Thursday, April 23, 2015
Thomas Sheehan on Faye and fraud.
By trawling through Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe Faye thinks he has uncovered the key to the deciphering Heidegger’s cryptography. Codebreaker Fay has found a text in which Heidegger himself admits that “being itself” is a cipher standing for nothing less than the Nazi notion of the Fatherland.
As is often his wont, Faye provides no page reference for the text he is referring to, much less the context of the remark. To check out Faye’s claim, the diligent reader has to go searching for the text, which is found tucked away at GA 39: 121.22 = 109.28- 29, where Heidegger is commenting on Hölderlin’s essay “Das Werden im Vergehen” (“Becoming in Dissolution,” ca. 1800), which speaks of the “Fatherland.” And once we do locate the passage, we discover that Faye has intentionally rearranged the citation in both French and German. He radically alters the meaning of the passage by surreptitiously shifting a pair of scare quotes from where they belong in the original German. Faye’s switcheroo may seem like a trivial matter, but it hardly is that, once he sets about interpreting the sentence.
Heidegger’s text (italicized in the original German):
Das “Vaterland” [in Hölderlin’s text] ist das Seyn selbst.
The “Fatherland” [in Hölderlin’s text] is being itself.
(To paraphrase Heidegger:)
My philosophical term das Seyn selbst is what Hölderlin, in his essay “Das Werden im Vergehen,” expresses poetically as “the Fatherland.”
Faye’s rewrite:
La Patrie est “l’être” même.
The Fatherland is “being” itself.
(To paraphrase Faye:)
The Fatherland of Nazi ideology is what Heidegger really meant by his philosophical code-word “being itself.”
Anyone who has studied Heidegger’s Hölderlin interpretations knows two things: first, that das Seyn selbst is a name for the clearing; and second, that Heidegger finds that philosophical term articulated poetically by Hölderlin in a variety of ways: “das Vaterland,” “das Heilige,” “die Natur,” “Chaos,” “die Allerschaffende,” “das Geschick”— the list goes on. But by cryptically shifting the quotation marks from Vaterland to Seyn, Faye radically changes the meaning of the passage: what Heidegger really meant by “being itself” was the Nazi notion of the Fatherland.
However, the truth will out. Faye blundered in his French text by providing Heidegger’s original German phrase along with the doctored French one, thereby discrediting his own reading of the text.
Whether one agrees with Heidegger’s interpretations of Hölderlin, or whether one thinks (as I do) that they are often too idiosyncratic and tendentious, one still has to understand what Heidegger is saying in his original German sentences, whether they be in his readings of Hölderlin or in his letters to Nazi friends. However, Faye doesn't bother with that kind of scholarship. He already knows what he wants to find, even if that entails falsifying Heidegger’s sentences.
From "Emmanuel Faye: The Introduction of Fraud into Philosophy?", forthcoming.

[2015/9/12: Now available].
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