Tuesday, March 03, 2015
Yesterday in the Comical of Higher Education, Richard Wolin, an American (ethnic cleansing of natives, racial slavery, mass incarceration of poor and uneducated) intellectual, judges the mauvaise foi of others.
The most recent act of bad faith on the part of Heidegger’s defenders has been to claim that anti-Jewish elements are present in the work of earlier German thinkers as well, such as Kant and Hegel, suggesting that it is unfair to single out Heidegger for harboring anti-Semitic convictions that were widespread. However, such claims are misleading in two important respects: (1) The Black Notebooks make clear that anti-Semitism occupies a systematic position in Heidegger’s thought, which was not the case with Kant and Hegel; and (2) Kant’s and Hegel’s thoughts were predicated on the notion of the "autonomy of reason," and, therefore, unlike Heidegger’s, remained unserviceable for the ends of National Socialism.
Wolin's notion that the core of Heidegger's contribution is contained in the Black Notebooks's anti-semitic remarks merely indicates that after decades of criticizing Heidegger, he still doesn't get what's original about Heidegger's way of thinking.

Wolin is right that Heidegger was a part of the "convenient rationalization for German nonresponsibility". As such, Heidegger is a banal and idiotic figure, just like the characters Fassbinder staged in his BRD trilogy, Lili Marleen, and Berlin Alexanderplatz, who shirk responsibility and so are complicit in the horror.

Heidegger's writings on German-ness aren't of much interest to anyone who is not a German. No one else but specific Germans would think Germans are a master race with some special historical destiny. Nor do most readers of Heidegger think that Bavarian peasants are ontologically privileged, despite the meister's prejudices for his location. Commenting on German-ness is a feature of most German philosophers' works. Once you get past what's noteworthy and original about them, and read the source materials, they are all concerned with defining German-ness. And similarly, they all have trouble fitting Jews into their national narratives. Heidegger's anti-semitisms is not a particularly acute case in that company.

The notion that Kant and Hegel "remained unserviceable for the ends of National Socialism" is easily disproven. Alfred Rosenberg, the actual Nazi philosopher (hanged at Nuremberg), praised Kant ("The euthanasia of Judaism is the pure moral religion.", Streit der Fakultaten, 1798). Alfred Baeumler, the Reich's director of the Institute for Political Pedagogy wrote his dissertation on Kant. Reichsminister Hans Frank spoke of Hegel ("The Jewish multitude was bound to wreck His [Christ] attempt to give them the consciousness of something divine, for faith in something divine, something great, cannot make its home in a dunghill", The Spirit of Christianity and its Fate, 1799) as Germany's greatest political philosopher. Shouldn't a historian know that?
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