is threefold, corresponding to aspects of the historical Heidegger's developing project. Each has also had an afterlife with a somewhat different clientele. Of the three parts, two correspond to the modes Rorty sets out in roughly distinguishing "edifying" from "systematic" philosophy. Edifying wrecks edifices: the "edifying" Heidegger helps one "break free from outworn vocabularies and attitudes, rather than provide `grounding' for the intuitions and customs of the present."(37) Heidegger One is of local importance. Heidegger Two, "systematic" Heidegger, longs to be for the ages. On the lot that "edifying" Heidegger's razing has made vacant, Heidegger Two builds, salvaging for reuse from the heaps of scrap. Nazism, I should think, does not seriously infect what these workmen do. This pair of Heideggers, however, appears only to some readers, professionals versed in Plato and Aristotle, some Church Fathers, and continental philosophy from Kant through Husserl. Typically, given their international philosophical capital, they read these Heideggers from the "Jewish" standpoint of Zivilisation, cosmopolitan culturedness, rather than Kultur. This fact helps account for the great sway Heidegger has had outside Germany. His most distinguished readers are "civilized" foreigners who reject the bulk of the Volk ethos vital to him.
Perhaps the greatest value of paying attention to Heidegger's Nazism and silence is to remind everyone of the mystical German loam within which the historical Heidegger had taproots, as Lang and others insist. This Heidegger, Heidegger Three, appears to readers versed in the line of Volk, Land, gods, sky, soil, and the Teutonic, "Aryan" soul. Kultur commandeers Zivilisation for Heidegger Three, who consecrated himself to doing in one field what Heidegger One undoes in another, "grounding" different "intuitions and customs of the present." As Heideggers One and Two cooperate in an act of replacement, so do One and Three. Specifically, for the usual German ways of doing philosophy, Heidegger Three substituted something else, something more definitely German and more directly therapeutic--not therapeutic in the manner of the later Wittgenstein, however. He most simply used philosophical means to legitimate a set of attitudes, including skepticism about philosophical thought, pandemic in Germanophone Kultur in the first third of this century. "The cash value of" a practical understanding of any thing, presumably here as elsewhere for Heidegger, "is the use the thing has within the shared equipmental context for which it was made and in which it is made to function."(38) A wonderfully original philosopher as Two, Heidegger as Three strove to ground his Volk-derived, originary vision in the communal. Though both merge in the "shared equipmental context" for which he made his work, they may not merge in late twentieth-century use.
Heidegger's therapy, moreover, tried to coax a kind of racial memory from Germans, a Volk privileged in their language and Kultur. If these shaped their institutions and inspired their leaders, then would arise a mutuality of charisma and social forms, such as the liberal humanist Max Weber had despaired of seeing. Heidegger Three parallels the poet in using modes of representation for the sake of building a monument, so to speak, which expresses a historical folk's web of relationships. The poet or philosopher, bearer of charisma, melts like a Homeric hero into his organic function within the collectivity; from the organic quality of the collectivity, a hierarchy of social forms becomes natural, a body rather than an iron cage. Heidegger's hopes for this quasi-Fichtean ideal collapsed: under Hitler, then Konrad Adenauer, "the German nation" would not be "for the human species what the scholarly class is for a given society, the agent of freedom creating a rational social and political order" through a Volk with the "sacred duty to coerce others."(39) Thus he returned to charisma in its historically transmissible mode, "inspired" poetry, and the social forms such poetry had adopted with the "Romantic" lyric. From Fichte (1762-1814) he moved to Fichte's pupil Friedrich Holderlin (1770-1843) and his apparatus of Greek gods, silvery clouds, the dark earth's blossoms, and suchlike. That is, Heidegger's Kehre swerved him skyward, godward, only to represent the delinquent, distracted Volk as shepherd of Being; and Being trooped visibly through the premodern cultural history of that same Volk. Hence we get Heidegger's peculiar mixture of humility and supreme self-confidence as prophet. Some may respect his felt duty toward the collectivity, hearing through the sylvan scenes the ethereal tones of Holderlin's muse Diotima. Others, more pleased with Modernity, will imagine his muse as Emma Bovary in lederhosen. In either case, the concerns of Heidegger Three fed his Nazism. His philosophical analyses, de- or constructive, let it be set aside.
