The Hebraic Heidegger (Another Discussion Not To Be Held)

The alternative between philosophy and revelation cannot be evaded by any harmonization or “synthesis.” For each of the two antagonists proclaims something as the one thing needful, as the only thing that ultimately counts, and the one thing needful proclaimed by the Bible is the opposite to that proclaimed by philosophy. In every attempt at harmonization, in every synthesis however impressive, one of the two opposed elements is sacrificed, more or less subtly, but in any event surely, to the other: philosophy which means to be the queen must be made the handmaid of revelation or vice versa. If it is confronted with the claim of revelation, and only if confronted with the claim of revelation, philosophy as a radically free pursuit becomes radically questionable.

Leo Strauss, “Notes on Philosophy and Revelation” ((Leo Strauss, “Notes on Philosophy and Revelation,” 4 verso, in Leo Strauss and the Theologico-Political Problem, Heinrich Meier, p. 150.))

The underlying problem of Heidegger’s anti-semitism, or problem of the problem, for us, would be that we do not and cannot consider Heidegger’s or anyone else’s anti-semitism really to be up for discussion in the way, say, that numbering the planets in our solar system might be up for discussion. Unlike a stand on the proper designation of Pluto, the attribution of content or credibility to the pseudo-predicate of anti-semitism – implicitly some notion of “semitism” or “the semitic” – risks violation of a taboo under moral imperatives taken as good in themselves and also as necessary for a culturally diverse mass society, the “good” and the “necessary” being virtually the same thing from the perspective of that society.

On many a comment thread where ardent young college-educated leftists roam, we will discover even the slightest detour from the true and the good on matters of race justifying abuse of the offender, until repentance and a promise of amends has been wrung from his or her, usually his, virtual lips, with  internalization of the lesson to be verified if possible through re-testing. ((I began writing these notes as a reply to John C Halasz at Crooked Timber. The thread offers an example of the shaming ritual in the comments of “Roy Belmont” in criticism of “Harold,” beginning at #372.)) The same assumptions will guide public discussion of the accusations against Heidegger, as can be observed in the comments under the Prospect post “In Defence of Heidegger” by Jonathan Rée, where the author’s arguments disappear amidst a confrontation with “radical evil” – the radical evil not, however, of Nazism, the Holocaust, or total war, but of the critical-philosophical enterprise inspired in part by Heidegger’s thought. ((Here is one of many comments from the voluble Alex Verney-Elliott (typos in original):

Jonathan Rée is a Derridean who was a Heideggerian at heart and at liver and at kidney and so it is no surprise at all that he defends Heidegger here. Derrida follows the Heideggerian Party Line to the Spirit in Spirit and was very defensive, irritated, irrational and embarrassed by the ‘Heidegger Affair’ as if Heidegger had been his unfaithful wife! It seems the racism of Hegel and Kant and Zizek as well as the Eurocentrism of Freud and Lacan has become the accepted norm today, just as Heidegger’s anti-Semitism is just now an acceptable norm for an allegedly ‘great thinker’. If Heidegger was such an insightful and profound thinker, why was he so easily incorporated-interpellated into the absolute unthinking of anti-Semitism? Or is anti-Semitism the ‘unthough’t of Heidegger? I am aware when I try to write philosophy I have been intoxicated by the toxic racism of Hegel and the anti-Semitism of Heidegger: I learnt to even ‘enjoy’ that racist and anti-Semitic ‘though’t that shines-darkly through closely reading Hegel and Heidegger whose writings legitimate and promote racism and anti-Semitism which leaks drooling all over the Heidggerian Derrida and Derrideans even if they are not fully ‘conscious’ of it: it is still ‘there’ in the radical-evil of deconstruction itself and post-structuralism itself and so we are all contaminated by it and should not deny it: we unconsciously ‘enjoy’ the racist legacy of Hegel and ‘enjoy’ the anti-Semitic legacy of Heidegger for we go back and endlessly quote them and celebrate them and promote them: now is the time for us to own up and come clean to this intellectual ‘masturbating wit the negative’.

)) We need not take blog commenters as seriously as they may take themselves, but the same boundless potential for assignment of indirect guilt can be observed “above the comments,” too: “This makes me wonder about Rée as well,” writes Richard Brody in The New Yorker, while responding to that same post. It almost goes without saying that the particular passage under scrutiny is one in which Rée supplies a merely neutral description of one of Heidegger’s claims, before offering his own unaddressed interpretation of a more general train of thought as “not intrinsically anti-Semitic.” ((Thomas Assheuer has written a more comprehensive treatment of the newly published ca. 1,300-page Schwarze Hefte in Die Zeit: Das vergiftete Erbe.))

