Francesco Alfieri, Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann: Martin Heidegger. La vérité sur ses «Cahiers noirs», Gallimard, 2018

Martin Heidegger. La vérité sur ses «Cahiers noirs» Book Cover Martin Heidegger. La vérité sur ses «Cahiers noirs»
Francesco Alfieri , Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. Trad. de l'allemand et de l'italien par Pascal David
Broché 36,50 €

Andrew J. Mitchell, Peter Trawny (Eds.): Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: Responses to Anti-Semitism

Heidegger's Black Notebooks: Responses to Anti-Semitism Book Cover Heidegger's Black Notebooks: Responses to Anti-Semitism
Andrew J. Mitchell, Peter Trawny (Eds.)
Columbia University Press
Paperback $30.00 / £24.95

Reviewed by: Joeri Schrijvers (Independent Scholar)

Heidegger’s Black Notebooks. Responses to Anti-Semitism is a collection of essays in which an impressive gathering of scholars interprets Heidegger’s statements in the now notorious Black Notebooks. The book contains the conference proceedings of a symposium at Emory University. The essays vary in length and most of them respond to Peter Trawny’s interpretation of Heidegger’s antisemitism in his Freedom to Fail. Heidegger’s Anarchy and Heidegger and the Myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy.

There is little doubt that the Notebooks show Heidegger at his worst. Most of the commentaries agree on the rather poor intellectual quality of the notebooks, packed with repetitive arguments and personal lamentations as they are. In this volume, complaints are made against the “philosophical kitsch” (40), against the “sour mood” (76) of the “man with a worldview” (92) and so on. What matters most, however, are those “unfortunately unforgettable” (134) passages in which Heidegger inserts Judaism into the grand scheme of the ‘history of being’. The ‘Responses to Anti-Semitism’ in this book vary from pointing to the extreme stereotyping with which Heidegger proceeds to trying to understand Heidegger’s argumentation and detecting their value, if any. Several of the contributors, Sander Gilman and Robert Bernasconi especially, emphasize that Heidegger was part of the long-standing tradition of antisemitism in European culture—and students of philosophy, today, should not forget that in Heidegger’s time, in Germany, it was harder not to be a Nazi than to actually be one as the majority of Germans followed Hitler and his regime.

As for antisemitism in German philosophy, one can find in the volume rather embarrassing statements of Kant, Hegel and Fichte. Philosophers, though, are seldom saints. In this regard, it is good to recall that Derrida has famously pointed to similar occurrences of denigrating Eurocentrism not only in Fichte’s work but also in Husserl’s: responding to Heidegger’s antisemitism, we will have to ponder what exactly the difference is between Husserl’s exclusion of “Eskimos, Indians, travelling zoos or gypsies” from ‘spiritual Europe’ and Heidegger’s awkward remarks about “semitic nomads” in the seminar Nature, History, State or the exclusion of the “Negros” from time and history proper in Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language speaks.[i]

I will not do Heidegger the honor of repeating the passages of these Notebooks in full. Peter Gordon argues that “much of the antisemitic material found in the Schwarze Hefte”, are not “terribly surprising, since [they] largely confir[m], though [they] gave a certain added philosophical depth to, the evidence that was already available in disparate sources” (136). This philosophical depth, in a way, is what Peter Trawny calls ‘being-historical anti-Semitism’. Heidegger’s error, however, is not the insertion of a petite philosophical concept in the grander system of his history of being. Rather, it is that much of the language the Schwarze Hefte uses to describes Judaism can lend itself to the must vulgar of racisms. The Jews are said to be without world, without time, without history—everything, in short, that would make for a ‘proper’ human being. Judaism has contributed, Heidegger says, and perhaps even caused the ‘forgetting of being’ because they supposedly do nothing else than calculate and swindle. And so on. It is good to be clear, too, about how shocking Heidegger’s ontic comportment towards his fellow Jews was. These facts are known: his rectorship, addressing his audience under the aegis of the swastika, his involvement in the Gleichschaltung or nazification of Freiburg University… All these things should never stop shocking us, readers of Heidegger.

Prior to the Schwarze Hefte, it was all too common to separate the man from the thinker and his philosophy: the man Heidegger certainly has its flaws, it was said, but his philosophy by no means had a predilection toward Nazism. The reasoning was anything but flawless and the Schwarze Hefte make clear just how well Heidegger’s views of ‘world Jewry’ fit into his narrative of the history of being. Such a ‘being-historical anti-Semitism’ means that Judaism actively has contributed to the ‘forgetting of being’: its scheming supposedly makes for the fact that all we do now is reckon with beings; its conspiracy such that it is Jews only who benefit from this ‘destruction’ of the earth, the Verwüstung der Erde of which the later Heidegger speaks. Just as Christian antisemitism will blame the Jews for their Gottesverlassenheit, so Heidegger use the Jews as a scapegoat for our Seinsverlassenheit. This antisemitism would have offended almost no one in the 1920s and 1930s. What is noteworthy in Heidegger’s history of being, is that no one, apart from the Greeks and of course the Germans, could any longer ‘hear’ the ‘voice of being’ and that the Jews were forever excluded from this possibility to hear the signals, the Winke, ‘beyng’ was supposedly sending. The antisemitism lies in the fact that the ‘ontological make-up’ of the Jews is such that they are unable to come up with an ontology. For Heidegger, this was the worst indictment possible. It would mean that Jews were condemned to inauthenticity and that no voice of conscience would extricate them, even if only instantaneously, from the field of the ‘anyone’. Just as they would remain deaf to being, the ‘being-historical’ antisemitism denotes that being will remain forever deaf to them.

Trawny’s essay speaks in this regard of an “apocalyptic reduction” (5).[ii] This ‘apocalyptic reduction’ is a sort of superstructure to the ontic and ontological realm of which Being and Time spoke, although both realms are now assigned certain histories: certain ontic ‘people’ are attuned to ontology and to being more specifically. On the one hand, there’s the great Greeks who had an experience of being, phusis, that soon came to be forgotten and now, urgently, lest the earth be destructed, needs to be ‘repeated’. This repetition falls to the Germans: only the Germans can lead the other people into the sending and the spreading of being. Apart from these two people, no one and no other culture has anything proper to contribute to the question of being: not the Romans who degraded the experience of the Greeks, not the Christians who imitated and so weakened the experience of ‘Rome’, not the ontotheologically sedated Christians of the Middle Ages, not the narcissistic consciousness of the moderns, and certainly not the Americans, the English or the Russian who only contribute to the spreading (Austrag) of a very limited experience of being, namely the experience of Machenschaft and Gestell, one that can only reckon with beings and knows no longer of being.

Heidegger did sense that something was ending. Several papers in this volume seem to agree that this narrative, the narrative of a first beginning in Greece and a second, other beginning in Germany, now has to be abandoned. This, however, need not mean that Heidegger overstated the ‘end’ of metaphysics. What is needed, Peter Gordon argues, is a “critical appropriation” (149) of Heidegger’s insights concerning the “dismantling” of metaphysics (147) and the concomitant effort of “working out the ‘unthought’ in the thought of the canonical texts” (150). Bernasconi, likewise, states that the forms of oppression that slipped into the canon of philosophy should be addressed and that the impetus for this comes from Heidegger (184). Heidegger’s thought perhaps comes with its own “unthought”, or, as Michael Marder signals, with “the thoughtless […] in the midst of rigorous thought” (101).

We should be aware, as Peter Gordon argues, that “Heidegger himself chose to yoke together his complaints about the metaphysical tradition with crude and counterfactual generalizations about the Jews” (147). Just as we cannot separate the man from the thinker, so too Heidegger has ‘yoked together’ the ontic and the ontological. It is this that we must ponder (and I think this is one of the lessons of the Notebooks). We must be careful about this mix between the ontic and the ontological, for it easily leads to errors. Even if one wants to distance oneself from Heidegger or leave, like Levinas, the ‘climate of this philosophy’, this needs some “intellectual effort”.[iii] For instance, Eduardo Mendieta reads Heidegger’s antisemitic remarks about the supposed ‘worldlessness’ of the Jews into the ‘worldlessness’ of which Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik speaks (51). Yet what Heidegger denies to Judaism is not the same as what he denies to animals, for it would not be possible to attribute calculation and number to animals. There is no easy, immediate link between the antisemitic outbursts of the Notebooks and the other works. Bettina Bergo similarly seems to imply, in her suggestive but somewhat obscure essay, that Heidegger’s difference between ontological ‘dying’ and ontic ‘perishing’ might also be valid for those that came to ‘perish’ in the camps (73).

Yet we should not minimize Heidegger’s ontic failures. One must philosophize with care here, though, for the following line needs quite some elaboration: “To overcome this anti-Semitism, then, will require to overcome metaphysics” (xxv). The sentence rings well in a conference brochure, but, in print, needs some extra argument. One of the things to keep in mind, as the introduction also states, when it comes to Heidegger’s antisemitism is that we should not minimize these antisemitic passages as if these were mere ‘ontic’ slips. Even though there is but ten sentences or so amidst 1800 pages of Notebooks that are clearly antisemitic, one must state just as well that one cannot be a Nazi just a little bit. Others have argued that, even though the man Heidegger clearly had his flaws, his thinking in no way whatsoever has anything to do with Nazism (xx-xxi)—these responses maximize Heidegger’s ‘ontology’ as it were, which supposedly is devoid of anything ontic. I think the Notebooks clearly contradict the latter claim and agree with the claim that Heidegger went astray somewhere at the end of Being and Time when he started to speak of the ‘destiny’ of a people. There is in effect a bit of an army in Being and Time; Levinas was not wrong when he sensed that community in Heidegger isn’t more than marching together.[iv] If one should not exclusively focus on these ontic missteps nor, for that matter, on the ontological being-historical antisemitism, where to go then?

