Grant Farred on why Heidegger saved his life
Heidegger saved me because he gave me the language to write about race in such a way as I’d never written it before. Heidegger enabled me to write in this way because he has made me think about how to think. Of all the philosophers I know and the theorists I read, Heidegger stands apart because he is the only thinker I know who explicitly sets himself the task of thinking thinking. This is, above all else, what draws me to Heidegger: to ask myself, again and again, what it means to think. And thinking, in Heidegger’s rendering, is nothing other – in other words, it is everything – than asking oneself what it means to be an intellectual. It is all good and well to insist, as I have done, that the work of an intellectual is simple, straightforward: to think. It is entirely another matter to confront oneself with the question of what thinking is – this is the kind of question that can take over your life. And because it overwhelms you, it can, in the most crucial moments, also save you. Maybe it is all that can save you.