US Intellectual History on Martin Woessner's Heidegger in America
, and the Heidegger style
“What Heidegger’s students absorbed, after all, was not so much a specific doctrine or dogma, but a methodology that was rooted in a specific philosophical attitude or style” (Woessner, p. 89). Put differently, Heidegger and his acolytes “privileged the arch conception of the philosopher as an exegetical magician: each sought to place philosophy beyond the purview of mass society, thus ensuring that it remained the province of only those who had ears to hear” (Woessner, p. 89). One can see this style in Heidegger’s student Leo Strauss, who loathed Heidegger’s existential grasping for Being, but mimicked his style of reading and teaching texts. A whole school of American political philosophy emerged from this style, as Strauss and his ubiquitous students, including Allan Bloom, taught a generation of conservatives how to read and write texts at two levels: at a low level that laypeople could understand, and at a lofty level that a natural aristocracy fit to govern could comprehend. One can also see the Heideggerian style, to a lesser extent, in Derrida’s “death of the author” deconstruction, where meaning is found in the reading of the text itself, rather than in the context of its production.