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Should Nazi Ties Discredit Heidegger?

Debate grows with publication of new book, ‘Times’ reports

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The long-simmering debate over Martin Heidegger’s legitimacy in the pantheon of modern philosophers is getting renewed attention with the imminent translation into English of a book arguing that Heidegger’s Nazi Party membership should discredit his entire body of work. Emmanuel Faye’s Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy, published in French four years ago, “calls on philosophy professors to treat Heidegger’s writings like hate speech,” writes Patricia Cohen today in the New York Times. “Libraries, too, should stop classifying Heidegger’s collected works (which have been sanitized and abridged by his family) as philosophy and instead include them under the history of Nazism,” Cohen notes the book argues. Faye’s approach is the most radical yet toward stripping Heidegger of his towering stature in modern thought and culture, Cohen writes; his influence extends to disciplines beyond philosophy, including psychoanalysis, poetry, and architecture. Faye’s opponents recognize the difficulty of considering Heidegger’s oeuvre without acknowledging the genocidal machine of which he was a part, but don’t believe that his Nazi sympathies underlie or undermine all of his works. Faye’s supporters, on the other hand, say Heidegger’s toxicity is so thorough, it infects everything, even the way we read the esteemed Jewish thinker Hannah Arendt, who was Heidegger’s protégé and lover, and who worked to help him restore his reputation after the war.

An Ethical Question: Does a Nazi Deserve a Place Among Philosophers? [NYT]
Related: Hot for Teacher [Tablet]

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moshe messeri says:

First i have to admit that i am not familiar with his work, but i think i still have a right to comment, as it is a matter of moral.
the issue can be compared to the question if it is acceptable to include the horrbile experiments the nazis did on human beings, in the general corpus of sience and benefit from the results, assuming any of them was of any value.
the answer in both cases is no because that way we become accomplices after the fact.

Brian Hall says:

I am familiar with some of Heidegger, and i have to say, him being a Nazi doesn’t discredit him at all. First of all, he didn’t write philosophy “for” Nazis, or at least that’s not how it seemed to me. since his philosophy that I have read so far (“being in time” and “selected writings”) do not seem to be specifically anti any race or religion.
Secondly, we cannot prevent people from being heard, or from being regarded as valid, just because they have done something bad. Yes, Heidegger was a bad person in many respects, however, so was Gandhi(there are records of pedophilia, as well as heavy racism against non-Indians), Mother Teresa (She believed that people NEED to feel pain to get close to god, and her hospices were more of a place for people to be “comfortable” while they were dying and in pain. she also encouraged self harm as a form of prayer), and The Dali lama(Who is in support of bringing Tibet under his rule again, which is a terribly violent caste system where priests can do anything to lower class people and get away with it). These people sill did/do good things as well as preach some very good ideas like peace and freedom.
Even though they where also bad people they shouldn’t be completely shunned and denounced.


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Should Nazi Ties Discredit Heidegger?

Debate grows with publication of new book, ‘Times’ reports

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