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“The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.”

Well, you know, Heidegger said… 

Always makes me feel a little pretentious and generally, though I have yet to experience it, has me wincing- waiting for what I think is inevitable: But you know he was a… 

Heidegger and quite a few others really illustrate how our perceptions of others are most definitely- and should be, defined by our associations to a certain degree. If you’re not into philosophy, you’ve likely heard of Neitzche or others, at least seen their quotes splattered on some graphic passed around social media. Though you probably haven’t seen Heidegger done the same, Being and Time is an absolutely vital, brilliant work. I would argue that if you’re looking for “quotable”, Heidegger’s got quite a few. (You could, also do yourself a favor and think rather than regurgitate. That would be awesome, too. This is far from snotty- I wanna hear what you think and feel about things. Not just watch you parrot them. Opposite of snobby. Very interested, in fact.)

So, why don’t you?

Because he was a Nazi.

I don’t think it’s just that, either- but the fact that he was not only quite openly supportive and not at all begrudgingly as some others were: but also fairly unapologetic about the whole thing, though he would later refer to it as “the biggest stupidity of my life” and I’ve often wondered if perhaps the fact that both of his sons were fighting in WW2 didn’t have an influence, here. I think though the thing is, you get into all of the “Okay well maybe…”s of it but even as you do that, realize: Heidegger was also about as close to being one of the first Holocaust deniers as you can get having actually, you know, been around for it. I don’t really understand how anyone can possible study or engage in talks about Heidegger’s Black Notebooks- and pretend that Oh well, yeah, sure he was a Nazi but let’s not think about that. 

I can’t tell you how many people I’ve tutored in philosophy who didn’t know anything about Heidegger who found themselves more or less blinking and really conflicted by this. The fact is, if you’re really fully exploring consciousness from a philosophical point of view- Heidegger’s work, across the board, is a hefty and worthy addition to this. If you’ve got yourself in a place where you feel like you have to “Choose Column A or B” when it comes to scientific or spiritual, he tends to be the Aha! moment. Except, then comes the “Oh man, are you fucking shitting me?!” 

Well, welcome to philosophy, dear. Pull up a goddamn chair, you’re gonna need it. A lot of people opt to kind of sweep his affiliation under the rug or try to just sort of awkwardly avoid it- which is ironic as hell for a number of reasons I will get to later.

Let’s look at another example-

Someone you might be a little more familiar with- Chandra Mohan Jain, otherwise known as Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh but now more commonly known as Osho. Not a Nazi. Stop, wrong color of stun gun for that particular sacred cow.

However, here is a man you will literally see quotes ALL OVER. And with good reason. I happen to be very fond of a lot of Osho’s writing. I already knew quite a bit about him before watching Wild, Wild Country on Netflix- but, if you’re quoting Osho profusely: you may want to check that out if you didn’t already know these things. Every now and again somebody gets incredibly smug with me: Oh you know he…

Or oh you know she depending on whoever I am quoting and I sort of want to go, “I can’t fart without over-analyzing it. Could you fucking not?” So, please don’t get me wrong. That’s not at all what I am trying to do with this. In fact, given the essence of philosophy, or shit, even psychology- knowing the backgrounds and understanding them of anyone you quote is really pretty awesome. Not knowing is, too- believe it or not. Granted, hearing Osho explode like a jilted “nice guy” on national television may well change your perception of his quotes about love and it probably should. Knowing that Heidegger was a supporter of the National Socialist movement, well, it’ll probably give you a bit of a different understanding about his quotes on family and children.

That is how this shit works.

This is why simply quoting bugs me- I mean, it’s really a convenient thing at times. You know, you see something that resonates, so you hit share or whatever. I get that.

In Heidegger’s case, let me give you a for example-

Who is to determine what the perfect is? It could only be those who are themselves perfect and who therefore know what it means. Here yawns the abyss of that circularity in which the whole of human Dasein moves. What health is, only the healthy can say. Yet healthfulness is measured according to the essential starting point of health. What truth is, only one who is truthful can discern; but the one who is truthful is determined according to the essential starting point of truth.

-Nietzsche (1961)

And this is heady shit, right here. Early Heidegger, in particular, is enchanting. It really is. (The above is obviously not early Heidegger- but whooooey, talking and thinking about Nietzsche’ll bring you a whole ‘nother world of conflict should you go there, too. I often wonder if he did when he wrote it. If you enjoy Nietzsche, you’ll dig what Heidegger wrote about him in this.) I have seen a lot of people, however, take one look at some of what he said about Jews and completely “WHOAH FUCK NO.” and I understand this, entirely. He said, believed and did some absolutely stomach turning, revolting things. Quite a few of those things were a bit conflicting, too: if you were non-Aryan, he’d push to deny you financial aid and yet- he pushed and tried to keep Jewish professors from being fired at Freiburg University where he was rector. (Which is essentially, University President.)

