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Reading Heidegger's Black Notebooks 1931-1941$
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Ingo Farin and Jeff Malpas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780262034012

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262034012.001.0001

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The King Is Dead: Martin Heidegger after the Black Notebooks

The King Is Dead: Martin Heidegger after the Black Notebooks

Chapter:
(p.45) 4 The King Is Dead: Martin Heidegger after the Black Notebooks
Source:
Reading Heidegger's Black Notebooks 1931-1941
Author(s):

Gregory Fried

Publisher:
The MIT Press
DOI:10.7551/mitpress/9780262034012.003.0004

Hannah Arendt called the Martin Heidegger she knew in the 1920s “the hidden king” of philosophy in Germany. In this essay, I examine the implications of the publication of the Black Notebooks on Heidegger’s profound and wide-reaching impact, in particular whether his expression of principled philosophical support for National Socialism, as well as several clearly anti-Semitic passages, invalidates his title as philosopher, and effectively kills him as king. I do so by first examining what many students found so gripping about Heidegger’s resuscitation of the question of the meaning of Being, and what that question challenges about the history of philosophy in the West. I argue that the key challenge is against what he calls the influence of Platonic metaphysics: that what is essential to Being is timeless and trans-historical. This has political implications for Heidegger in his critique of liberal and Enlightenment conceptions of universal ethics and political rights, a tradition he hoped the National Socialist might radically counter by reasserting human finitude and temporality as diverse task belonging to distinct peoples. While the Notebooks also show that Heidegger became despondent about these hopes, they also do not indicate that he came to reject the hope itself that a new inception in history might transform Western metaphysics, philosophically and politically. Nevertheless, I conclude by arguing that Heidegger is only dead if we make the mistake of taking his stated positions as the final meaning of his thought; instead, we should recognize that the question of Being is one that is itself still very much alive, that we need to learn to appropriate it in our own idiom, and the that crises of globalism suggest that constructively confronting Heidegger may be a critical way for us to think about what it means for us to be now, as human beings and as philosophers.

Keywords:   anti-Semitism, National Socialism, question of being, metaphysics, philosophy, history of philosophy

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