In The Spectator, another review
of Sarah Bakewell's At the Existentialist Café
Reassuringly, not even the professional existentialist philosophers could always understand what they were talking about. Edmund Husserl saw himself as the founder of phenomenology, but his friend and pupil Martin Heidegger wrote that ‘no one knows what that is’.’Most people could not understand Heidegger at all. One listener to a lecture had the delusion of understanding what he was saying, and then immediately fainted. Heidegger’s style, full of proposals about philosophical values such as ‘ahead-of-itself-already-being-in-(the-world) as being-together-with(beings encountered within the world)’ may be refined or may be gibberish.
Confusingly, one of the people who couldn’t understand Heidegger was Heidegger himself, who said that he had ‘nothing to do with the Heideggerian profundity’.