Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Jeff Love and Michael Meng on the politics of the rectoral address.
Heidegger is a revolutionary. His philosophy is revolutionary. This revolutionary philosophy requires a revolutionary politics. The merger of theory and practice—thought as happening or event, as “spiritual-historical existence,” which is of the essence of that thought, is a direct intervention into the polis, its most cherished commonplaces. Heidegger does not seek to hide from the polis; he does not prefer the cloister, the monastic cell, the warm room with a stove walled off from the worlds of human activity. Surely, the rectoral address is sufficient evidence of this: Heidegger declares in effect, just as Marx did less than a century earlier, that philosophy cannot simply be content to stay in the garden.
Yet is this not what Heidegger declared it should do after the rectorship? Did not Heidegger make it perfectly clear that philosophy had no place in the city, that, indeed, the rectorship was an “aberration”? We have seen that the rectoral address is deeply political, that it calls for nothing less than a complete reconsideration of the polis and of the relation of philosophy to the polis. Is the address itself then merely an “aberration” as well, an exercise of Heideggerian rhetoric, which one may either admire or decry? Are there two Heideggers or, perhaps, even more? Which is the “real” Heidegger?
We wish to argue that the “real” Heidegger appears in the rectoral address, that Heidegger never repudiated its revolutionary content, though he certainly had to find ways to mitigate the failure of its ambitious scope as well as the association it created between him and a disastrously failed “movement.” But these latter choices were largely tactical—they do not go to the heart of the address’s concerns. If philosophy returns to its ambiguities after 1934, it is not because philosophy as such has changed but because the possibility of realizing a philosophical revolution has.
From "The Political Myths of Martin Heidegger".
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