There are no barriers within philosophy to its own criminalization by irresponsible association. For my own part, I cannot and will not pretend to be in a position to judge and sentence either Heidegger or his critics. Even if I possessed the resources for pursuit of such a judgment, I would remain more interested in our problem with the problem, since that problem of the problem is on the level of our moral-political and finally religious or philosophical precepts, not on the largely irrelevant question of a single individual’s sins. To ask whether Heidegger was really – philosophically, authentically, culpably, meaningfully – an anti-semite must be to ask whether his thought, as per Rée, is intrinsically anti-semitic, but to determine whether Heidegger’s thought is intrinsically anti-semitic we would need to know what the term “anti-semitic,” and its opposites, could possibly mean for both Heidegger and for us. Therefore we must run the risks, or “cross the streams” of philosophy and religion, or we will just be pretending to have that discussion that some of us, the most thoughtful among us as well as their most thoughtful critics, seem to think is important for the possibilities of thought, for how we constitute ourselves and our identities or our identity in thought and thus in history, or meaningfully.

In literature or philosophy, or intellectual history, another word for “semitism” – this word that does not quite exist, but that, if it did exist, might not mean the same thing as Judaism – might be “Hebraism,” the term used by the Victorian writer Matthew Arnold for the philosophical or philosophical-theological alternative to Hellenism: thus the oppositional pairing, also originated by Arnold, of Jerusalem and Athens, meaning thought-from-revelation and thought-from-philosophy. The thinking was that we must choose, or will already find ourselves having chosen, one or the other, Athens or Jerusalem, never quite both, never quite neither. Like Arnold, Leo Strauss, who directly adopted the Athens/Jerusalem opposition, also seemed to believe that a peaceful and equal co-existence of the two modes of thinking or of being a thinking being was impossible, but any statement of this celebrated thought on thought tends to contradict it, since it presents us with the two terms co-existing at least linguistically, side by side, without apparent decision for one or the other – just as we tend to infer occurs in the world at large, as priests and philosophers and more or less certain believers go on about their everyday affairs. Yet Strauss’ assertion may be borne out in Heidegger, if to the opposite of the expected effect. According to the American intellectual historian Peter Eli Gordon, the “startling possibility” presented by a consequential thinking through of Heidegger’s work is that the philosopher, in self-consciously seeking a position beyond Hellenism, found himself “however reluctantly, before the altar of a possibly Hebraic God.” ((Rosenzweig and Heidegger: Between Judaism and German Philosophy (2003). )) Heidegger, it seems, may be another one of us, despite himself, an Hebraist, a “semitist,” a revelationist and monotheist. Heidegger’s seeming adoption of the paranoid’s absurd claim, that the Jews are the power behind everything – casting the Nazis themselves as Germans misled by the Jews ((Assheuer, op. cit.: “[F]ragt sich Peter Trawny, der Herausgeber der Schwarzen Hefte, in seinem Buch Heidegger und der Mythos der jüdischen Weltverschwörung (Klostermann), ob der Philosoph behaupte, die Nazis seien ‘von den Juden verführte Deutsche’. Vermutlich ja.” )) – takes on yet another twist, or ascends to another level of unthinkability: The manifestation of extreme anti-semitism is and could only be itself another hyper-self-destructive, self-/all-annihilating semitism or pseudo-semitism, as asserted in Heidegger’s own finally semitist thinking. ((So, one might say, of course Heidegger fell in love with his Jewish student Hannah Arendt. Of course, despite all, she remained loyal to him to the end of his long life. Of course, he seemed to consider himself among the victims, deserving of sympathy, not responsible for expressing remorse.))