The thing of it is, it doesn’t particularly matter who you’re discussing, who you’re quoting, who you’re studying or thinking about: to separate them from their lives- their very human lives- is so much more fallacious than those who refuse to read them, after these kinds of discoveries. Aspects of our society, our cultures, and otherwise- this same thing holds true. I am ardently anti-banning, anti-whitewashing: yet, I understand this so much more than I do to whistle a happy tune, dance along the buffet of humanity and only pluck out that which you like. You know how you get that which you like?

From a human being or groups of human beings, you probably wouldn’t, at least, not all the time. There isn’t a single culture, a single human being, any group, any thinker, any religion- okay, look, you read one person, get upset because you find they just fucking suck and try to move on to another? Good luck with it. (THOUGH I do think Fred Rogers MAY actually be The Dude With No Skeletons or Surprises Whatsoever. Though I feel like he’d probably tell you himself he was not without his warts- sometimes, just sometimes, you do get a really, really good human. I think Mr. Rogers may have been one.)

I don’t justify anything but I also do not deny it. I truly do not. There are many things you simply can’t justify and probably shouldn’t want to- but, actually understanding them and acknowledging Yes, this shit fucking happened. is absolutely important.

You also make nothing right in pretending it did not happen.  But that’s another rant, for another time.

 

 

2 thoughts on ““The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.” Leave a comment

  1. “Because he was a Nazi.”

    Heidegger was, more properly stated, a patriot. He hated to see 2 million German men die during WW1, followed by the crushing financial sanctions wrought by the Treaty of Versailles. As Henry Ford pointed out, the German representatives that signed that treaty were nearly all Jewish: i.e Haase, Landsberg, Herzfeld, Schiffer, Cohn, Bernstein, etc.

    So Heidegger veered towards a nationalistic sentiment that was weary of Jewish machinations.

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    • Generally speaking if you ever see me lob something like that- this, or otherwise: it tends to be…I can’t think of the word. I think there’s this tendency to downplay the significance of a lot of people in that way- you know, more or less “THEY KICKED PUPPIES SO FUCK ‘EM THE ASSHOLES” and I dislike that. Though, as I mention: I kind of prefer that to the ones who want to pretend these things weren’t a part of those people’s lives. I am not sure if that makes sense but, anyway. Lol It was less ME throwing the blanket condemnation and more explaining the controversy.

      I’m not so sure that was the full extent of his reasoning but it was certainly a large part of it. One thing that really struck me both affirmatively and negatively at the same time was this: he was known to have called students on the carpet for simply parroting the party line- and I think that illustrates that he did in fact want people to deeply consider things. That said, it means that he did. Having read through quite a bit of these things that are available as well as a bunch of arguments about it- I would feel somewhat uncomfortable trying to discern a solid reasoning. I think it was a lot of factors- and, I feel like you’re probably correct in stating what he saw during WW1 was one of them, particularly when you do consider in WW2, both of his sons were not just fighting but also imprisoned by the Russians in POW camps.

      At the same time, in studying this and thinking about it- as I said, I do think about the things he’d written about family that I’d read well before I knew anything about the Black Books and all that, and even after that- I can definitely see why it all held quite a bit of appeal for him. Additionally- I mean, it wasn’t like it didn’t also appeal to his ambition: that’s a pretty lofty position he obtained and that would be pretty motivating as well, and it was for a lot of people, I think. He was a pretty ardent supporter- but, I mean, not everyone given honors and position was as ardent: Melitta von Stauffenberg definitely didn’t seem to but, her ambition, drive, and talent certainly seemed like it overcame her objections. (Not sure I wanna get into the conspiracies, there- be here all day. Lol FASCINATING stuff, though.)
      Point is, she isn’t entirely an isolated case, and I’ve seen argument that it may have been his ambition but, I don’t really think so. Didn’t hurt, that’s for sure but I think what you mention here very likely was a MUCH larger factor.

      One of the biggest issues as I see it with philosophy students and the like in particular is that when you get into things like this: there is still a tendency to emotionalize things and not to think them through. Of course, this does not apply to those who just write it off, you know, dealbreaker the whole thing- but, if the point is in thinking, observing, exploring and you try to dance around the truth, how on earth can you really begin to discuss Heidegger? My preference in such matters has always been “This was his truth, so why was it?” and I think a lot of people seem to believe that if you do that, you agree or endorse- which is weird to me beyond comprehending.

      Like

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