Any "global appraisal" of Heidegger as an antiphilosopher of sorts, or a heterodox philosophic builder, then, differs radically from that of Heidegger as an orthodox cultural spokesman and therapist. Making such a single appraisal runs afoul of a version of Lang's point, that in his own terms, Heidegger produced philosophy never untanglable, biographically, from his politics; and Lang should certainly be well aware of Heidegger Three, given the thesis of this book. Compare, for example, his leftist coeval Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), in some ways a three-penny Heidegger, with a class rather than an ethnic Volk at the base of his anti-bourgeois, illiberal, anti-capitalist, utopian state collectivism. Surely one tears Brecht from his own history, unbrechtianly, if one tries to appraise him without acknowledging his personally and conceptually connected, but also conceptually discriminable triple roles as theorist and practitioner of estrangement (Verfremdung), as creator of plays, and as Marxist-Leninist agit-prop DDR didact. So with Heidegger, for whose thought one's historicity was so central. From what solar vantage of our own could we globally assess the three different orbits and momentums of Heidegger's motion, even knowing that those orbits share a single focus in time-space? How ought we to raise the Heidegger Question without arbitrarily deciding which fold he may have been shepherding?
One can avoid some perils of both hero worship--individual or collective hero--and of narrowly disciplinary, unhistorical outlooks. Helpful here are Heidegger's terms Gegenstand, an object one confronts, and Bestand, a reserve or storehouse for piecemeal use. A Gegenstand calls for contemplative seeing, letting it disclose its world. By the very fact that it has its world, its environment, it will disclose something partial, aspectual, and indelibly historical; but that disclosure, for Heidegger, allows a being (seiende) to refer to Being, as for Heidegger it should--only a deplorable libido dominandi reverses this, using Being (knowingly or not) as a means and beings as an end.(40) One can regard Heidegger's oeuvre or texts within it that way, as one can read their contemporaries the Battle of the Marne, Anything Goes, or the career of the Model T that way. Each of these is a historical presence in which its multiple contexts converge. In its particularity, it is emergent from (not merely a product of) those contexts, which it helps fully define. Value for each viewer resides in the object as a mode of information, of making manifest, of seeing-as. How any philosopher composed, used, and intended his philosophy is integral to it as Gegenstand.
Still, I would insist against Heidegger, to regard an object as Gegenstand should be facultative rather than obligatory, even in principle--that is how one avoids system-making and "organicism," those means of foreclosure. (Obviously in practice, objects are used as they come in handy, no matter what purists prefer.) One not only can, then, but should also and equally regard Heidegger's or the other oeuvres I listed as a Bestand, an organized repository of materials one can redeploy. Then one adopts or adapts what serves one's own ends, whatever its original ends may have been. Though philosophers may produce systems, one can acquire their inventory as open stock or convert it to that. Treating writers as miscellaneous vendors, from whose shops we pick and choose, lessens the risk of our entering some Weberian cycle of routine and charisma. It allows one to scrap both the kowtow and its surly doppelganger, the so-called hermeneutics of suspicion. By recognizing us as users of philosophy, it locates us as consumers, the very types of dis- and reaggregation, with a practice that comprises not "clear coherent cultural imperatives, but often partially connected, partially formulated, and quite contradictory sources of value and desire."(41)
Global estimates seem superfluous for a Gegenstand, unless some occasional use crops up for them: for instance, how long an entry does Heidegger get in an encyclopedia? One hardly needs them for a Bestand, which one uses non-globally. Heidegger's work is a fact that is differently factical (meaningful); it is a resource that one sometimes needs. At least I do, rummaging in his books to think about what he thought about, such as spatiality or Weltbilder, as arranged through his irksome, indispensable idiolect. For ethical thought, I turn to other H's perhaps--Jurgen Habermas, Gilbert Harman, Agnes Heller, David Hume. There I may discover that I can grasp ethical ideas better because I know my way around in "issues without which specific ethical matters," in much modern opinion, are "unintelligible." These include--no matter whether I endorse, scorn, or pick among them--such Heideggerian themes as "the intractability of will-to-power, ... narcissistic culture, the failure of foundationalism, [and] a philosophy of `dwelling.'"(42) I can use such themes in those modes of understanding that the later, absolutist Heidegger chose so resolutely to ignore, phronesis and Praxis.(43)