Trawny’s earlier book helps here: “what happens to philosophy when we attempt to exclude it in advance from the danger of anti-Semitism? […] Overcoming anti-Semitism can only succeed by drawing near to it […] The opinion that it is always others who are anti-Semites is a cop-out. It is ‘I’ who am the anti-Semite”.[v] What both of the above strategies share is in effect a sort of immunization: the ‘ontic’ approach states that these passages are so minimal that one can still read Heidegger as if nothing has happened; the other ‘ontological’ approach will state that this antisemitism was there from the start and is, in effect, everywhere, so that one does not have to read Heidegger (pretty much what they had ‘in advance’ decided). The first response to antisemitism, or to racism more generally, would therefore be not to exclude ourselves from these traditions and, second, to acknowledge that the lowest of vulgarities can mix with the highest of philosophy. This first point is present in some contributions in this volume. Bernasconi’s essay is clear that Heidegger’s “accusers feed their sense of self-righteousness” (169). There is a real (and thoroughly unphilosophical) danger of selective indignation here: why are we appalled by Heidegger’s endeavors, but not so much by Husserl’s? Why can we still read Kant even when his anti-Judaism is as offending as Heidegger’s?

Bernasconi admonishes that the ‘intellectual effort’ needed to understand Heidegger’s failings now includes “racism, sexism, and Islamophobia” so that “scrutinizing Heidegger is […] the start of a larger inquiry or whether it is being conducted merely to make us feel morally superior” (185). Richard Polt warns that the Notebooks should make us think about “Heidegger’s limitations and our own” (97). Instead of rejecting Heidegger, instead of an unjustified reverence for the grand thinker of being, I think the more sober response would be to state that no one is immune for the projection of prejudices of all kinds into one’s thinking.

The supposed history of being might have led Heidegger to tell a totalitarian tale himself. The ‘apocalyptic reduction’ was such that he felt surrounded by beings and abandoned by beyng. Polt elucidates the steps of this reduction: first, there is the description of the “catastrophe” happening to culture through forgetting being and the rule of beings, then the stress on the rescue through those few who are capable of addressing the voice of being, and finally the complete disillusionment when this narrative doesn’t sit well with what was really happening.       Though the first stage might be harmless (although one must be wary of ‘apocalyptical tones’), it is in the second stage of this reduction that Heidegger went astray, even ontically: for a while there he must have believed in Hitlerism and the ‘inner truth’ of this movement to lead European culture back onto the right track (whatever that might be). Jaspers once wrote that Heidegger wanted to ‘educate’ the Führer and there is in effect a long section in Nature, History, State on who would be capable to attend to the Führer intellectually.[vi] Martin Gessmann’s essay points out that Heidegger wanted to execute the politics of Being and Time and lead an entire people, as it were, into authenticity (123). It seems the case that Heidegger himself quickly became disillusioned with National Socialism and by 1935-36 the critique of the movement grows. As Polt writes: “Heidegger loses […] faith that the […] inception can be provoked by a nationalist revolution; it becomes [an] elusive possibility to be explored by poets and thinkers” (80).

Not everyone is authentic, and certainly not the ‘anyone’ (das Man) of which Being and Time speaks: it takes a certain resoluteness and courage to take up this authenticity—even though, this ‘authentic stance’ is never permanent and, most often, bound to fail.[vii] It becomes more problematic when authenticity is reserved for this people rather than the other and certain ethnos is excluded from finding ‘its’ destiny and Heidegger forgets his admonishments in Being and Time with regard to such authenticity: ‘Germany’ now can take up, without failing, and without limit (at least thousand years!) its destiny.

Politics did make its way into his writings during his—brief but real—Nazi period. In his commentary on Nature, History, State, Bernasconi shows that “the project [known as] ‘the overcoming of metaphysics’ was initially developed in [the] context of a questioning of the Volk” because, soon after Being and Time’s Destruktion of the metaphysical tradition, this thematic will be replaced by an Überwindung of metaphysics.[viii] Heidegger entertained briefly the very ontic belief that national socialism would liberate us once and for all from metaphysics and its forgetting of being. The essence of this movement is to attune us once again to being. Whereas the Destruktion of 1927 means that one needs to work through and with the tradition in order to move forward and press into the future, the Überwindung of 1933 means that the time is ripe to overturn this tradition, to violently struggle against it, and leave it behind entirely—like many other Nazis, Heidegger became increasingly hostile to Christianity. The theme of ‘overcoming metaphysics’ stuck with Heidegger precisely because of this ontic belief in its overcoming, and the ontic role Hitler’s Nazism and Heidegger himself could play in its overturning. This has the consequence that, soon after his disillusionment with National Socialism, the movement in a sense is ‘in’ and ‘out’ of metaphysics at the same time: during his Nazi period, Heidegger believed that the ‘moment’ had come to liberate ourselves (or Germany at least) from metaphysics and that Nazism would do just this. Only a few months later, Heidegger noticed that National Socialism had, frankly, no interest in the philosophical ‘upliftment’ of humanity whatsoever, and could not but conclude that the movement itself was part and parcel of the metaphysical tradition the thinker then sought to ‘overcome’. After the ontic belief in the supposed ‘saving power’ of Nazism, Heidegger believed that metaphysics persisted.

It is, however, still Heidegger who is deciding who is in and who is out. In Of Spirit, Derrida mentions the presence of two “vibrations at the same time”[ix] in Heidegger, namely one that believed that this movement could embody the ‘spirit’ needed to tune in to being and another, more vague and more truthful use of spirit, stating that the ‘spirit’ of being remains ungraspable and absent. But this is not yet what is going on in Heidegger’s thinking here. Heidegger, when criticizing the movement, did perhaps no longer believe that this totalitarian rule awoke us to being, but he was very clear in naming instances that certainly could not incarnate the ‘spirit’ of being. This act of ‘naming’ who is in and who is out, itself, might be the mistake that led Heidegger to the gravest of opinions ontically: it is in any case ‘the cop-out’ that Trawny mentions.

Such ontic belief that philosophy could act upon the events of world history should concern us. Many of the contributors here agree that this mix between ontic beliefs and ontological viewpoints led Heidegger into error. We should ponder how such a link is to be conceived. Even in 1927 Heidegger acknowledged the ‘ontic ideal’ underlying his ontology, even when insisting on separating ontology from all things ontic. One might conceive a phenomenology that disturbs Heidegger’s neat distinction between ‘ontic’ fear and ontological anxiety for death, by thinking of ontic figures that incarnate this anxiety concretely: a terminal sickness has both ontic and ontological aspects—my death can announce itself quite concretely by this or that cancer, this or that hospital room, etc.

Yet when Heidegger links his ontology to ontic politics something goes wrong and Heidegger himself forgets that he is not immune to the things that he was warning against, namely metaphysics and instrumental rationality. Just as the ontic figures of National Socialism crept into Heidegger’s story of new beginnings, just so these figures had to take the blame for the absence of the need for another beginning. Marder argues that here “‘world Jewry’ is metaphysically deployed and loaded with the dirty work of world destruction” (99) and an utter absence of questioning becomes clear. Gessmann gestures similarly: it simply “gets scary once […] the history of Being is transformed into a ‘world-event [Weltereignis]’” (122). Yet when nothing happens, Gessmann argues, Heidegger turns to Nietzsche: a militaristic metaphysics of the will sets in around 1932. This disillusion is what we need to understand, for this history of being is such that, in becoming totalitarian, it becomes utterly detached from the actual events around Heidegger. Jean-Luc Nancy senses this when saying that all this talk about the ‘Es gibt’ of being ends up by caring very little about what is actually being given and happening.[x] Nothing that is happening will ever be able to falsify Heidegger’s history of being: it becomes totalitarian in the very precise sense that everything will fit into its grander narrative—if anything happens, say the heeding of the call of being in Germany, it will find its place in this history; likewise, if the feeling even the affliction of the Seinsverlassenheit is absent, it will similarly fit into the grander narrative of being. Heidegger always wins, but at the expense of an indifference and alienation that still needs to be understood.

For such an apocalyptic reduction puts the philosopher in the position of overseeing the world and its state of the affairs and he or she becomes the cosmotheoros. The problem with such an overseeing of world is not the least that the philosopher thinks himself able to pinpoint solution to the world’s problems. Bernasconi notes this tendency toward total understanding: “[distinctive is] the totalizing way in which his thought comes to operate. For Heidegger, almost everything belonging to Western metaphysics amounts to the same” (181). Heidegger obviously is not the first philosopher who claimed to comprehend ‘being and beings in their entirety’: it is this claim that he first condemned as ontotheology and to which he too succumbs in the 1930s. To explain this, one might consult the awkward passage (GA 94: 523)—mentioned here by Hans Gumbrecht—where Heidegger enlists the decisive moments in the “abyssal” history of Germany starting from ‘1806’ when Hölderlin went mad […] right up to “(9/26/1889)”—Heidegger’s birthday no less.

Here we once again have the (ontotheological) phantasm that one being (from within) would be able to grasp the entirety of beings (from without). We agree with Jeff Malpas’ recent reading of the Notebooks, when writing that, when disillusioned with politics, “Heidegger turns […] to the absolute primacy of the philosophical, withdrawing into a form of philosophical […] isolation […] even of philosophical alienation (a standing apart from the superficial and the mundane), in which the concern with being is given priority over everything else, including the political”.[xi]

This totalitarian way of thinking also shows itself in what Žižek calls “the obscenely pseudo-Hegelian way” (189) of Heidegger’s thought and which Polt elucidates as Heidegger’s “trope of finding sameness in oppositions” (86). The ‘intellectual effort’ required from us will be to discern when such ‘sameness’ actually was found and when it was not. This means that we need to take our distances from Heidegger’s dialectic and admit, for instance, that his wordplay is not always and everywhere convincing and that the attempt to write a ‘grand narrative’ of being perhaps is not the best his philosophy has to offer.

Several contributors point to such obscenities in the Notebooks. Žižek (on page 189) mentions Heidegger’s awkward thoughts on the “self-annihilation” (GA 97: 19) of the Jews, which in the history of being supposedly function as “a principle of destruction” (GA 97: 20). Heidegger seems to be dead serious in his victim blaming: the ones who have destroyed being will be destroyed themselves. Such ontic metaphors incite Krell to speak of an “unforgiving” tragic collapse and a “failure of thinking” in Heidegger, who often repeated that if being had abandoned us, this oblivion lay on the side of being and all beings would equally share in this abandonment.[xii] In a way, this act of name-dropping thus collapses the ontological difference between being and beings. Whether it concerns naming the ones able to attune us to being or naming those that are to blame for its forgetting, the mode of procedure remains identical. For Žižek, the ontological difference is understood as a “materialis[m] without regressing to an ontic view”, a difference between ‘good’ and ‘bad’ beings (200). It is to acknowledge that “reality is partial, incomplete […] and the Supreme being is the illusion imagined in order to fill in (obfuscate) this lack” (194). It is to forget that there is no final overlap between the signifier and the signified. Yet this lack is obfuscated when one turns to the divine as the ultimate signifier as well as when stating that certain people embody the call of being uniquely. The difference, one might say, is then inhabited (by a certain name) but no longer ausgehalten (in the nothing as Heidegger would say).