Gordon’s tentatively stated conclusion seems to imply that Heidegger’s “Being” and Hermann Cohen’s Judaic-prophetic “Being Like No Other” should have been at worst siblings, if not taken simply as the same divine (divined, divinized, divinizing) (B)eing. One implication, contra Strauss, might be of the inevitable as original interpenetration, interdependence, and final equivalence of philosophy and religion – which in different ways may also be implied in Carl Schmitt’s thought on all “prägnant” modern theories of the state being theological in origin; as in Marx’s description, following Hegel/Bauer, on the bourgeois (or liberal or liberal-democratic) state as “dissolved Christianity.” It would also have been fully in keeping with a certain optimism about German-Jewish comity, not as between German philosophy and Judaic religion, or German religion and Judaic philosophy, but as between two modes of a deeper and unavoidable indistinction of religion and philosophy, also happening to imply or forecast a common, spiritually and materially fulfilling destiny for real Jews and Germans. The epochal or world-historical negation, or world-catastrophic historical reversal, of this conception would seem, or has seemed, to constitute the most definitive possible proof of the failure both of Cohen’s thought, and of Rosenzweig’s expansion upon it, and a verification of Strauss’s counter-claim, made after a proof that took the form, among others, of countless heaps of corpses. ((This conclusion, or presumption, is asserted more or less directly by, for example, Mark Lilla, who is good for articulate and well-supported re-statements of conventional wisdom on such matters – see The Great Separation and The Reckless Mind.)) Quite indicatively, or consistently with the overarching thesis, it would be proof of Schmitt’s and Heidegger’s failure, too, if on a different level, for the German thinkers as human beings, not certainly for their thought. Indeed, to the extent we remember Cohen and Rosenzweig it will tend to be, for now, more often as good men than as relevant thinkers, while for Heidegger and Schmitt it will be just the reverse. The starting point for understanding this strange revenge of the disgraced thinkers, a revenge on the level of thought only, might be in the next indication: The catastrophe also can be seen as the necessary condition for the success of the global liberal-democratic project hitherto: for our success, such as it is, including especially whatever success we have had creating a political culture premised on the unacceptability of what Schmitt and Heidegger (also-)thought.

Inhabitants of a culture-state then in the process of destroying itself, both Cohen and Rosenzweig were able also to say other very wrong things, things that are un-sayable today. They speculated freely, Rosenzweig most explicitly, regarding a Judaism of the blood, in other words about a positively racialized Judaism that would be non-contradictorily a Judaic ideal, a Judaic essentialism that was expressly not a Zionist Judaism: a thoroughly and radically beneficent racism, a sacred racism. Though we can retroactively excuse Cohen and Rosenzweig for their possible violations of our prevailing taboos, and even though the latter are expressly conceived to be universally applicable, good for all times and places; though we will do so in somewhat the same way that we habitually excuse representatives of designated oppressed groups for their own modes of self-assertion, or as we may excuse artists and entertainers for superficially inexcusable utterances, if thought to be offered in solidarity, we do not allow ourselves to think those thoughts again or anew. Maintenance of their alternative view on the German-Jewish question, any attempt to explain their prophetic philosophy as confirmed rather than refuted, would, as I have argued before, imply or require an impermissible and impossible theodicy of those profoundly, extremely contradictory events, of genocide and world war – events which Cohen (d. 1918) and Rosenzweig (d. 1929) in contrast to Strauss, never had to witness at all, much less think through.

As for Heidegger, Schmitt, their defenders, and all those suspected of actual or parallel “sympathies,” they will, of course, be denied the protection we extend to the last great and very German, very Jewish philosopher-theologians of the pre-Zionist or Diasporetic Age. The thought of identifying oneself with the Nazis and fellow travelers will be the thought of leaving normal life in liberal-democratic societies behind. We remain defined morally – to ourselves, concretely – by the justice of the physical and ideological destruction of the perverted culture-state that Heidegger and Schmitt literally stood up for in public, and that privately they supported more in spirit than post-war apologetic exercises led some to hope. To recuperate their thought fully or even to consider it fully freely or dispassionately, would also place us within that impermissible and impossible theodicy.

Put differently, the same impermissibility extends both to any full recuperation of Cohen’s and Rosenzweig’s ((and also Hegel’s, and not just Hegel’s)) universal-utopian or messianic prophetic thinking, to their synthesism/syncretism of philosophy as prophecy as philosophy, and to any final justification of Heidegger and Schmitt, even to a merely implied justification or merely implied merely conceivable justification. “The fact of being an anti-semitic Nazi shit,” says a commenter, “is relevant in assessing whether its [sic] worth paying attention to someone’s elaborate philosophical justifications of same”: In other words, some knowledge to us is not to be learned or re-learned, or argued as such, but is to be taken as already firmly known, or as elementary instruction: It has the status of revealed truth for a community of believers, but even describing it as such will be to risk excommunication or to be taken to have demonstrated one’s own incipient self-excommunication. For the true believer revealed truth does not have a “status of revealed truth”: It is truth: Failure to accept it as truth demands punishment, and failure to punish that failure when able to do so will itself constitute failure demanding punishment, and so on, if with gradually decreasing force, suggesting an equation with the value of faith divided by the value of distance on one side.

