Heidegger in Black. New York Review of Books
Heidegger’s long awaited “Black Books” are now being published which is re-igniting the argument about links between his membership in the Nazi party and his philosophy. I read an article over the weekend on this topic that was written a few years ago; long before any of these journals were published. It made a strong case for the link between Heidegger’s philosophy and his interest in the party, but according to the author this association was predicated on Heidegger’s desire to reform the German University system. His reform plan certainly was informed by his philosophy.
The article doesn’t mention this aspect, and it could certainly be incorrect. In any event, it appears that the journals demonstrate a deeper affinity between Heidegger and the Nazi agenda than his apologists have hoped.
How does that affect ones reading of his work? Many rejected him long ago because of the association, particularly in France. I take a middle of the road position. The politics of an intellectual of any kind (but particularly a philosopher) may reveal something about the applicability of the philosopher’s ideas, at least by ostension. On the other hand, philosophers are human and are motivated by desires, beliefs and sensitivities as much as anyone else. So how they work that out in their personal lives may have little relevance to their work. I think Being and Time stands on its own. But since it was never finished, and many of the ideas were abandoned by Heidegger later, the connective tissue between the writer and the work has been worn away by years of study, analysis and commentary.