This ‘naming’ shows itself precisely when Heidegger ‘finds sameness in oppositions’. Marder speaks of a “complexio oppositorum” (110) that refuses to do its dialectical work. Then “international Jewry” in Heidegger becomes a ‘name’, a rigid designator that contains what cannot be contained: Judaism is worldless nomadism and yet they are cosmopolites, both pacifists that won’t fight for their country yet use a “imperialistic-warlike way of thinking” (GA 96:133) conquering the world—not unlike contemporary racism where certain people are depicted simultaneously as ‘poor’ and as ‘stealing our jobs’.

Polt mentions another example of Heidegger’s dialectic, for in these years Heidegger sees no difference between Nazi eugenics and Jewish attention to who counts as part of the chosen people. Both “reflect a calculative management of genetic resources” (86). Still later, Heidegger infamously sees no difference between gas chambers and industrial production.

I have no quibble admitting that these thoughts can be totalitarian. This does not mean, however, that this thinking cannot make us think and does in effect sometimes find sameness in opposition where one would not expect this. I similarly have no need of separating the man from the thinker and agree with Tom Rockmore’s statement that one needs to “surpass” (158) this distinction, for this philosophy is as affected by totalitarian antisemitism as the man himself was. Yet Rockmore’s argument is hardly convincing: it is not because the man and the thinker are related that this man cannot have thought great thoughts (even though, admittedly, not all these thoughts were great). Rockmore’s examples (which surfaced already in this review) to prove that Heidegger’s “being-historical anti-Semitism belongs less to the narrative about the history of being than to what one can call familiar German philosophical anti-Semitism” (163) prove exactly that—but also just that: that Heidegger was a child of his time, that he entertained a philosophical nationalism and that he too was prejudiced (as much as the next guy, I’d add). It seems Rockmore himself operates in quite the totalitarian manner: “once one admits that [anti-Semitism] is present anywhere in Heidegger’s theories, it almost immediately becomes visible […] everywhere or almost everywhere” (154). Here too some differences, between philosophy and opinion for instance, eclipse.

Heidegger’s thoughts on the enemy, which fascinates Trawny (12-13), are not particularly striking: I know of no nationalism that does not need one or the other enemy: the craving for identity of one people is always at the expense of the identity of the other. What needs to be thought is that Heidegger’s identity-politics from the mid-thirties onward also turns against National Socialism and why this critique remains unconvincing. Certainly, from the beginning of Heidegger’s relations to Nazism, people were, as Bernasconi notes, attacking him for “not being sufficiently Nazi” (177). Polt makes a strong case for Heidegger’s critique of Nazism (also in these Notebooks): Heidegger never entertains either their sheer biological racism or endorse their anti-intellectualism, their hostility to their enemies and their violent brutality (88).

Even then, Heidegger’s one and only question remains who is in and who is out when it comes to the ‘being-historical’ event of the end of metaphysics. National Socialism is now ranked alongside Christian scholasticism, Americanism and so on: stages on the way to the West’s end. Žižek states: “Heidegger’s critique of Nazism is […] a critique of the actually existing Nazism on behalf of its […] metaphysical ‘inner greatness’” (188). The mode of procedure has not changed: whereas first Nazism was deemed worthy of entertaining the question of being, now they are relegated to the many ‘still thinking metaphysically’ and cause the forgetting of being to spread. Nothing has changed: there is but one more instance that is named as part of metaphysics. For the possibility to think non-metaphysically only one being remains…

It didn’t occur to Heidegger, at this stage, that the other of metaphysics is not a property of this or that being, nor of a Volk. To turn to Derrida: if it was certain being was accessed only through language, then in the 1930s it was never questioned that this access had to happen through the German language. It is this ‘non-questioning’ that upsets Derrida, for it reveals something of an “unthought” in Heidegger: the priority of the question was never questioned itself and so misses that ‘there is language’ before one is able to question (being) at all, that language in this sense is a given. Language thus encloses being. This makes it rather uncertain why only German would pose this question. Marder relates this openness to language, this receiving of its gift, to a Levinasian form of hospitality (99). However, in Totality and Infinity this Other that we cannot ask any questions is called a Master—one is returned quicker to some kind of anti-democratic hierarchy than one expects.

What Derrida (and Heidegger, when he’s at his best) imagines is a granting and an allowance that comes with being, and which comes to us, beings, through language: “the question itself answers […] to this pledge”[xiii] and so responds to this granting. For Derrida, this concerns a “responsibility” that “is not chosen”[xiv] nor can it be answered by one people rather than another. For Derrida, it is spectral, spiritual and has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. Heidegger’s mistake was to think to be able to name this ‘I know not what’ and name it once and for all.

Such philosophical naming led to the gravest of things ontically, for Heidegger knew all too well that no one was really granted to lift the veil of this riddle of being, just as no one definitively awakens from his slumber through (ontological) anxiety and we all equally share in a certain ‘benumbedness’ by our world. In the Notebooks, he sometimes reached this conclusion: would it in effect not be the philosopher’s responsibility to “chase man through the otherness and strangeness of the essence of being” (GA 94:43)? It is too much to say that Heidegger wants us all to become ‘strangers on the earth’ but it is possible that the goal of this chase was not to rid us of all strangeness and otherness.

Only clumsy readers of Heidegger would heap together these forms of worldlessness: the worldlessness of technology is not the worldlessness of a stone. Technology is a rationality that conquers the world, but is still for Heidegger poor in world. Animals have an ‘Umwelt’ and are open to world, but are not world-forming as humans are. Benevolent readers of Heidegger will note that in Sein und Zeit (GA 2: 344), Heidegger speaks of a Benommenheit that is proper to Dasein—‘most often’ we are ‘absorbed’ by the world (first benumbedness) only to be stupefied and benumbed just as well by experiencing anxiety—whereas this Benommenheit is used only to speak of the animals’ world poverty in Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik. Can we conclude from this that Dasein is, a bit like an animal, ‘benumbed’ as well? No, perhaps. Can we conclude that these lines that Heidegger drew between the ontic and the ontological are not always as rigid as Heidegger himself wanted? Can we conclude that us mortals, in a sense, ‘have’ and ‘do not have’ world and that we are all rather bad at world-forming? I think so.

Krell explores what this ‘benumbedness’ exactly is and how it operates: it is an openness to world but not a total one. Heidegger describes it once as “essentially exposed to Other” which “introduces an essential shattering into the essence of the animal” (GA 29/30: 396). In order to survive, the animal depends on otherness, it can be by no means self-sustaining. If it ever would be able to have something like a ‘self’, it would be able do so only by virtue of such otherness. Heidegger says too little of this shattering in being, of such being exposed to otherness.[xv]

An ontic observation might add a little: at one point Gumbrecht wonders from whence the “conspicuous difference in quality between the […] Notebooks and other texts […] by Heidegger around 1930” (135), noting that the lectures were always nicely prepared and focused. Remark that Heidegger has written only one book, his other tomes are mostly seminars, speeches and notes taken for lectures. One can infer from this that the journal-like style of the Notebooks was not Heidegger’s preferred style and that for Heidegger to be at his best he needed an audience and thus others and otherness.

All this might be farfetched, but we need to admit that a thinking also exceeds the thinker and that he or she has no ownership, in a way, over the consequences of a thought. In his Freedom to Fail, Trawny claims that Heidegger speaks of a place of “originary errancy”[xvi], a non-moral space from which the thinker speaks freely of the freedom of being. This site of freedom is an-archic, as the event of being itself: it surges forward and arises out of nothing and for nothing, without a particular ‘whence or whither’. Though this is true of certain of Heidegger’s writings (e.g. Was heiβt Denken?) it is not without problems. Gregory Fried, for example, asks some poignant questions about Trawny’s approach: though it is the case that if we no longer question, we submit to authority and so end thinking. And though it is the case that we are today asking questions that were not allowed to be posed say fifty years ago—Fried mentions transgenders—and though this questioning itself seems to have “some sense of justice as their polestar”, these questions seem to presuppose some limits themselves (it is, for instance, not self-evident that someone would defend an authoritarian worldview on the basis of this free thinking). This is, for Fried, what Trawny overlooks when stating that posing limits on thinking would therefore only “play into a normative morality”. Fried argues that Trawny gives too much credit to ‘anarchic freedom’, leaving little space to criticize Heidegger’s antisemitism. Fried has an intriguing proposal:

“If thinking is errant, why can it not be a road trip that goes out [and] returns home […] to replenish what Trawny [calls] ‘the [t]enacious fabric of the everyday’? [We] must have a faith that in confronting the norms by which we have lived hitherto, we will do those norms […] justice by thoughtfully reconstructing and transforming them in the face of our lived situation […] and by leaving ourselves ever open to the question of when those norms need to be refurbished, or even discarded”.[xvii]

To conjoin free thinking and morality, we need what Being and Time calls a ‘destruction’ of tradition and not its overturning: one would be free to pose questions, question certain practices against the background of the prevailing norms and not, like in an overturning, reject them entirely. There would be some reverence for the tradition as well as the acknowledgement that the truth of these traditions might lie outside of these traditions. Not an ‘errant thinking’ that boldly goes where no one has gone before, but a thinking that seeks what is possible from within the coordinates of the tradition in which the ‘event of being’ transpires. Heidegger’s dismantling of metaphysics is less a “repeating of the past” as Rockmore argues (166)— in his thinking Heidegger was no mere conservative—but rather a “reappropriation” of this tradition that does not imply an “unblinking acceptance”, as Gordon rightly states. Needed for this is obviously a familiarity with the metaphysical tradition, lest philosophy dissolves in opinion.

Having come to this book as one who knows little of these Notebooks, but having read a fair amount of Heidegger, I’d conclude that by no means these Notebooks justify rejecting Heidegger’s philosophy entirely nor are they the first thing one should read of him—as the publishing craze around these Notebooks today seems to imply. It would be bad philosophy not to read Heidegger: this would forget the sheer force of this thinking and the way, too, it can enforce itself on its readers. It is the latter especially that one needs to think through if one wants to understand why a good philosopher can be a good Nazi.

