In the Financial Times, Julian Baggini reviews
Sarah Bakewell's At the Existentialist Café
Take Martin Heidegger, a one-time unabashed member of the Nazi party who refused to apologise for the fact. Although it would be crass to dismiss his entire philosophy on the basis of his political views, it would be equally absurd to deny any connection at all between the two. Heidegger’s pastoral nostalgia dovetailed all too well with Nazi ideals of blood and soil, while his abstraction and impersonality is arguably an even greater flaw. This is perhaps reflected in Heidegger’s refusal to remove a single sentence in a report on a Catholic colleague about his negative opinion of the state, a line that could have proved fatal. It is at least worth asking whether this personal hardness reflects a certain inhumanity in the philosopher’s thinking.