19 comments on “The Hebraic Heidegger (Another Discussion Not To Be Held)

Commenting at CK MacLeod's

We are determined to encourage thoughtful discussion, so please be respectful to others. We also provide a set of Commenting Options - comment/commenter highlighting and ignoring, and commenter archives that you can access by clicking the commenter options button (). Go to our Commenting Guidelines page for more details, including how to report offensive and spam commenting.

  1. He was wretched Nazi scum, capische, or whatever German words fit,
    A little more sophisticated then the main character who put together the protocols, the tale of which is relayed in Eco’s the Prague Cementery, of that there is no doubt, anymore that Haj Amin Husseini’s collaboration with the 3rd Reich, of course that last would get in the way of Judis’s narrative, if he lived in Egypt he would have worked for Pharoah, in Persia for Haman, in Czarist Russia, a wrangler for Trepov and Ignatiev,

    • …and if he had lived in the United States of America, is there any reason to doubt that he would have worked for the greater glory and deeper conscience of baseball, hot dogs, apple pie, and Chevrolet? If there is such reason, where precisely is it located and how is it to be understood? We’d need to know, because if we don’t know it, precisely, then we have no way of knowing why not, but for the Grace of Being, any one of us would not have ended up with him, and Schmitt, and Furtwangler, and Benn, and Heisenberg, and Von Braun, and millions of other scum and shit and so on, presuming that factors entirely beyond our control or credit had not made any actual choice impossible.

  2. there is no doubt on the subject Von Braun, Fertwangler, et al have all been judged, but as with DeMan, it’s interesting how their wartime influences don’t filter into their desire to destroy the meaning of truth, which is how I regard deconstruction,

  3. Von Braun didn’t exhibit antisemitism, he was a supreme pragmatist like Sebastian Shaw, Fertwangler I don’t recall.

    • Furtwangler was a conductor, considered great. There are recordings of him conducting the Berlin Philharmonic during the war, the one that I recall being, as the American radio presenter put it, a “savage” performance of “The New World Symphony,” in which the sounds of an ongoing aerial bombardment can be made out in the background. I think there is a pronounced element of the reaction toward the Nazis by the likes of Furtwangler and, eventually, Heidegger and Schmitt, that is best expressed in the word spite, in the original sense of looking down upon an object of contempt. Their belief in their own superiority may also have extended to all those who presume to understand them and their actions before, during, or after the war.

  4. I have nothing of substance to add to this discussion.

    Itdoes reminds me of the poem The Comma of God by Milton Kessler, whom both Karen and I studied with. It begins:

    I am nothing compared to the Medicaid sneer
    I am nothing compared to the owner of the door
    I am nothing compared to the elevator of Heidegger

    and ends

    I am nothing compared to the furnaces of Dresden
    I am nothing compared to the last drops of snow
    I am nothing compared to a bicycle with wings
    I am nothing compared to the comma of God

    I don’t know what he meant by “the elevator of Heidegger” but somehow it seems apt.

  5. Indeed, to the extent we remember Cohen and Rosenzweig it will tend to be, for now, more often as good men than as relevant thinkers, while for Heidegger and Schmitt it will be just the reverse. The starting point for understanding this strange revenge of the disgraced thinkers, a revenge on the level of thought only, etc.

    Exquisitely formulated.

    And that for now was, I think, a wise stipulation.

    I watched “Hannah and Her Sisters” for the first time the other night. Max von Sydow, that redoubtable Aryan, is telling his girlfriend about a rare course of TV watching he had undertaken earlier that evening, wherein he’d come across a scholarly discussion of the Holocaust. Naturally, these scholars were wringing their hands and saying, “How could this have happened?” Max von Sydow’s character says, “They ought to ask: how come this doesn’t happen more often?”

    The Holocaust was, of course, a dreadful occurrence; if anyone could have pushed a button to stop or prevent it, they ought to have. But much the same could be said for the Thirty Years’ War or, for that matter, the Peloponnesian War. The difference between these three phenomena is merely quantitative; they aren’t qualitatively different. History’s slaughter bench carries on now as it ever has.