These Notebooks could be read, not as a confession—Heidegger was not one to confess—but as a concession. One must ponder, as Žižek says, their “frank openness” (187). They are a concession, first, in the sense that he ‘lost it for a while’ in the thirties and succumbed to an ontic and ontotheological belief that, through him, the history of being became transparent. They are a concession, too, in that there was no immediate link between philosophy and politics and that any attempt to intervene in politics as for philosophy’s sake is destined to fail. They concede, not in the least, the fact that he too had submitted to this reprehensible regime’s stereotyping of racial issues and antidemocratic standards. And if it is true, as Trawny argues, that it is we who are the antisemites then the thoughts we need to take home from these concessions, knowing fully well that it was not all that easy to resist this regime and that back then it was easier to be a Nazi than not to be one, might be: would we have resisted the regime or submitted to its principle? After all: can one be a Nazi a little bit?

[i] For Derrida, see On Spirit. Heidegger and the Question (Chicago: Chicago UP, 1989), p. 120n.1. For Heidegger, respectively Nature, History, State 1933-1934 (London: Bloomsbury, 2015) and Logic as the Question Concerning the Essence of Language (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009), p. 71ff. Reference to the book under review are in the text between parentheses, to Heidegger’s Gesamtausgabe in the texts as well as GA.

[ii] Trawny’s essay echoes his Heidegger and the Myth of a Jewish World Conspiracy (Chicago: Chicago UP, 2016), p. 71. Trawny’s book is criticized quite heavily by Taylor Carman: “Trawny […]avoids direct assertion […] by falling back on locutions that merely suggest, hint, indicate a particular passage ‘does not preclude’ this (33), ‘we cannot rule out’ that (34), and so on”, see

[iii] Reference is, first, to his Existence and Existents (Duquesne: Duquesne UP, 1978) p. 4 and then to “As if Consenting to Horror”, Critical Inquiry 15 (1989) 485-488, as mentioned by Bernasconi on 168 of the book under review.

[iv] Levinas, Time and the Other (Duquesne: Duquesne University Press, 2006), pp. 99-100.

[v] Trawny, Freedom to Fail (Cambridge: Polity, 2015), p. 16.

[vi] Heidegger, Nature, History, State, p. 45.

[vii] See my Between Faith and Belief. Toward A Contemporary Phenomenology of Religious Life (Albany: SUNY Press, 2016), p. 25ff.

[viii] See his “Who belongs? Heidegger’s Philosophy of the Volk,” in Nature, History, State, pp. 109-125, p. 118-119.

[ix] Derrida, Of Spirit, p. 68.

[x] Jean-Luc Nancy, Banalité de Heidegger (Paris: Galilée, 2015), p. 51.

[xi] Jeff Malpas, “Assessing the Significance of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks,” to appear in Geographica Helvetica (2018), forthcoming.

[xii] David F. Krell, Ecstasy, Catastrophe. Heidegger from Being and Time to the Black Notebooks (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2015), p. 170.

[xiii] Derrida, Of Spirit, p. 130n.5.

[xiv] Ibid., p. 130n.5.

[xv] For this, see David F. Krell, Derrida and Our Animal Others (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2013), pp. 114-116.

[xvi] Trawny, Freedom to Fail, p. 41.

[xvii] See for this Gregory Fried at

Martin Heidegger: Zu eigenen Veröffentlichungen, Vittorio Klostermann, 2018

Zu eigenen Veröffentlichungen Book Cover Zu eigenen Veröffentlichungen
Martin Heidegger Gesamtausgabe 82
Martin Heidegger. Nach den Handschriften hrsg. von Friedrich-Wilhelm v. Herrmann
Vittorio Klostermann
Hardback 78,00 €

Martin Heidegger: Le commencement de la philosophie occidentale. Interprétation d’Anaximandre et de Parménide, Gallimard, 2017

Le commencement de la philosophie occidentale. Interprétation d'Anaximandre et de Parménide Book Cover Le commencement de la philosophie occidentale. Interprétation d'Anaximandre et de Parménide
Bibliothèque de Philosophie, Série Œuvres de Martin Heidegger
Martin Heidegger. Trad. de l'allemand par Guillaume Badoual
Broché 32,00 €

Gerhard Thonhauser (Hrsg.): Perspektiven mit Heidegger: Zugänge – Pfade – Anknüpfungen, Karl Alber, 2017

Perspektiven mit Heidegger: Zugänge - Pfade - Anknüpfungen Book Cover Perspektiven mit Heidegger: Zugänge - Pfade - Anknüpfungen
Alber Philosophie
Gerhard Thonhauser (Hrsg.)
Verlag Karl Alber
Paperback 44.00 €

Martin Heidegger, Ernst Jünger: Correspondence 1949-1975

Correspondence 1949-1975 Book Cover Correspondence 1949-1975
New Heidegger Research
Martin Heidegger, Ernst Jünger. Translated by Timothy Sean Quinn
Rowman & Littfield International
Paperback £19.95

Reviewed by: Forrest Cole (Global Center for Advanced Studies)

Correspondence 1949-1975: Martin Heidegger and Ernst Jünger (2016) presents an intimate portrait of two influential German philosophers. The letters provide significant insight into Heidegger and Jünger’s philosophical minds, as well as the eras from post-WWII to the Cold War. The letters are an important collection, and while the correspondence can be found elsewhere, this version benefits from a fluid and intelligible translation. In addition, translator Timothy Sean Quinn, Philosophy Department Chair at Xavier University, has included Jünger’s essay “Über de Linie” or “Across the Line” at the end of the correspondence. This inclusion fits well, as mention of the essay appears in the early letters, written as a gift for Heidegger on his 60th birthday. “Across the Line” functions as bookends to the letters and provides the reader with a perspective of time, place, and philosophical theory that, perhaps, the letters alone could not perform.

As Quinn states in the “Translator’s Introduction,” Jünger never attained the level of popularity as Heidegger. However, he made a name for himself in Europe as a prolific novelist and also published numerous philosophical and critical texts. In 1930 and 1932, he published his well-known works “Total Mobilization” and The Worker, respectively. These texts attracted Heidegger’s attention, and would be the connection that brought the two together. Heidegger stated, “[It was] how they express an essential understanding of Nietzsche’s metaphysics, insofar as the history and the present of the Western world are seen and foreseen within the horizon of this metaphysics” (xii). Discussion of Nietzsche appears throughout the letters and the concluding essay, and his theory of nihilism inspired much debate between the two admirers. According to Quinn, “the core of their friendship . . . turns on their shared attitude toward modernity, and to the growing nihilism of the age” (xiii). The theme circulates in and out of the letters, and is most prominent in “Across the Line” where Jünger explores his own unease about the growth of nihilism in Europe and the loss of Christian values.

It is apparent in the letters that Jünger and Heidegger find companionship through the written word. They develop a strong friendship and admiration for each other’s views and writings. Though, at times, the correspondence feels like a one-sided intellectual love affair, as Jünger reveres Heidegger, often seeking guidance, understandably so, because of Heidegger’s popularity; however, the admiration went both ways. Heidegger was very much impressed with Jünger’s intellect and ideas. The two found camaraderie via their similar situation and philosophical interests.

Heidegger and Jünger both suffered through periods of discrimination as post-WWII Germans. In 1933, Heidegger was briefly a member of the Nazi Party, and, even though he often wrote against the party later in life, he was always criticised for this affiliation. In addition, in the years leading up to the Third Reich, the Nazi Party sought to recruit Jünger, but he rejected their advances. However, this did not clear him of suspicion of Nazi involvement. In a 1974 letter, Jünger expresses his feelings to Heidegger, “Today, there is nothing more shameful than honors. After being sent to the dogs, one ends up on a postage stamp” (58). Despite the prestige the two philosophers earned, undergoing such criticism created lasting anguish. In the letters, there is clearly a general tiresomeness of pervasive judgment, over which the two commiserated.

Most often, collections of correspondence run rampant with the quotidian and mundane, but these letters are ripe with philosophical discourse, as the pair critically contemplate the world around them. Heidegger and Jünger often discuss other philosophers and their work. Such as in December 1955 and January 1956, when Jünger mentions in a postscript, “I have now completed a work concerning [Antoine de] Rivarol. His maxims are in general crystal clear, although in places a bit orphic” (18). At the end of the postscript, he asks Heidegger for his opinion. Heidegger responds with a multi-page exegesis. He writes, “The consideration of the weaver, the back-and-forth between of the weaver’s shuttle, shows that Rivarol sees motion not as an emptying of the future into the past (“time passes”), but as the transition that moves back and forth between two things at rest” (20). The two traded opinions and ideas such as these many times over the years. These brief discussions are an enormous benefit to the reader or scholar interested in the inner workings of a philosopher’s mind.

Not every letter can be a philosophical tete-à-tete, and while there are letters that represent the daily or mundane, the majority of the them offer something of value. When the two aging but extremely busy men often wish or request a meeting with the other, they are regularly too busy with speaking events or previous engagements. Though not in person, they still find meaningful ways to share their lives with each other. Heidegger and Jünger find time to send books. Near the end of Heidegger’s life, he often only communicated through the gift of books. From December 1970 to March 1972, there are only two letters, both from Jünger, and in each, he thanks his older friend for Phenomenology and Theology and Schelling’s Treastise, respectively. At other times, they share the attributes and failures of other texts. Even in this seemingly quotidian act, Jünger and Heidegger offer the reader intelligent insight into their patterns of thought.

On May 26, 1976, Heidegger died, and after all the intimate letters the reader feels the pain of the loss, and the pain that Jünger surely experienced at the death of his influential and dear friend is palpable in the terseness of his words. He only writes one more letter: a brief response to Heidegger’s son Herman. Perhaps the most emotive moment comes in reading the letter from Heidegger’s wife to Jünger, which includes a Friedrich Hölderlin poem found in a bedside book that was addressed to family and close friends upon Heidegger’s death. To quote the poem here would debase the experience, but after finishing the letters, it is easy to imagine the tears that wet Jünger’s cheeks.