Reasons abound to be fascinated by Heidegger's speech, to welcome anything we can know about it. But now and perhaps forever we know next to nothing as to why he kept quiet about genocide. One can inquire, as Jane Austen's Henry Tilney explains to the ingenue Catherine Morland, "What is the inducement most likely to act upon ... a person's feelings, age, situation, and probable habits of life considered?" (Northanger Abbey, ch. 16). Yet as my alternatives (a)-(e) suggest, the more one asks that question (as Lang does not), the harder it is to pin down Heidegger's motives. Why and how, then, should anybody be other than curious (cf. Being and Time 2.5.36) about his silence? It is far more pleasant to reflect that from Heidegger's ingredients, one might brew a deflationary cure for Heidegger's bloat, his itch for a Fuhrerprinzip, his pining for authenticity, his blubo goosestep, and his deadly totalizing. I mean the cure of shrewd consumerism. By flipping on to its side the hierarchy, Gegenstand above and Bestand below (or the expression of Volk-dwelling above, and of the restless, rootless "Jewish mind" below), or more generally by welcoming much of how Heidegger describes human being-in-the-world and little of how he sets values within that world, one can repragmatize him for one's personal being-in-the-world. With such a choice, even the reader who decided (willfully, I think) to buy Lang's verdict of Volkblindedness could still also live easily with a version of Rorty's, that Heidegger is at most accidentally Nazi. I do not mean the Messkircher (1889-1976), gullible and corrupted, but the textual, usable assemblage he bequeathed us.
(1.) Robert Denoon Cumming, The Dream is Over, vol. 1 of Phenomenology and Deconstruction, 2 vols. (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1991), 79.
(2.) The best biographical source is Hugo Ott, Martin Heidegger: A Political Life, trans. Allen Blunden (London: HarperCollins, 1993). Lowith's account of his conversation with Heidegger, 1936, is in Martin Heidegger and National Socialism: Questions and Answers, ed. Gunther Neske and Emil Kettering, trans. Lisa Harries (1988; New York: Paragon, 1990), 157-59. Hereafter, MHNS in the text.
(3.) Pierre Bourdieu, The Political Ontology of Martin Heidegger, trans. Peter Collier (1988; Stanford: Stanford UP, 1991), 104. Bourdieu details the political notions on which Heidegger drew. Hans Sluga supplements and corrects Bourdieu's analysis in Heidegger's Crisis: Philosophy and Politics in Nazi Germany (Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1993).
(4.) Robert Musil, The Man without Qualities, trans. Sophie Wilkins, 2 vols. (New York: Knopf, 1995), 1:566-67, 337, 338, 526. Here and later I have slightly altered Wilkins's translation, consulting Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (Hamburg: Rowohlt, 1952). Musil was writing ca. 1930 about Austria in 1913; the vogue for the ideas expressed spans Heidegger's youth and earlier manhood.
(5.) Pierre Bourdieu, The Rules of Art: Genesis and Structure of the Literary Field, trans. Susan Emanuel (1992; Stanford: Stanford UP, 1996), 126.
(6.) David Frisby, Fragments of Modernity: Theories of Modernity in the Work of Simmel, Kracauer and Benjamin (Cambridge: MIT P, 1986), 127. Rolf Wiggershaus, The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance, trans. Michael Robertson (1986; Cambridge: MIT Press, 1994), 99. On Heidegger's actual popularity, along with Lukacs, among German leffists in the 1920s and very early 1930s, see Wiggershaus 80.
(7.) Theodore Kisiel, The Genesis of Heidegger's "Being and Time" (Berkeley: U of California P, 1993), 544-45.
(8.) Hannah Arendt, Willing, vol. 2 of The Life of the Mind, 2 vols. (1971; rpt. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovitch, 1978), 173.
(9.) Ott, 374, 292, 295.
(10.) Sluga, 36; Sluga notes that Schelling and Hegel saw their own work in a similar light, 261 n. 10. Cf. Peter Singer's observation that "if Hegel is to be believed, the closing pages of [The Phenomenology of Mind] are no mere description of the culmination of everything that has happened since finite minds were first created: they are that culmination": The Oxford Companion to Philosophy, ed. Ted Honderich (Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995), 342. Among megalomaniacal German-language thinkers born like Heidegger in the nineteenth century are Wagner, Nietzsche, and Freud. I mention the Anabaptists because these messianic men strove for what Max Weber would call "charismatic legitimation." The prophetic stance of another such, Hitler, prompted Hannah Arendt to observe, "The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility ..., based not so much on superior intelligence as on the correct interpretation of the essentially reliable forces in history or nature, forces which neither defeat nor ruin can prove wrong because they are bound to assert themselves in the long run": The Origins of Totalitarianism (new ed.; New York: Harcourt Brace, Harvest, 1973), 348-49. Hereafcer OT in text.