    Heidegger’s or Schmitt’s Nazism, however regrettable in light of subsequent events, doesn’t seem at all incomprehensible to me. They wanted to live in a country of their own people, their own kind. Yes I know–horror of horrors! But if you live in a white neighborhood, then you have at least a germ of understanding how they felt.

    I hate to say it, but I think I really do find Nazi Germany less incomprehensible than contemporary America, where we’re supposed to treat transvestites with the utmost seriousness, while perfectly normal people–for example, rednecks–are to be made a mockery of.

    Is it entirely coincidental that the moral perspective of America’s sophisticated elite perfectly correlates with the worldview of New York Jews of the atheist variety?

    Well, I realize I may be walking a bit of a plank here, CK. But you did say, over on the Cliven Bundy post and thread, that you supported the Spinozistic principle of something like absolutely free inquiry and you furthermore maintained that a liberal democratic political order requires criticism of itself. All regimes are based on untrue assumptions. In my view, there is no more pressing need in the political domain than for free inquiry into the truth of the doctrine of anti-racism.

    As is the case with philosophy generally, the absolute doctrine of anti-racism may be fine for a contemplative wise man, but as a foundational doctrine of political society it is abnormal, unnatural, tendentious.

    • If you live in a black neighborhood, or a rich neighborhood, or a poor neighborhood, or a French-speaking neighborhood, or a Lutheran neighborhood, etc., the same goes – which is the problem. The necessity of the absolute repudiation of the Nazis, above all as makers of (the) (H)olocaust, is implicitly conditioned on that “comprehensibility” you confess. If “again” wasn’t a standing threat, there’d be no good reason to cry “Never again!” For the inexpressibly blunt instrument of mass democratic politics, stamping a bright and indelible “Not An” sign on the Nazi “Option” seems prudent. At one point, when the memory of the war was fresher, it qualified as a sufficient basis for developing and instituting a comprehensive politics simply via any available alternative principle, never mind the details.

      Speaking just for myself, I can acknowledge that the investigation into the doctrine of anti-/racism you describe may be a most pressing need, but, if so, for the same reason it would be an investigation requiring the utmost care, a point I don’t think we can insist on too much. I also don’t think we can safely assert that the Holocaust was not unique or not uniquely, to use Mr. Halasz’s metaphor, a “black hole” for political philosophy (or for religion, ethics, and philosophy in general).

      Along similar lines we could say, for example, that the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth was not a “unique” event, since countless slaves and criminals were crucified, since many more rebels, prophets, preachers, and innocents have been put to death by every kind of regime, and so on and so on: This very insistence would be to treat the perceived meaning of the designation, or what is intended by and for those stressing the uniqueness of the event, into a demonstration of its absurdity: Because the crucifixion stands for everything, it seems to stand for nothing in particular, in this view.

      The question is always of the perspective from which uniqueness is being asserted, and implicitly of the argument for the relative importance or potentially the primacy of that perspective or its principal conditions. As time passes and as different historical questions are raised, it becomes easier (or some would say “tempting”) to put the Holocaust next to other members of a set of Great Evils, as you have done, but, before consigning “Holocaust” to a set entitled Slaughter/Same as It Ever Was, it seems at a minimum worth considering the arguments for difference, why they’re held, what letting go of them might mean.

      Further discussion would call for greater specificity or concreteness. On that note, the Holocaust fits, neatly and awfully (all but completely unspeakably), into the philosophy of world history, an explication I’ll re-attempt again some day. (I didn’t bring up the Crucifixion at random.) In the meantime, to insist again (I did say I don’t think we can do so too much), if we’re going to hold a discussion “not to be held,” let’s do it with appropriate seriousness and care, even if least for ourselves. I’ll also add that, for all of my doubts about the liberals and leftists and liberal democracy and anti-bigot bigots, and so on, it’s not remotely a close call for me – in the sense of whose side I’d prefer to be on or would likely be placed – between the people who today would unanimously consider the idea of that discussion ludicrous at best, more likely something far worse, and those who today still tend to be the ones especially attracted to it or to a certain idea of it. Could be we’d know we were doing well precisely to the extent that the discussion was uninteresting or mystifying, where not simply repellent, to the latter group, and unexpectedly attractive and useful to the former.

      • I began my comment above with an extract from your original post that I more or less praised for its wit. What I found deliciously witty about it was the juxtaposition between the tainted figures Heidegger and Schmitt, whom you term “relevant thinkers” (in Heidegger’s case, perhaps a considerable understatement) and the untainted, though somewhat hapless, pair of Cohen and Rosenzweig, whom you term “good men” (perhaps a bit of an overstatement) but, by implication, irrelevant thinkers.

