Heidegger and Nazism – a letter from the archives

From the London Review of Books, Vol. 12 No. 7 · 5 April 1990

Richard Rorty’s eulogy of Martin Heidegger (LRB, 8 February) is shamefully tasteless, insensitive, infantile, and vulgar in the extreme. He seems to think that one should not be angry with Heidegger because, despising democracy, as does every good intellectual, he also worshipped at the phallic shrine of Nazism, joined the Party (in both senses of the word), and betrayed his colleagues and his country to support a movement which, in one of its few instances of sanity, had the good sense to reject him in favour of an even greater mind, Alfred Rosenberg, whose position as the ideological and doctrinal theoretician of the most obscene, banal, puerile, and maniacal system ever devised in the entirety of human history Rorty’s hero coveted. The Nazi Heidegger was not a hypocrite; Nazism was Heideggerism authentically made flesh. To be a hypocrite would require Heidegger to think one way and act another, but surely all of Nazism is contained within the deranged, demented putrescence of his Teutonic furz, his Gesamelte Werke.


Sidney Halpern Temple University, Pennsylvania

Five types of change in philosophy

In any discussion of emergence, it is often difficult to separate this concept from its semantic cousins who all live in the same philosophical neighbourhood. Sure, they’re related, but they don’t really talk much. There’ll be a polite nod, and maybe a few minutes of chit-chat about how Uncle Dynamis is these days, but they don’t have a huge amount to say to each other beyond that. Conversation will slow, headphones will pop in, and each will return to their own little world.

Change is central to philosophy either for reasons of counting it as the defining principle (as Heraclitus does), or for reasons of escaping it and its counter-intuitive implications (Parmenides, Plato, Hegel, whoever else). Continue reading

Heidegger for Cyborgs

The sun isn’t effective because I use it. Rather it can only be used because it is capable of an effect, of inflicting some sort of blow on reality. Graham Harman, Towards Speculative Realism (p. 51)

So it seems that the closer we get to objectivity, the further away we veer from the perceiving human being, and accordingly the more we swaddle ourselves in a contradiction. The critical project of Kant was an attempt to displace this question, such that the two sides would be mutually implicated by the very reason of their entailing one another. The recognition of the ability to posit both object and subject would lead Fichte to seek security in an absolute solipsism, but this was but one of the possibilities within the critical project, rather than its inevitable unfolding. As such, to question the distinction that has long held there to be a barrier between me and my world isn’t doomed. Is it? Continue reading