(11.) The summary is David Luban's, printed in an appendix to Lang's Heidegger's Silence, 109. Its basis is Luban's conversations with Baumgarten in 1976, about two months after Heidegger's death and the printing of a self-justifying interview Heidegger had given the journal Der Spiegel in 1966, stipulating that it be published posthumously. Baumgarten's Heidegger resembles Richard Rorty's, "accidentally a Nazif That is, his anti-democratic, anti-modern principles moved him to join the Party only as "a ruthless opportunist and . . . political ignoramus." Presumably he might have opted for some other fundamentalism if it had presented itself advantageously. "Philosophy as Science, as Metaphor, and as Politics," in Rorty, Essays on Heidegger and Others. Philosophical Papers, Volume 2 (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1991), 19, 19 n. 27. Lang rejects this position, 124 n. 38.
(12.) Jean-Francois Lyotard, Heidegger and "the jews," trans. Andreas Michel and Mark Roberts (1988; Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1990).
(13.) Charles Taylor, "Heidegger, Language, and Ecology," rptd. in his Philosophical Arguments (1992; Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1995), 125. In bewigging Heidegger as a sort of Squire Allworthy of the Black Forest, a benign, blindside-able naif, Taylor exhibits how Left/Right boundaries melt away in Heideggerian matters. Himself a collectivist of the Left, democratic socialist in creed, Taylor tries to rinse the National Socialist stain from Heidegger's own collectivism, on the way to claiming "a positive relevance of Heidegger's philosophy to modern politics" (125).
(14.) John D. Caputo, "Heidegger's Scandal: Thinking and the Essence of the Victim," in The Heidegger Case: On Philosophy and Politics, ed. Tom Rockmore and Joseph Margolis (Philadelphia: Temple UP, 1992), 265-81; I quote from 277-78. (Hereafter, HCPP in the text.) Lyotard's analysis is also what I have called a gerundive argument. Richard Bernstein presents an admirable analysis openly in tune with Caputo's but also attentive to Heidegger's construction of "an apologia--a defense in which Heidegger's condemnation of metaphysical humanism and his analysis of Gestell are intended to account for, to `justify' his silence about the Holocaust": Richard J. Bernstein, "Heidegger's Silence? Ethos and Technology," in Bernstein, The New Constellation: The Ethical-Political Horizons of Modernity/Postmodernity (Cambridge: MIT P, 1992), 130.
(15.) David Farrell Krell, "Introduction to the Paperback Edition. Heidegger Nietzsche Nazism" (1991), in Martin Heidegger, Nietzsche (1961), trans. David Farrell Krell, 2 vols. (1979-87; rpt. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1991), xii.
(16.) Peter Gay, Weimar Culture: The Outsider as Insider (New York: Harper and Row, 1970), 72.
(17.) Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics (lectures of 1935, published 1953), trans. Ralph Manheim (1959; rpt. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1961), 7.
(18.) Martin Heidegger, "Letter on Humanism," in Heidegger, Basic Writings, ed. David Farrell Krell (1947; San Francisco: Harper, 1977), 235.
(19.) Martin Schwab, foreword to Manfred Frank, What Is Neostructuralism? (1984), trans. Sabine Wilke and Richard Gray (1984; Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1989), xiii.
(20.) Cumming, 76.
(21.) Paul Hiihnerfeld, quoted in Gay, 81-82. Gay's third and fourth chapters, pages 46-101, show the fund of Weimar Republic ideas and attitudes on which Heidegger's philosophizing and also Nazi doctrine drew so as to excite wide public devotion. A broader account of volkiseh thought appears in Arthur Herman's The Idea of Decline in Western History (New York: Free P, 1997). Herman notes that the Frankfurt School principals, Horkheimer and Adorno, philosophized away "the horror of the Holocaust," draining it "of specific meaning and context. Nazi anti-Semitism was not directed at Jews after all, they were saying, nor was it caused directly by anything in... German society" (319), as opposed to the evils of instrumental rationality, will to power, and capitalism--these betes noires they shared with their supposed ideological foe Heidegger.
(22.) The term is that of Theodor W. Adorno, The Jargon of Authenticity, trans. Knut Tarnowski and Frederic Will (1964; Evanston: Northwestern UP, 1973).
(23.) Sluga, 244.
(24.) Adorno, 112-13.
(25.) I take "collective karma" from an interview, 1997, with the soprano Hildegard Behrens. Cf. the exclusionary collectivism and sentimentality of contemporary American "identity politics." I cite the German Behrens's phrase because in context it approves an assigned national destiny in a blend of East and West congenial to Heidegger. I am struck by the survival of such foundational notions at the end of the century. Like Heidegger, Behrens "think[s] geniuses are channels-channeling from the High Wisdom": Opera News 61.14 (5 April 1997): 10. On this matter, the German heritage that she and he share probably counts less than the delusive naturalness of art, which she and he treat as truth-bearing. Cf. with the later Heidegger's principles of Gelassenheit, Ruf, Lichtung, and aletheia the American Edward Rothstein's comment that playing an instrument well can induce "intoxication, as if something is being spoken `through' one, and all one need to do to uncover more of that universe being revealed is pay attention": Emblems of Mind: The Inner Life of Music and Mathematics (New York: Avon, 1995), 170. Heidegger drove while drunk.
(26.) I am paraphrasing from Heidegger's "Letter on Humanism," 218-19, 230. Again, I would stress that Heidegger shared this way of talking with a Germanic public; in The Man without Qualities the artist Walter takes the mystic prophet Meingast and others of his ilk to be "saviors" (Heilbringer): "Salvation [Heil], after all, originally means making one whole." Meingast's increasingly mad disciple Clarisse, Walter's wife and a physician's sister, accordingly begins to feel herself rippling with a "healing power" (Heilkraft), Musil 2: 852, 988-89.
(27.) I am not fabricating this sort of analysis. To the extent that, pace Lang, Heidegger cared about the Jewish Question, he could have found the analysis precisely put forth in Karl Marx, "On the Jewish Question" (1843). The real, everyday Jew, Marx writes, worships self-interest, huckstering, and money. Because Mammon-worship, with "contempt for theory, for art, for history, and for man as an end in himself' dominates the Christian world, one can say that Judaism dominates it. "The social emancipation of the Jew is the emancipation of society from Judaism": The Marx-Engels Reader, 2d ed., ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1978), 51-52. Heidegger's ideal National Socialism would have "emancipated" Jews by abolishing their "Judaism" in Marx's sense.
(28.) Elaine Scarry, The Body in Pain: The Making and Unmaking of the World (New York: Oxford UP, 1985), 180.
(29.) Theodore Kisiel, "Heidegger's Apology: Biography as Philosophy and Ideology," in HCPP, 34.
(30.) Otto P0ggeler, Martin Heidegger's Path of Thinking, 2d ed., trans. Daniel Magurshak and Sigmund Barber (1983; Atlantic Highlands NJ: Humanities P, 1987), 216.
(31.) The de Man and Heidegger cases differed, though the apologetic demands they made on Derrida et al. overlapped. As to de Man, John Guillory rightly comments that the flood of responses to the revelations about him would have been unnecessary "if theory itself were not perceived to be implicated" in his figure. "The easy condemnation in the media of theory along with de Man only confirmed a symbolic equation already present in the professional imaginary": Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1993), 178. Not de Man himself, however, but the perceived nihilism and obscurantism of "deconstruction" created this equation: of course, the charge went, an unprincipled man with something to hide would subscribe to unprincipled, fact-erasing theory-de Man, who had rehabilitated allegory, became one. Heidegger's position in Europe of the later 1980s had other valences, especially as German reunification and closer Franco-German ties seemed more likely.
(32.) Richard Rorty, Essays on Heidegger, 69.
(33.) I have translated Lyotard's "angoisse" as "angst" rather than the "shock" in Michel and Roberts's English version. Lyotard, I think, alludes to the unsettledness, uncanniness, and dread Heidegger treats in Being and Time as basic. Anyone, besides, might feel angst before the fact that thought, along with other technological advances, empowers its good, bad, or middling wielders in direct proportion to its "greatness." Only the naive would feel shock.
(34.) Hubert L. Dreyfus, Being-in-the-World: A Commentary on Heidegger's "Being and Time," Division I (Cambridge: MIT P, 1991), 9. Dreyfus and Harrison Hall, "Introduction," in Heidegger: A Critical Reader, eds. Dreyfus and Hall (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992), 2. Hereafter, HC in the text.
(35.) Paul Berman, "The Philosopher-King is Mortal," The New York Times Magazine, 11 May 1997, 36. Havel, Berman thinks, "put together his language of democracy out of found objects from Heidegger, Beckett, Kafka, and several other writers, not to mention a couple of rock stars," and added "a dash of hippie mysticism, Central European style" (37).
(36.) Richard Rorty offers, uncharacteristically, the rationale that we cannot get along without heroes[,] ... detailed stories about the mighty dead" to invigorate us. "The Historiography of Philosophy: Four Genres," in Philosophy in History, ed. Rorty, J. B. Schneewind, and Quentin Skinner (Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1984), 73. Some accuse Rorty, I think wrongly, of too breezily dismissing their belief that a Nazi stench rises from Heidegger's philosophical as well as personal rot. A Great-Predecessor principle would then help explain why he might incline to do that: ethical queasiness discourages one from personal hobnobbing with an inveterate Nazi, and Rorty imagines such Elysian dialogues as integral to what he calls "rational reconstruction" (49 and passim). Heidegger would have agreed that `the way" of thought "leads necessarily into face-to-face converse with the thinkers" on some plane of commensurability: What is Called Thinking?, trans. J. Glenn Gray (1954; New York: Harper Colophon, 1968), 77. Fewer temptations to bend the truth, I suggest, inhere in image sets other than that of keeping company with potent ghosts. Those image sets include artistic construction, bricolage, and consumer behavior.
(37.) Richard Rorty, Philosophy and the Mirror of Nature (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1979), 12. Heidegger's alleged lack of creative disciples, which Lang cites negatively as to his philosophical stature, should be if anything positive for Rorty, since edifying philosophers try to remain peripheral, reactive, timebound. For these principles and Rorty's discriminating his own terms from what may be their proximal source, Thomas Kuhn's "revolutionary" and "normal" science, see 368-70; Rorty does not address another distinction along the same lines, Max Weber's "charisma" and "routine." Rorty's later and I think preferable view of Heidegger and Heidegger's "quest for authenticity" appears in Essays on Heidegger, 49, 62-65.
(38.) Mark Okrent, Heidegger's Pragmatism: Understanding, Being, and the Critique of Metaphysics (Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1988), 47.
(39.) I quote from the discussion of Johann Gottlieb Fichte's politics in Michael Allen Gillespie, Nihilism before Nietzsche (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1995), 98. On Fichte in Nazi ideology, and on Heidegger's use of Fichte's Addresses in his own rectorial address, see Sluga, 29-41 and passim.
(40.) Amos Funkenstein cites St. Augustine's assertion that libido dominandi makes God--Augustine's form of Being--ancillary to the world: Theology and the Scientific Imagination from the Middle Ages to the Seventeenth Century (Princeton: Princeton UP, 1986), 258-59. Augustine theologizes an older distinction between uti (using) and frui (enjoying): the good use the world so as to delight in God, and the evil vice versa. For Heidegger, one should use the world to delight in Being rather than control the world through exploiting Being, while oblivious to it as itself. The thing as Gegenstand illuminates Being, as a kind of intercessory metonym, while the same object as Bestand serves a human will to power. In the spiritual tradition of Augustine and Heidegger, one distinguishes means from ends normatively but at odds with Kant's ethical stipulation of humans as ends rather than means. For Augustine and Heidegger, humans are indeed means.
(41.) Daniel Miller, "Consumption as the Vanguard of History," in Acknowledging Consumption: A Review of New Studies, ed. Miller (London: Routledge, 1995), 53. Miller argues for the idea of disaggregation as key to consumer studies' capacity to allow one to rethink the traditional categories of social analysis.
(42.) Richard B. Miller, Casuistry and Modern Ethics: A Poetics of Practical Reasoning (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1996), 10. Chapters 3 and 4 of Miller's book, discussing "Enlightenment" Liberalism and "Romantic" Communitarianism, suggest why these issues are important in political ethics.
(43.) Bernstein, 121.
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|Article Type:||Book Review|
|Date:||Jan 1, 1998|
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