        Thus we have the dichotomy: good men (i.e. not Nazis)/irrelevant thinkers vs. bad men (i.e. Nazis)/relevant thinkers. In a certain respect, you have set up the question of the relative worth or rank of practical wisdom vis a vis speculative or theoretical wisdom.

        Now as you say, context or perspective is crucial. And if the context were the general or abstract question of which is more to be valued: moral goodness/simple decency or metaphysical/ontological wisdom, then I’d probably be reluctant to choose theory over decency.

        However, the context of the question isn’t general or abstract; the context is the use you’re making of the juxtaposition in the original post, and there–in that context, the context of the extract I highlighted–it seems clear that being a “relevant thinker” (at least for men who aspired to be so) is a higher attainment than to be a good (or perhaps, merely harmless) man but irrelevant thinker (again, for men who aspired to be so but largely failed).

        And in that context you’re eliciting the innate understanding on the part of your reader that theoretical excellence is superior to practical decency. That theoretic wisdom can–in any context whatever–be shown to be superior to practical, moral wisdom should give us pause and perhaps unhinge a little our wishful thinking.

        My whole point about contemporary American hyperliberalism (expressing itself so hysterically in the constellated set of understandings that I term the doctrine of anti-racism, of which Holocaust memorialization is a key component) is that it’s largely grounded in wishful thinking that is so transparently false that, like the Emperor’s new clothes (forgive the cliché) it must soon come undone. Perhaps that will be a regrettable occurrence. Perhaps the cosmos disdains our regret.

        It’s entirely plausible, even likely in my view, that Heidegger will be read and studied seriously a thousand years from now, just as we study Aquinas or Plotinus, etc. today. If he is, part of what the devotees of philosophy of that time will read is Heidegger’s contempt for hyperliberal techno-America. And they’ll be able to compare what is known of subsequent American history to that lofty contempt.

        And, in the meanwhile, a hundred horrors will have intervened themselves between the Holocaust(s) of the twentieth century and that time. The irony will almost certainly be that Heidegger is remembered long after the Holocaust is forgotten.

        • With the “for now” I was trying to point to the possibility that the court of literary history may at any time choose to review and revise its prior rulings. In my own view the judgment against Rosenzweig and Cohen seems based on a reading of history that I find highly questionable. When I referred to how “we tend to remember” them, I was trying to point to the possibility that our preferences or our common interpretations may be unjust in some ways, or anyway shouldn’t be taken as compulsory. Certainly for me, I find them all relevant as thinkers, and I don’t presume that a greater general interest among intellectuals in Heidegger and Schmitt provides any final judgment in favor of their work or against Rosenzweig’s and Cohen’s. Or if history has gone badly or the court is a bad court, then being judged in the wrong or to have failed might be better in any moral sense than to have been vindicated – although this view in turn implies that there is a yet higher court, or that those reporting a final verdict are untrustworthy reporters, or that the case is on appeal.

          The reason that the question on the meaning of the Holocaust is a question for the philosophy of world history is that the philosophy of world history is history as something other than “one damn thing after another,” including one Holocaust after another. World history understood philosophically is a history that means something/anything, in other words a history in which meaning is possible. The reaction of some observers, and of some victim-survivors, has been precisely to treat the Holocaust as a final contradiction of a possible meaning of history, expressed within Judaism as an indictment of God: If being Chosen means being chosen for that, it’s not a position worth having, it’s finally a curse not a blessing, and the God who would so choose would not be a God deserving of praise or worship: Better to be a people like other people: Found or re-found a nation-state that, like all other nation-states, asserts its own necessity as the beginning of possible morality over and against any other assertion that would contradict it, whether claims to the same (Holy) land by another people, or claims in Diasporetic philosophy that statelessness was the sign and guarantee of a special and eternal role of the Jews in world history as a meaningful history. In the philosophical-historical view – which is an “Owl of Minerva flies at dusk” view – Cohen and Rosenzweig represent the peak or final shining forth of Diasporetic philosophy at the moment of its eclipse. Heidegger and Schmitt seem subject to the same syndrome, however: The final solution their German Reich imposed on its other it imposed on itself at the same time, a necessity that can be extracted from Heidegger and Schmitt’s writings.

