Monday, August 12, 2019
In LARB Martin Woessner recalls meeting Habermas.
In San Francisco, I had fallen under the spell of the Seinsfrage. Everything revolved around it. Heidegger seemed to be lurking somewhere in all of my classes: history, philosophy, even theology. From him, I learned about ontology, about the essence of technology, and about the seemingly omnipresent dangers of metaphysics and rationality. From my teachers, I learned about Heidegger the existentialist, Heidegger the phenomenologist, and, naturally, Heidegger the National Socialist. There were so many different Heideggers too choose from, but even then, in those post-Farías but pre–Black Notebooks days, it was pretty clear that Heidegger was no ally of what Habermas came to call “the unfinished project of modernity.” Whether or not Habermas is really “the last great rationalist,” as Thomas A. McCarthy, the translator of Habermas’s The Theory of Communicative Action, once claimed, his faith in “the rationality potential of language” is pretty much the opposite of Heidegger’s belief that “reason, glorified for centuries, is the most stiff-necked adversary of thought.”
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