In my 1996 study, Heidegger's Hölderlin and John Cage, published also in Italian in Rome in 2000, I pose several questions, including the following:
"Does the historical 'matchlessness' ('Einzigartigkeit', Heidegger) of National Socialism consist in German being having
destroyed itself in an orgy of self-annihilation? Was the
attempted annihilation of the Jews the successful suicide of
Germany, i.e. German being, as an independent historical
"Is it not, properly speaking, the German spirit that dissolved in
the smoke of the stacks at Auschwitz? Is the genocide committed on the
Jews at the same time the suicide of the Germans historically?"
Such questions concern not just Heidegger's thinking, but the
historical German Geist itself.
Apart from more thoughtful reflections from commentators such as Peter Trawny and Jonathan Rée, the comments posted in response to articles in The Guardian, Prospect Magazine and elsewhere show that Heidegger's Back in Black with the Schwarzen Heften is apparently a welcome opportunity for many to engage in renewed thoughtless bashing.
So what's new?
In 1941 Heidegger notes in his Black Notebook: "World Jewry,
stirred up by the emigrants let out of Germany, is everywhere
intangible and, despite all its expansion of power, does not
need to participate in military actions anywhere, whereas we are
left with having to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our
own people." (my translation)
Disturbing, nationalistically ugly.
I share Jonathan Rée's critical attitude toward Heidegger's
thinking. To be critical means to distinguish (from Gk.
_krinein_), in this case, the philosophically invaluable from
the untenable and worthless and even downright repugnant.
That so much affective vitriol is stimulated by the name
'Heidegger' in Pavlovian response indicates obliquely that something is at stake here.
If I had to boil down the message of Heidegger's 1927 opus
magnum, 'Being and Time', I'd say, "Being means time" and "Time
is the open clearing of absencing and presencing". Today's
mainstream philosophical and scientific thinking is not up to
speed on this, remaining content with the washing-line of linear time on which to hang its effective causality between beings,
and viciously repudiating any philosophical attempt to rethink
time after two-and-a-half millennia.
Heidegger's detractors like to make fun of him
by mockingly citing, out of context, sentences such as, "The world
worlds". To them I reply:
What about the mathematically exact
statement of the continuity of motion, namely:
"Motion is continuous at time t' if, for any positive epsilon, there is a
positive delta such that for all t on the real time-line closer
to t' than delta, position f(t) is closer to f(t') than epsilon."?
isn't that a fine joke and absurdity to mull over?