Heidegger : Further Investigations
Lecture on Martin Heidegger (1889—1976)
Dr. Ronald Jeremiah Schindler
Nota bene: ‘Only in dying can I to some extent say absolutely, “”I am.”’
This quotation is taken from The History of the Concept of Time.
Heidegger writes about the facticity of death in order to destroy the underpinnings of metaphysics, which he thought he accomplished in his writings. Being and Dasein are not exactly coincidental concepts. Being is in the world and what encompasses it in all its facets. Dasein has to do with a person’s being thrown into a world not of his own making.
Ultimately, he thought of Dasein as a Volksgemeinschaft with its own historicity. Heidegger thought that the national consciousness of Germany and its fate was bound up with Hitler and the National Socialist Movement. After the collapse of the Third Reich, he identified its Destiny with the German language as being the only one that speaks the language of ontology.
Heidegger detested the notion of Gesellschaft of modern, industrial society where people are mutually indifferent to each with no ties to blood and soil. He sought that in Gemeinschaft, or the sense, of organic, countryside solidarity, rather than the mechanical mass society where man is hyphenated to Das Man. He demonized the Soviet Union and the United States equally in that he thought that their respective technological mentalities (and superiority) destroyed individuality and the capacity to think Being philosophically. Heidegger did not think that Hitler was radical enough. Heidegger put a premium on tradition and authority. To be able to find truth is to be a revolutionary in thinking, although that truth was buried in the past and had to be excavated. Technology led us to a forgetting our heroic past and a falling away from truth into living trivial existences as mere empirical beings with no common orientation to, or understanding of the greatness inherent in the German nation. The authentic man had to find that opening in Being that led him to the future by uncovering the past and its communal forms.
The reductio ad absurdum of Heidegger is his anti-Semitism. His application of Being and Time’s concepts were the embodiment of all that was alien and evil in the German nation. Particularly, he castigated the Jews as the bearers of the Enlightenment who in their quest for equality sought to level all peoples down to their fallenness by advocating the reasons that led to a commercial and material society. They could never be part of Das Volk because of their racial impurity. Heidegger, hence, was a leading anti-Enlightenment philosopher who was reactionary in that he believed that by blood sacrifices Germany could restore itself to its former glory as the nation above all. Of course, state racism with its public policies of total exclusion led invariably to the genocide of the Jews in the name of goals of the deluded masses who were intoxicated by the omnipotence of thought. There never could be a good Jew, only a dead one.
After the war, Gadamer greeted Heidegger with a pithy question: “Returned from Syracuse?” Of course, this allusion was to Plato’s two trips to Syracuse, Sicily, in his attempt to ingratiate himself to a tyrant who really was not disposed toward being enlightened; neither was Hitler so disposed to be open to new paths in thinking or rethinking ideological notions that indicated deep pathology not only in Der Fuehrer but in all his followers.
Heidegger hated democracy with a passion. In particular, he talked about Das Man, who is the alienated, despiritualized person of modern times. Being, the opposite, is the Being who calls Dasein into existence. That is the meaning of authenticity. He finds himself in the Volksgemeinschaft of the age of heroes in the Teutonic forests. Of course, such a golden age never existed. The person loses himself in the German language, which is the only language in which philosophy can speak, so he can realize himself in an organic unity whereby subject and object diremption are finally overcome. Hitler was not radical enough for Heidegger. Hitler’s fascination with military conquests led him to make concessions to Gesellschaft that conflicted with Heidegger’s more pure German-ness. Gesellschaft by nature is inherently metastable and leads to a situation where the sum of the parts is less than the whole, which is the quintessence of World Alienation whereby man does not have a home in the world.