“Across the Line”

The inclusion of the essay at the end punctuates the impactful letters. “Across the Line” is written in short chapters, vignettes of thought that expound upon the state of nihilism in the world, and how Christian values are the key for emerging from the darkness. The loss of Christian values is a great blow to Jünger, and he believes strongly in the salvation of the church, but he admits that it cannot win against nihilism: “We must then establish that theology by no means finds itself in a condition capable of confronting nihilism” (92). Jünger spends many pages discussing Nietzsche’s description of nihilism, which he admits is difficult to define. He does mention that nihilism is corrosive to society and values, and that nihilism must be left behind in order to attain spiritual heights and purity. Jünger writes, “It is the theme of our age” (88). To him, nihilism has become omnipotent, used by the powerful so that they may invoke fear, which is remarkably more poignant considering that this essay was written in the years following the Third Reich.

In many ways Jünger appears to be caught in the very state of pessimism that he decries against; however, he offers a few ways that the individual can overcome this. He argues that love, art and poetry can liberate the mind and body from the pessimistic state. Jünger states, “The meaning of art cannot be to ignore the world in which we live—-and thus it has little serenity. Spiritual overcoming and command over the age will not reveal itself in the fact that perfect machines crown progress, but rather that the age gains a form in the work of art. In this way, the age is redeemed” (98). Art will set people free.

While the essay lacks a bit of coherence, the message is as relevant today as it was in the 1940s. Quinn’s publication comes at an interesting time in the world, a time that reflects the era in which Jünger and Heidegger were composing. Quinn’s translation reads smoothly, is intellectually stimulating, and poetically intriguing. Without a doubt this collection is a valuable addition to the canon of research for both Heidegger and Jünger.

Martin Heidegger: Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Second Untimely Meditation

Interpretation of Nietzsche's Second Untimely Meditation Book Cover Interpretation of Nietzsche's Second Untimely Meditation
Studies in Continental Thought
Martin Heidegger. Translated by Ullrich Haase and Mark Sinclair
Indiana University Press
Cloth $55.00

Reviewed by:  Michael J. Sigrist (George Washington University, Department of Philosophy)

Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Second Untimely Meditation (INM) is a translation by Ullrich Haase and Mark Sinclair of a seminar conducted by Martin Heidegger in Freiburg over the Winter Semester 1938-39. Originally published as GA 46, the text consists of a collection of lecture notes and diagrams that loosely correspond to the topical sections of Nietzsche’s essay. Throughout the course Heidegger deepens his critique of Nietzsche, revisits the question of animal life, offers a lengthy reflection on the connection between truth and justice, and extends his reflections on the unity of temporality, historicality, and Being.

The title describes the contents perfectly: these lectures record Heidegger’s thoughts on Nietzsche’s “On the Uses and Disadvantages of History for Life.” Readers should be familiar with the latter work to get the most out of Heidegger’s text. Needless to say, readers will also want to know a fair bit of Heidegger, starting with Being and Time (BT), but The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude (FCM), and Contributions to Philosophy: From Enowning are also advised. While Nietzsche scholars may find some items of interest, and should take Heidegger’s overall critique seriously (more below), this text will be primarily of use for scholars and students of Heidegger.

These lectures appear at the tail end of Heidegger’s decade-long rumination on Nietzsche’s philosophy, a period also marked by Heidegger’s so-called Turn (Kehre). In Being and Time it’s clear that Dasein oscillates between authenticity and inauthenticity, but through the Turn Heidegger began to view these transitions historically through the destiny (Geschick) of Beyng (written so in order to accentuate the verbal, eventful meaning of the term). That history is punctuated by certain epochal figures, of which Nietzsche is the last, marking the transition from the ‘first’ to the ‘other’ beginning. The sort of considerations that guide Heidegger’s thinking through the turn are not the focus of this text but they are evident as background assumptions that shape certain lines of questioning. As Haase and Sinclair note in an insightful article that can be read as a companion piece to the book[i], Heidegger alters his approving evaluation of Nietzsche in Being and Time[ii] to a more confrontational mode in these lectures.

It’s refreshing, given the expansive nature of some of Heidegger’s other writing from the period, to find a text so focused on a single topic. While often repetitive and enigmatic, the text is content to take its cues from Nietzsche’s essay and simply to reflect on what is offered. Rather than itemize these all and run down a list, I’m going to review some of the most important themes so that readers get a sense for what the text at its best can offer.

Nietzsche begins his second Untimely Meditation (UM) famously envying the cattle in pasture for their incessant forgetfulness. These meager creatures with their uninspiring lives achieve an effortless happiness, while we, even in our most joyful moments, suffer the awareness that all moments necessarily pass. The cause of this melancholic existence is our inability to forget, which is why we are historical and animals unhistorical. This distinction marks Heidegger’s first major point of contention. It is incorrect to call animals unhistorical, he says. Just as only beings who exist essentially with others can be alone, and only beings who are essentially determined by speech can be silent, so Heidegger claims that only essentially historical beings can exist unhistorically: “only that which is historical can be unhistorical”.[iii] Rather than unhistorical, Nietzsche’s cattle lack history altogether, Heidegger says.[iv] This is not just a pedantic point, for important consequences follow.

Nietzsche’s analysis implies that humans and animals occupy distant points along a continuum, from total forgetting to total remembering (later in his essay Nietzsche worries about an oversaturation of historical knowledge). For Nietzsche, the key is not to settle at some sensible mid-point, but to acquire a horizon that let’s one retain just the proper amount of historical consciousness necessary for life.[v] Heidegger complains that this encourages us to think that the problem is one of how much or what sort of things to forget, whereas there is a kind of forgetfulness that characterizes Dasein’s inauthentic, unhistorical way of being that has nothing to do with the amount or kind of memories Dasein retains. In fact, Heidegger says, being unhistorical is itself a way of being historical, in parallel with (or as another way of framing) the relation between authentic and inauthentic existence. After the Turn, machination and reification take over the role played by inauthenticity, where rather than structural features of Dasein these are increasingly understood as being-historical tendencies in the destiny of Western metaphysics. These lectures explain that we ought to understand Dasein’s unhistorical being not as some nearer approximation to animal life but as contemporary Dasein’s inauthentic way of being historical.

This is important because contemporary Dasein is unhistorical despite a flood of historical information and historical awareness. The massive increase in historical knowledge—Heidegger and Nietzsche agree—is not the result of exogenous improvements in the technology for discovering and disseminating historical facts (quite the reverse actually) but due to contemporary Dasein’s dominant self-interpretation as historical. Contemporary Dasein has so much historical information because it seeks it out and interprets itself accordingly. The rise of historicism in the German academy only reflected the rise in historical consciousness through which Western Dasein increasingly came to understand itself over the course of the 19th century. Many of Heidegger’s and Nietzsche’s contemporaries believed that this increase in historical awareness and information resulted in a manner of conduct and self-evaluation showing unique historical sophistication, as if modern Dasein were more in touch with its history than its ancestors. Heidegger and Nietzsche both dispute this idea. For Heidegger, it is clear that our scientific mode of framing and retaining historical knowledge– not the amount or kind–paradoxically blinds us to our historical existence. We know ever more about the past but by this very mode of knowing turn away from it.

In Being and Time Heidegger believed that this mutual distrust of historical science indicated a deeper philosophical agreement with Nietzsche. He claims that Nietzsche’s distinction between three modes of history—monumental, antiquarian, and critical[vi]–shows that Nietzsche had achieved—though left unsaid—an insight into the original unity of authentic temporality. Nietzsche claimed that the historicism of his day overlooked the fact that history is in service to life, and Heidegger seemed to detect an affinity between this claim and his own warnings against scientism as the de-worlded representation of beings in the mode of the present-to-hand.

A decade later, these lectures show that Heidegger has substantially revised his understanding of Nietzsche’s project. Rather than revealing the ground of authentic historicality, Nietzsche now represents the final forgetting of Being. Specifically, Heidegger believes that, behind an ostensible critique of science and objective historiology, Nietzsche surreptiously announces the culmination of the scientific, technological enframing of Being.

The first sign of this re-evaluation is obvious in early sections of the text. Nietzsche argued that the proper approach to history should strive for the right balance of memory and forgetting. Specifically, historical memory ought to be measured by the life-affirming values it enhances in the present–via inspiration, reverence, and liberation, corresponding to the three modes of history. Heidegger reflects on different kinds of memory and forgetting–anticipating such distinctions as semantic, episodic, and observer memory–but the general conclusion is that Nietzsche only understands memory as ‘making present’ and thereby conceals its essence. Heidegger points as evidence to Nietzsche’s conflation of Historie with Geschichte. Historie for Heidegger is more than just the academic writing of history, and might better be described as telling history, something constitutive of any human community. In Being and Time he argues that it is important that such telling arise as an authentic expression of Dasein’s gechichtliches way of being grounded in ecstatic temporality. In these sections of INM Heidegger’s comments seem trade on a distinction familiar from Husserl. Husserl distinguished Gegenwärtigung from Vergegenwärtigung, the latter often translated by the somewhat clumsy ‘presentifying.’ Memory–or ‘recollection’–is a paradigmatic ‘presentifying’ act for Husserl, an act which presents its object as absent in its absence. Husserl was clear that presentifying acts presuppose and take as their content prior, original intuitive presentations, so recollective acts are founded on and take as their content direct, intuitive retentions. Heidegger, both here and in Being and Time, argues that a similar relation obtains between the telling of Historie and Dasein’s original, geschichtliches way of being. Heidegger does not mean of course that Historie is answerable to Geschichte in the way that propositions are answerable to facts. “Mere making present and remembering are fundamentally different,” he explains, later clarifying that to ‘make present’ is to ‘take up into the present,’ whereas ‘to remember’ is “placing oneself into that which has been and as belonging to it”.[vii] So unlike Husserl, who grounded recollective memory on intuitive perceptions, Heidegger’s Historie is grounded in Dasein’s ontological involvement with or (as he frequently puts it in this text) ‘belonging to’ the past. Nietzsche, by effectively writing Geschichte out of Historie, erases Dasein’s ontological foundation in the past. Whatever meaning the past has for Nietzsche is written back into it from the present, and whatever has no present use ought to be ‘forgotten.’[viii] There are parallels here (not coincidentally, given that these texts are composed in the same period) to the way that enframing in the mode of Gestell projects the being of beings as standing reserve for the will, so ‘making present’ in Nietzsche’s sense displays a similar enframing projection of the past.

