Sunday, November 23, 2014

Not Philosophy on coincidence of events.
What I’m concerned with here is a passage which reveals Heidegger’s own understanding of his place in the history of philosophy and the place of philosophy within history in general. Reflecting on the events of 1933 and responding to a quote from Carl Schmitt, Heidegger says the following in the Hegel seminar:
On 30.1.33 ‘Hegel died’ – no! he had not yet ‘lived’ – there he has first come alive – just as even history comes alive, i.e. dies.
January 30, 1933 is of course when Hitler came to power. Heidegger is challenging the idea that Hegel could become irrelevant for the current historical situation, that philosophy is the type of thing that dies, and he is certainly trying to give philosophical weight to the political event. We also see hints here of another theme: the reinterpretation of death as constitutive of being. A fascinating comment by itself, but it becomes even more striking when read in conjunction with the following passage from the end of the first volume (1938) of the recently published Notebooks, in which dates again take the stage:
End of Dec. 1888: Nietzsche’s ‘euphoria’ before the breakdown and–(09/26/1889).
Here Heidegger refers to Nietzsche’s mental collapse after a particularly optimistic and literarily productive year in 1888–followed by Heidegger’s own birth. I see two complimentary interpretations of this passage.
Go read the whole thing.

So many philosophers are convinced that their language, or volk, or time, are privileged in some way, that it can't be coincidence. There's something about the personalities involved. But that's psychoanalysis not ontology.

In the early thirties Heidegger was convinced that Hegel's spirit looked backwards at history and marked the culmination of humanist metaphysics (before he settled on Nietzsche as the last metaphysician) and that Hölderlin heralded a new beginning, that he, Heidegger, was inaugurating. By 1935, a little humbler, his engagement with Hegel was over, and it appears to have been a dead end.
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