Die Bärliner reports on the “Heidegger and the Jews
” tribunal, which convened January 23rd to 26th, 2015 in Paris.
Jean-Claude Milner took things much slower. Very carefully, he inquired into the relation between Heidegger’s language and the innovations it brought about in German academia and politics of the 1920s and 30s. The local intelligentsia’s German back then, according to Milner, was primarily the German of Luther and Goethe – a Protestant German, that had blended with the German of the Jewish bourgeoisie in a Prussian “alliance” against the Hapsburgian Catholic South. When Heidegger became the centre of attention for German intellectual life, after the publication of Sein und Zeit in 1927, he came with the intention to radically change the front lines. In his infamous address as rector of the University of Freiburg on “The Self-Assertion of the German University”, Milner suggested, he was countering Max Weber’s (Protestant) ideals, as laid out in his 1917 speech “Science as Vocation”. Against Weber’s anti-prophetism and sober professionalism, Heidegger proposed an idea of the (philosophy) professor as a prophetic figure. After his resignation as rector he came to see that the Nazis could not offer the conservative revolution he had hoped for, but even after 1945 he continued to adhere to his plans of renewing and de-Lutherizing the German language. Milner ended on the suggestion that Luthero-Goethian German died with the Jews in the Holocaust, suggesting that Nazi politics, as much as Heidegger later belittled them, in some horrible way also contributed to the realization of some of his philosophical goals.