There are more entries on life in this text than on any other topic. In Being and Time Heidegger implicitly associates Nietzsche’s thinking about history with Wilhelm Dilthey’s philosophy of life and defense of the originality of Geistwissenschaften, but especially following the rigorous analysis of life in FCM, Heidegger no longer thinks that life is an appropriate concept for understanding Dasein’s way of being and has concluded that Nietzsche’s thinking about life stands directly opposed to Dasein’s fundamental historicity. Many of the statements about life in this text repeat the analysis from a decade earlier. Animals are ‘captivated’ by their milieu (Umfeld) whereas Dasein understands its ‘environment’ (Umwelt). Animality, says Heidegger, is not grounded in any intrinsic property of organisms but by the ‘absorbtion’ and mutual determination of organism and environment. Although this should not be understood causally, animals are merely responsive to their environment whereas Dasein is in some sense free. Animals do not transcend their milieu and so are “bound to the moment”.[ix] By elevating life to the name of being as a whole, Nietzsche projects all of being through this totalizing presentism.

Heidegger’s claims about animality remain controversial and the focus of ongoing research.[x] Scholars will not find anything in this set of lectures to contradict or add nuance to claims about the ‘world-poor’ existence of animals. However, readers will acquire better insight into the kinds of considerations that motivated Heidegger to undertake those analyses in the first place and the context they occupy for him. Recent interest in Heidegger’s remarks about animality has been driven by growing contemporary attention to animal rights and a broader critique of anthropocentrism, but as this text makes clear, those are not part of the frame that Heidegger brings to these issues. Instead, this text shows that foremost in his mind is combatting–what Heidegger believed to be–the confusions and regressions of Lebensphilosophie, historicism, scientism, rationalism, and the technological projection of being. He is especially concerned to awaken an attunement to the existential potential of historically transcendent Dasein. Richard Polt, in a recent lecture at Emory University organized around the Black Notebooks, states that during this period Heidegger began to interpret the barbarism around him as a regression to a form of animality that formed the counterpart to the calculative rationality of enframing.[xi] This sentiment is consistent with what one finds in INM.

This text also covers ground familiar from Heidegger’s more famous writings on technology and earlier set of lectures on Nietzsche. Looking beneath the surface of Nietzsche’s frequent critique of consciousness, moral motivations, and objective truth, Heidegger claims to find an even purer expression of modern rationalism. As Heidegger would explain in the Question Concerning Technology (QCT), what defines technological rationalism is not consciousness per se but the projection of being as standing reserve for the encompassing presentism of the subjectum. Nietzsche’s ‘hermeneutics of suspicion’ might undermine the epistemic self-certainty of consciousness but only to the effect of extinguishing any remaining resistance from beings themselves to ‘life’ and thus the erasure of being into nothing. Being itself is nothing but the projection of life. Thus “despite the enmity with Descartes,” Heidegger writes, Nietzsche “only replaces the cogito by a vivo and thereby raises the subjectum to the highest level of preeminence”.[xii] This story, as I’ve mentioned, will be familiar to readers of Heidegger’s other writings on Nietzsche and technology, but this text adds a specifically historical inflection to that critique.

That inflection sets the context for one of the more noteworthy sections of the text where we find Heidegger offering a sustained reflection on justice. The original connection–between life, truth, history, and justice–is not Heidegger’s but Nietzsche’s. In UM, Nietzsche describes, in his usual complex way, the drive for an austere objectivity in history as a kind of justice. Unlike other areas of science, we cannot remain indifferent to the results of history. (Feigned indifference, modeled on scientific dispassion or aesthetic indifference, always dissembles ulterior, self-aggrandizing motives, Nietzsche believes). I have no particular stake in the specific atomic weight of some element, but to discover that the revered founder of my country was a kleptocratic murderer, or that your friends have never really respected you, can be profoundly affecting. It requires a rare and special sort of fortitude, Nietzsche imagines, to look directly at historical truth nonetheless, calling that a kind of justice. Normally, Nietzsche assumes, we use the past for precedents and excuses, for scapegoats and reassurance, a tendency at both the individual and collective level. Those few who are not seduced by such drives possess what Nietzsche calls a “dreadful virtue” that confers the right to be a “regulating and punishing judge”.[xiii] But even this drive for justice must be wed to an artistic drive to create lest it undermine the very life it expresses. As Heidegger explains, Nietzsche’s notion of justice is not about what is or has been but about possibility, the ability to posit new goals and ideals.[xiv] Without such goals, this dreadful justice only destroys. Nietzsche points to the withering effects historical criticism had had on the spiritual power of religious figures like Jesus, and today we might point to contemporary histories that turn an unflinching eye toward the details of the oppressive and unjust legacies of our own past. When in service to a life-affirming ideal, the dreadful virtue of historical honesty can be creative, but most of us never achieve or even aspire to such historical virtue. Instead, we are motivated by “boredom, envy, vanity, the desire for amusement,” etc.[xv] Nietzsche mocks the careful historians of his day (and he could easily be talking about our own) for judging the deeds and opinions of the past by standards of the present and calling that ‘objectivity,’ work he derides as the attempt “to adapt the past to contemporary triviality”.[xvi]

In Being and Time Heidegger saw in this accusation of banal anachronism a connection to his own critique of publicness, but in these lectures he finds something else. The drive towards justice–even the austere, virtuous kind that Nietzsche admires (and would practice with his method of genealogy–belongs rather to life than truth. Nietzsche will persist using the word ‘truth’, but Heidegger argues that his failure to see past metaphysics nullifies his right to that term. Nietzsche’s claims to truth are a ruse: “The will to truth belongs to “life” and in this belonging it is precisely the will to untruth, to appearance.[xvii] Truth is really untruth, which is to say, no truth at all, only life.

For all of his criticisms of how philosophers talk about truth, the need for truth remains one of Heidegger’s deepest and most persistent commitments. It is a commitment Nietzsche cannot share because, Heidegger claims, Nietzsche continues to think of truth through the metaphysical opposition of being and becoming.

 “What Nietzsche here grasps as “will to truth”—always from the perspective of the human being—is it not simply the will to the “true,” that is, to what is “fixed,” and therefore precisely not will to truth as an essential will to the question-worthiness of the essence of the true?”[xviii]

For all of his ability to see through the pretensions and self-deceptions of philosophy, Nietzsche still cannot see how that which changes—that which has a history—can be true, and so he rejects truth—and with it, being—for the sake of something he calls life. (Heidegger includes several interesting asides cataloguing the inconsistent ambiguities in Nietzsche’s use of that term in connect with similar ambiguities in his uses of ‘justice’ and ‘truth.’)

Heidegger scholars will find this text frequently fascinating if also enigmatic and frustrating. As this review illustrates, it stays for the most part on the level of critique. But a positive understanding of being-historical is intimated between the lines of this critique, and begins with the aforementioned notion of historical truth. Understood within the framework of traditional epistemology the very idea is barely intelligible. How could truth change? Historical relativism or some sort of temporally-indexed contextualism are insufficient. Either way, truth itself is not ‘historical’ but relativized into fixed frame or constantly shifting perspective. This suggests that we should look elsewhere than traditional epistemology to get a sense of what truth as historical might mean. The first step is to recognize that truth is a guiding, constitutive feature of Dasein’s existence—lived out more than known, enacted rather than objectively grasped. As Haase and Sinclair note, this is a sense of being-historical already laid out in 1919/20 in Phenomenology of Religious Life. As I write, my country—the United States—confronts a deep crisis about the kind of country it has been, is, and will be. And familiar arguments over our history have once again become public (Are we an immigrant nation or an ethnic one? A liberal and progressive nation or reactionary and conservative?) It is a mistake to assume that the past is fixed, or that history unfolds a fixed essence. But it is equally wrong to assume that there is no ‘truth’ to the matter or that historical truth is confined to the present. The past not is a set of facts, but one ground for the possibility of meaning, a possibility that also includes the present and the future. The meaning, for instance, of the Constitutional Convention is not found only in the facts of what occurred in Philadelphia in 1787, but in the meaning that those facts continue to have today for those of us responsible to them, and that meaning in turn is not just found in the present facts of today but in who we become in the future. We right now are aware of all this right now and thus our present is this responsibility towards our future by way of our past. The truth is not something we create, nor something we find, but something for which we are responsible. It is—and this is my final observation—this notion of responsibility that Heidegger implies is missing from Nietzsche’s philosophy. For Nietzsche the past and the future are consumed by a drive for power into a totalizing present: “‘life’ is posited in advance as life-intensification, as the consuming desire for victory, spoils, and power, which in and of itself means: always more power”.[xix] Is this a hint at Heidegger’s so-called subtle ‘resistance’ to National Socialism in his Nietzsche lectures? If so, it is an important datum for intellectual historians trying to gauge Heidegger’s precise sympathies, but all the same, must strike us now as pathetic and insufficient.

[i] Haase, Ullrich and Sinclair, Mark. “History and the Meaning of Life: On Heidegger’s Interpretations of Nietzsche’s 2nd Untimely Meditation.” Heidegger in the Twenty-First Century. Springer: 2015.

[ii] See especially BT, Division II, Ch. 5.

[iii] INM, 24.

[iv] “The animal is not unhistorical, but much rather without history [historielos] – and these are not the same.” (INM, 24). See also: “The human being is in its very essence characterized and distinguished by the historical. At the same time, the unhistorical has a primacy within human life.” (INM, 18)

[v] “A living thing can be healthy, strong, and fruitful only when bounded by a horizon.” (UM, 63). Heidegger questions why Nietzsche seems to equate the ‘horizon limitation’ with ‘being able to forget.’ (INM, 115)

[vi] See UM.

[vii] INM, 33. And elsewhere: “representing–bringing before oneself–derives from a mere making present (free and unrestrained) which is not carried and goverened by remembering (the being concerned by what has been, being affected by it)” (INM, 92).

[viii] “…for Nietzsche, ‘history’–when he does not simply equate it with historiology–is what first of all comes into being by means of objectification on the part of historiology” (INM, 78).

[ix] INM, 16.