          We can guess that 1,000 years from now Heidegger will be read, and possibly not any of the others, but we cannot be sure – I think that should be obvious. One implication of his later writings seems to be that is if he is still relevant to the humanity of the year 3000 – if there is a humanity of the year 3000 to which the Western philosophical enterprise is meaningful – then how meaningful is his critique of Western philosophy and of technological nihilism? Nor can we be sure which of his writings will be read, and which considered secondary or dispensable or wrong. Anyway, I do think it’s entirely conceivable that Cohen and Rosenzweig will also be read in 3014 CE or AD, or even that they will be read instead of Heidegger or Schmitt, or read to better purpose. I don’t know if and how any of it would matter, though I’m pretty confident it won’t matter to me!

          • Thank you, CK, for this cogent and interesting response. I think everything you say in it is thoughtworthy.

            I too believe that it is entirely possible that thinkers like Cohen and Rosenzweig have a future, perhaps a highly successful one, despite the current state of their reception. And while I would find it difficult to accept the notion that Heidegger isn’t after all a thinker for the ages, you’re surely right to point out that we can never be certain.

            I think your question concerning the possibility of Heidegger’s being read in the thirty-first century and what that would imply for his own critique of the history of philosophy is a fascinating one. One option would be that his thought is assimilated to the history of philosophy, and one could wonder whether that wouldn’t be an implicit refutation of his thought–though one would also have to consider the possibility of a “bad court”, as you say. Another option would be the possibility that the Contributions portend: that Heidegger is influential in bringing about “another beginning” of thought.

            One point of my comment that I would attempt to sustain is–while the thinkers Cohen, Rosenzweig, Heidegger and Schmitt might all conceivably have a following in the thirty-first century, I think it far less conceivable that Holocaust memorialization will. Nonetheless, the lack of absolute certitude must necessarily apply here as well, I suppose.

            Re: the question of the meaning of history. My comments thus far have reflected a skeptical attitude that is reflexive with me. Like Nietzsche, Heidegger and Strauss I tend to admire premodern civilizations in contradistinction to our own. The reason has a lot do with the following quote from Leo Strauss: “A city is not a city, it is only a defective city, if it is not concerned with the moral character of its associates.” Modern America is a city/country that by design “is not concerned with the moral character of its associates.”

            As time passes, the cautionary tale that is Nazi Germany recedes ever more into the past. As you said in your prior comment, that example once served to promote any political alternative whatever. But from the vantage point of my personal subjectivity, it isn’t fascism or authoritarianism that seems to be the critical issue now but rather anarchic liberalism and democracy. Liberalism purchases a general peace at the price of making one’s country a place not worth living in.

            Given that propensity, it’s difficult for me to subscribe to the philosophy of history, which necessarily presupposes that the transition from antiquity to modernity is a progress. The ancient poleis were parochial and they existed in a perilous and warlike relation one to another. But they were not defective cities, unconcerned with the moral character of their associates.

            One has to pick one’s poison–I think this may be the paradox of history, if you like. Peace or virtue. But peace is optional, whilst virtue is mandatory.

    • its amazing how little credibility you garner when you express disgust in having to be decent to transvestites

      it almost sounds like you could have something distinct to say before you smear your fresh excrement on human decency

      on behalf of all non-fascists, rednecks, and ordinary people of any gender, please crawl back into your hole and watch your Benny Hinn marathon

      • …the above comment, which I believe was directed at another commenter, not at me, at least reaches and probably crosses over the acceptability line for this or really any discussion at this blog. Criticizing language and stance, even in very strong terms, is one thing, which I would even encourage; personal vituperation is another.

        As for discussing “transvestites” when I think you all certainly mean something else, with no clear relevance to the main topic anyway… I’ll worry about that tomorrow.

  6. Now one recalls however, the Second International’s attack on the Social Democrats as Social Fascists, this knocked them out of contention in the post Bruening coalition government, which ultimately yielded to the Nazis, which is ironic how the Communist then painted themselves as ‘premature antifascists’ since they had enabled the Nazis rise to power,

  7. The question concerning (specifically) Heidegger being read in 1000 yrs raises another question: Read by whom, or more precisely, by what?

    Heidegger’s faith (rather than pessimism) in the saving power of art is widely dismissed, not even referred to. If this pessimism turns out to be true, then in 1000 yrs the machines will have eaten us, or simply disregarded us creating a world that no longer holds us.

Commenter Ignore Button by CK's Plug-Ins

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *