An Ethical Question: Does a Nazi Deserve a Place Among Philosophers?

Patricia Cohen investigates in the New York Times:

For decades the German philosopher Martin Heidegger has been the subject of passionate debate. His critique of Western thought and technology has penetrated deeply into architecture, psychology and literary theory and inspired some of the most influential intellectual movements of the 20th century. Yet he was also a fervent Nazi.

Now a soon-to-be published book in English has revived the long-running debate about whether the man can be separated from his philosophy. Drawing on new evidence, the author, Emmanuel Faye, argues fascist and racist ideas are so woven into the fabric of Heidegger’s theories that they no longer deserve to be called philosophy. As a result Mr. Faye declares, Heidegger’s works and the many fields built on them need to be re-examined lest they spread sinister ideas as dangerous to modern thought as “the Nazi movement was to the physical existence of the exterminated peoples.”

First published in France in 2005, the book, “Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy,” calls on philosophy professors to treat Heidegger’s writings like hate speech. Libraries, too, should stop classifying Heidegger’s collected works (which have been sanitized and abridged by his family) as philosophy and instead include them under the history of Nazism. These measures would function as a warning label, like a skull-and-crossbones on a bottle of poison, to prevent the careless spread of his most odious ideas, which Mr. Faye lists as the exaltation of the state over the individual, the impossibility of morality, anti-humanism and racial purity…

[continues in the New York Times]

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  • http://www.xenex.org/ xen

    You know who else tried to revise history to suit his agenda?

    Heidegger was a philosopher. You know what philosophers produce? Philosophy. Walt Disney was a fan of Nazism, should we rechristen Snow White as a Nazi glorification film?

  • http://twitter.com/Dumbsaint Dumbsaint

    'Careless spread of odious ideas' It's a little late don't you think? Existentialism and post-modernity go hand in hand.

    Besides, we've been here before. Neitzsche might have been put aside for a decade or two but arguably his work's classification as naughty nazi books made his popularity bounce back stronger than ever.

  • http://twitter.com/esahc Hunter C. Coch

    As a philosopher many of his views are sound, especially on the subject of being. How ever as a human, like all of us, is petty and fallible. One can and should separate the man from his ideas, as well as the illogical philosophies from the sound.

  • Trish

    Ridiculous. Pity Hannah Arendt isn't still alive so they can solve the question by just asking her.

  • http://twitter.com/RachelHaywire haywireasfuck

    This is one of the stupidest questions I’ve ever heard. What does his philosophy have to do with his party affiliation? Absolutely nothing. His philosophy helped to influence the majority of occultists who weren’t fluffy fluffy bun buns. I’m speaking as someone who is a militant anti-nazi.

  • http://twitter.com/haywireasfuck haywireasfuck

    This is one of the stupidest questions I've ever heard. What does his philosophy have to do with his party affiliation? Absolutely nothing. His philosophy helped to influence the majority of occultists who weren't fluffy fluffy bun buns. I'm speaking as someone who is a militant anti-nazi.

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