[x] See Calarco, Matthew. Zoographies: The Question of the Animal from Heidegger to Derrida. New York: Columbia UP, 2008; Derrida, Jacques, Michel Lisse, Marie-Louise Mallet, and Geoffrey Bennington. The Beast & the Sovereign. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2011; Padui, Raoni. “From the Facticity of Dasein to the Facticity of Nature: Naturalism, Animality, and Metontology.” Gatherings. The Heidegger Circle Annual, 3 (2013): 50–75; Tanzer, Mark. “Heidegger on Animality and Anthropocentrism.” Journal of the British Society for Phenomenology 47.1 (2015): 18-32;

[xi] “Inception, Downfall, and the Broken World: Heidegger Above the Sea of Fog.” In Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks”: Responding to Anti-Semitism, ed. Andrew J. Mitchell and Peter Trawny. New York: Columbia University Press, forthcoming 2017.

[xii] INM, 114.

[xiii] UM, 88.

[xiv] See INM, 144-5.

[xv] UM, 88.

[xvi] UM, 90.

[xvii] INM, 118.

[xviii] INM, 119.

[xix] INM, 178.

Martin Heidegger: Ponderings VII–XI: Black Notebooks 1938–1939, Indiana University Press, 2017

Ponderings VII–XI: Black Notebooks 1938–1939 Book Cover Ponderings VII–XI: Black Notebooks 1938–1939
Studies in Continental Thought
Martin Heidegger. Translated by Richard Rojcewicz
Indiana University Press
Cloth $60.00

Martin Heidegger: Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Second Untimely Meditation

Interpretation of Nietzsche's Second Untimely Meditation Book Cover Interpretation of Nietzsche's Second Untimely Meditation
Studies in Continental Thought
Martin Heidegger. Translated by Ullrich Haase and Mark Sinclair
Indiana University Press
Cloth $55.00

Reviewed by: David Mitchell (University of Johannesburg, South Africa)

With the recent publication in English of the ‘Black Notebooks’ (2014), much renewed attention has been paid to Heidegger the man, and particularly his association with Nazism and anti-Semitism. It is refreshing then to find the release of a work where political and biographical controversies take a back seat. Originally published in German in 2003 as volume 46 of the Gesamtausgabe (‘Complete edition’), ‘Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Second Untimely Meditation’, is the translation of a series of seminar notes from the winter semester of 1938-39 in Freiburg. The content of these seminars, delivered eventually in the form of lectures by Heidegger, was the second of Nietzsche’s Untimely Meditations: ‘On the Advantages and Disadvantages of History for Life’ (1874) ((hereafter, when cited, UTM: 2)) . And this has been ably translated into English by Ullrich Haase and Mark Sinclair, who also provide a brief introduction and a post-script by the original German editor, Hans-Joachim Friedrich.

As said then, Haase and Sinclair render the German into a readable and fluent English. They make potentially clunky and jargon laden passages from the original seem natural, and also do a good job of dealing with the specific difficulties thrown up by this text. In particular, they confront well the problem of distinguishing between Historie, the study of the past, and Geschichte, which is the past in general, as it underpins reality. And they do this by translating the former as ‘historiology’ and the latter as ‘history’. Likewise, they deal effectively with the various German terms surrounding memory and forgetting. Specifically they render Erinnerung as ‘remembering,’ Gedächtnis as ‘memory’, Andenken as ‘remembrance,’ Vergegenwärtigung as ‘making present’, and Behalten as ‘retaining’. However, while providing some context, and flagging up issues of translation, they could do more in the way of guidance for the reader. That is to say, Haase and Sinclair could say more about how one should read the text. This is an issue precisely because as the translators acknowledge ‘Heidegger’s notes are for the most part schematic and fragmentary’ (xii). As such, read simply in themselves, large sections may come across as confusing or obscure, especially for those not versed in Heidegger or the work being interpreted. For this reason, a helpful suggestion might have been for the text to be read in conjunction with the second Untimely Meditation itself. Like the lectures originally therefore, The Interpretation would make more sense when it is read alongside the passages from Nietzsche under discussion. Indeed, given that the sections from Untimely Meditations analysed are relatively short, a prior reading of each before looking at the corresponding chapter in Heidegger is highly recommended.

The introduction might also do more regarding other relevant texts by the author. For instance, attention could be drawn to ‘The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics’ (1929-30), the ‘Letter on Humanism’ (1947), and’ What is Called Thinking’ (1951-52), all of which touch on similar themes found in The Interpretation. In particular, Heidegger’s understanding of the distinction between the human and the animal, and critique of the ‘animal rationale’, is something developed in each of these works. In any case, looking to the text itself, we can say that the structure of the work is relatively straightforward. With the exception of a short introduction on the nature of interpretation and ‘thinking’, Heidegger’s twenty chapters by and large track the ideas and arguments raised in the first six sections of the second Untimely Meditation. These lettered major sections, from A to T, are typically direct discussions of what Nietzsche said in a particular section. And these are sometimes followed by more thematic chapters related to specific ideas raised there. As a result, after the ‘preliminary remarks’ he begins with an account of section one of Nietzsche’s text. This is focused on the nature of memory and forgetting, and the meaning of the historical and ‘unhistorical’. After this, Heidegger looks at section two of ‘Advantages and Disadvantages’, which deals with what Nietzsche calls ‘monumental history’. We then, in C, have an account of the antiquarian and critical modes of history found in that Untimely Meditation. Chapters E, F and G meanwhile represent thematic discussions concerning historiology. A discussion of section four of the ‘Advantages and Disadvantages’ follows, which deals with cultural critique. Barring thematic digressions, the rest of the text then looks at sections five and six of the second Meditation. This involves, respectively, a critique of the ‘historical man’, and an analysis of the pursuit of historical truth for its own sake. That is, it looks at what Nietzsche calls ‘truth that eventuates in nothing’ (UTM: 2, 6: 89). Heidegger then finishes The Interpretation with a lengthy thematic discussion of the concepts of truth and justice employed by Nietzsche in the later sections.

It is worth noting, before moving on, that Heidegger’s attention to each of these themes and sections is not necessarily commensurate with the emphasis given to them by Nietzsche. Sections one and six, for instance, receive much more attention than the others of similar length in the original, and the issues of truth and science are also stressed far more in Heidegger. It should further be observed that he does not address the final four sections of Nietzsche’s text, only the first six, and that the other three Untimely Meditations are not even mentioned. The reasons for such an omission are never really made clear. Although it is consistent with Heidegger’s predilection for minutiae in interpretation, this may be a source of frustration for anyone expecting a more definite reading of the Untimely Meditations as a whole.

Nevertheless, moving away from these more general considerations, there remains much of value in Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche here. Specifically, the discussion of memory and forgetting stands out as particularly thought provoking. This is because this issue constitutes the most sustained, and philosophically interesting, theme which Heidegger explores in relation to this work. This discussion also forms the kernel of what is illuminating about other aspects of Heidegger’s reading of this text, as well as how the two figures differ. That is, it also informs subsequent themes in the dialogue between Nietzsche and Heidegger. To explain briefly then, Nietzsche argues in the second Untimely Meditation that the human being is fundamentally just an animal that has acquired the ability to remember. That is, the human is an animal that has gained the ability to be aware of itself within, and stretched over, time. Or, put more precisely, we are an animal that has overcome that constant proclivity to ‘forget’ which traps other creatures in the perpetual present. And this is, for Nietzsche, what gives the human its distinguishing nature as ‘an imperfect tense that can never become a perfect one’ (UTM: 2, 1: 61)

Yet it is precisely this point of clarification regarding forgetting that Heidegger takes issue with. This is because, he believes, Nietzsche mistakes the order of logical priority pertaining to this capacity and that of memory. As he says, ‘The characterization of forgetting remains in Nietzsche underdetermined and contradictory, because he fails to clarify the essence of remembering and of making present.’ (40) And, continuing, this means that ‘Nietzsche does not determine forgetting as a variant of retaining (making present to oneself and remembering), but vice versa: “remembering” is a variant of forgetting as not being able to forget.’ (41) In other words, Nietzsche, according to Heidegger, fails to analyse remembrance properly. And this leads him to view memory as the suppression of forgetting, rather than seeing forgetting as something that is possible only once a memory has been established in the first place. Furthermore, this has consequences for of an understanding of the life of the animal. For Nietzsche, on this view, fails to make sense of a certain observable phenomenon in the natural world. This is what Heidegger describes when he says that,

‘the tit always finds its way back to its nest, and therefore must be able “to retain” its place and aspect. The robin waits every morning for the mealworm that has been put out for it. Migratory birds always return to the same region. The dog comes back to the buried bone.’ (39)

Put another way, Nietzsche’s stress on the primacy of ‘forgetting’, and of the animal as in a state of constant forgetting, means he is unable to make sense of these more ambiguous instances. That is, wanting to determine the animal purely in terms of the ‘perpetual present’, he is forced to ignore those cases where they appear to possess something with certain inchoate similarities to human memory. Further this, for Heidegger, is merely symptomatic of a deeper misunderstanding and simplification of the world of the animal on Nietzsche’s part. And central to this, is an overlooking of what he calls ‘captivation.’ As he says then,

‘It is not that the animal retains something for itself in the mode of a constantly possible making present; rather the animal is held within its milieu as captivated by it, in such a way that, depending on the sort of animal it is, now this now that emerges in a withholding manner and then sinks back, again within the indeterminate contours of its milieu. This emerging and taking away and taking in happens in each case within a circle of relations that is not present as such.’ (39)

In other words, we should not understand the animal in terms of an endless state of ‘being present’; trapped in series of perpetually static moments. Rather we should view it more in terms of a fluid, and temporally ambiguous, absorption, or captivation, in its world. Thus the animal is continually moving back and forth between a state of ‘being-taken-along-with’ (39), its interest held by some specific engaged relation to its environment, and a more passive ‘sinking back’ into the amorphous totality of its world. And critically it is this model, rather than that of ‘perpetual forgetting’ that for Heidegger can make sense of the problem cases described earlier. That is to say, it is this model, rather than Nietzsche’s, which can account for how certain animals, without having ‘memory’, nonetheless exhibit a more complex temporal relationship to their environment than perpetual presence.

However returning to an assessment of other parts of the book, this issue continues to play a role. The question of memory and forgetting, for a start, is for Nietzsche tied to the different kinds of history that may be practiced by a culture. So for example ‘monumental history’ involves a veneration of past great figures and actions so as to inspire the present. But this also necessarily involves a certain kind of wilful ‘forgetting’ of what may be limited or problematic about such figures and their ages. Conversely ‘critical history’ involves the effort to soberly ‘remember’ and critique the past as objectively as possible, regardless of its effect on the present. The danger of this approach though is that, as with the individual, an excess of memory may paralyse present action. Heidegger’s analyses of these different modes of history, and of the ‘antiquarian’ mode, are nevertheless for the most part uncontroversial. Since the advantages and disadvantages of these types of history are also relatively well known we will not dwell on this aspect of The Interpretation. That said, he does make an interesting point regarding the correspondence of these different modes to what he sees as the three essential comportments of human life. These are ‘life-intensification, life-preservation, life-liberation’ (75). Likewise these are said to correspond to the three temporal dimensions of the human: past, present, future.

In any case, we can say this theme of ‘memory’ also informs the ideas developed in subsequent chapters. Specifically, Heidegger’s discussion of sections IV and V of Nietzsche’s text, chapters H through K, on the topic of culture, is underscored by this basic concern. Here Heidegger provides a succinct analysis of how ‘the over-saturation by historiology’ (100), and hence a lack of forgetting, according to Nietzsche has ‘five noxious effects’ (Ibid). Again there is not space to go into all of these, but ‘the destruction of the “instincts”’(Ibid) and ‘the spread of a mood of “irony” and cynicism’ (Ibid) are two of them. And it should also be noted that Heidegger is actually very critical of this attack by Nietzsche on modern culture, describing it as ‘“polemical,” shallow, a rant’ (Ibid).

Moreover, the analysis of forgetting and remembrance in this text, as a final point on this, reveals a fundamental philosophical difference between Heidegger and Nietzsche. This concerns the distinction between the human and the animal, and is one of the most revealing aspects of Heidegger’s Interpretation. For Heidegger says that Nietzsche’s construal of the human being as essentially an animal with the capacity to remember leaves him trapped in a certain tradition of western metaphysics. This is the idea of ‘the essential determination of the human being as animal rationale.’ (134) And, put more exactly, it is a tradition which suggests that ‘The human being is a present-at-hand animal, and this animal has something like ratio—νοῦς—in the same way that a tree has branches.’ (134-135) Further, ‘The human being is endowed with this faculty and it uses it just like the hand uses a “tool”. (Ibid) A defence of Nietzsche on this point though could be proffered. For we might argue that to say the human is a type of animal does not necessarily commit one to the idea that it must therefore either be present-at-hand or exist as an animal in addition to some other capacity. Indeed, as also seen in The Genealogy of Morals, an animal that is divided against itself, and over time, does not have to exist as a substantial present-at-hand entity. Likewise, in so far as the human is an animal turned against its animal nature then what distinguishes it from other animals is not a specific attribute, but the radical transformation of its entire relationship to self and world.

Nevertheless, whoever is right, the present text sheds interesting light on this fundamental difference between the two. That is, it sheds light on Nietzsche’s naturalism in contrast to Heidegger’s belief in a more ‘abyssal’, to use a recurring term in the book, distinction between animal and human. Perhaps what is frustrating though is that Heidegger does not really spell out what this difference amounts to, or what an alternative to the human as a type of animal would look like. There are also, we should point out, other limitations with Heidegger’s engagement with Nietzsche in ‘The Interpretation’. Principal amongst these is that he does not really delve into the philosophical problems associated with a selective attitude toward the truth or history. For how can one choose to forget more, and remember less? This is an issue that crosses over with problems raised by philosophical work on self-deception by Mele (2003) and others. In other words, how can we be wilfully selective about our view of a certain age, and toward a certain end, without in some ways engaging in distortions of what we know to be true? And Heidegger’s claim that Nietzsche’s ‘doctrine concerning truth should in no case be associated with a coarse and cheap American pragmatism’ (155) is obviously inadequate to answer these concerns. Similarly, Nietzsche’s own over-valorisation of the Greeks is something that goes unchallenged by Heidegger. For how can the ‘example’ of Greek culture really be an inspiration if we know that the ‘example’ is in many ways based on a myth?

All that said, ‘The Interpretation’ as a whole doubtless has a lot to offer. It certainly will be of enduring worth to Nietzsche and Heidegger scholars. And this is particularly because we see here the latter’s sustained engagement with a specific published text, rather than the more familiar interpretation based on Nietzsche’s notebooks (‘Will to Power as Art’, v.1 1936-39, v.2 1939-46). It is also of value for bringing to light an intriguing critical discussion of a key issue running throughout Nietzsche’s thought. That is, it sheds light on what is an important philosophical question in its own right: the nature of remembering and forgetting in connection to what separates the animal from the human. In this sense, this book will as well be of interest beyond Heidegger and Nietzsche scholarship. Arguably, as mentioned, Haase and Sinclair could do more to guide the reader regarding how to read the text. For it is doubtless best read in conjunction, and dialogue with, the Untimely Meditation it is interpreting. They may also have flagged up Heidegger’s somewhat polemic, and politically motivated, rejection of Nietzsche’s cultural critique. Yet there is still much to be applauded here. And, in conclusion, the effort in bringing ‘The Interpretation’ to English speakers for the first time has certainly proved to be a worthy one.

Wer will Heidegger zähmen? Zu Donatella Di Cesares ‚Aufklärung‘ über die Schwarzen Hefte oder die postmoderne Verklärung Heideggers

Heidegger, die Juden, die Shoah Book Cover Heidegger, die Juden, die Shoah
Heidegger Forum 12
Donatella Di Cesare
Vittorio Klostermann

Reviewed by: Emanuele Caminada (KU Leuven)

In Heidegger, die Juden, die Shoah stellt Donatella Di Cesare ihre revidierte Lektüre von Heideggers Philosophie vor. Diese Revision wurde durch den in den Schwarzen Heften ans Licht gekommenen Antisemitismus erforderlich. Di Cesare war stellvertretende Vorsitzende der Martin-Heidegger-Gesellschaft und ist Professorin für Philosophie an der Universität La Sapienza in Rom. Sie lehrt auch jüdische Philosophie am Collegio Rabbinico Italiano. Ihre Forschungsschwerpunkte liegen in der Hermeneutik und in den Verwicklungen der deutsch-jüdischen Geschichte im 20. Jahrhundert. Die von ihr hochstilisierte „jüdische Frage“ mit ihren philosophischen und politischen Konsequenzen stehen im Zentrum ihrer jüngsten Veröffentlichungen.

Das hier besprochene Werk ist ihre eigene Übersetzung ihres 2014 in Italien veröffentlichten Buches Heidegger e gli ebrei. I «Quaderni neri» (vgl. 2014a). I «Quaderni neri», “Die Schwarzen Hefte“, dient als Untertitel des Originals, das vor der zweisprachigen Veröffentlichung der Überlegungen II-VI 2015 (Heidegger 2015) auch der einzige Zugang zu den Schwarzen Heften auf Italienisch war. Es handelt sich um das Ergebnis ihrer langjährigen Auseinandersetzung mit dem Denker aus Meßkirch: [1] Der Antisemitismus habe bei Heidegger einen theologischen Ursprung, er habe eine politische Absicht und beanspruche damit einen philosophischen Rang (9)[2].

Die für das deutsche Publikum bestimmte Fassung unterscheidet sich lediglich im Kapitel IV vom Original: im Inhalt durch eine Änderung ihrer Interpretation des Dialogs zwischen Heidegger und Celan (§2); im Umfang durch das Einschieben von sieben neuen Paragrafen (§§7-14, S. 304-337), die sich auf den inzwischen erschienen Band 97 der Gesamtausgabe, Anmerkungen I-V (Schwarze Hefte 1942-1948) beziehen.

Aufgrund des brisanten Materials, das die Autorin in ihren hermeneutischen Zirkeln mobilisiert (die sogenannte „deutsche Tradition“ von Luther bis Hitler, die Diskussion der politischen Theologie zwischen Taubes und Schmitt, die post-moderne Lektüre Heideggers und die Konstellation Heidegger, Adorno, Celan), ist Heidegger, die Juden, die Shoah ein sehr komplexes Werk. Die Schwarzen Hefte, die ihr als Schlüssel ihrer Deutung lange vor der Veröffentlichung zur Verfügung standen, sind für sie „kein Grabstein für Heideggers Philosophie“ sondern eher eine Herausforderung, denn sie ließen die Schemata implodieren, mit denen Heidegger bisher gelesen wurde. Die gesamte „kontinentale Philosophie“ sei vom Skandal der Schwarzen Hefte getroffen (7).

Mit der Hypothese des „metaphysischen Antisemitismus“ (256ff.) möchte Donatella Di Cesare (im Folgenden: DDC) die antisemitische Matrix der Philosophie Heideggers aufzeigen. Diese Hypothese besagt, dass die Judenfrage sich in die Seinsgeschichte einschreiben würde und damit „philosophische Relevanz“ besäße (28). Eine derartige Hypothese beinhaltet allerdings zwei unterschiedliche Thesen: 1. Heideggers Philosophie habe eine metaphysisch antisemitische Matrix; 2. Heidegger erbe diese Matrix von der abendländischen Philosophie, d.h. von der Seinsgeschichte (mit oder ohne „y“, je nach Gusto), und führe sie nur zu ihrer radikalsten Konsequenz: und erst darin bestehe Heideggers Größe. Die erste These aufzuzeigen und auf der zweiten zu beharren ist die außerordentliche Leistung, die die Auslegung von DDC kennzeichnet: durch diesen hermeneutischen Kurzschluss verbrämt sie auf der Grundlage der zweiten die Bedeutung der ersten These.

Ihre Argumentation bedient sich eines polemischen Geistes, der es ihr erlaubt, sich gleichermaßen von den Apologeten Heideggers und von seinen Kritikern zu distanzieren, vor allen von Emmanuel Faye, den DDC bezichtigt, seine bahnbrechende Studie Heidegger. Die Einführung des Nationalsozialismus in die Philosophie ausgerechnet „2004, ein Jahr nach Derridas Tod“ veröffentlicht zu haben (34). Zehn Jahre später, nach der Veröffentlichung der Schwarzen Hefte, sei es zwar nicht mehr möglich, die politische und philosophische Dimension von Heideggers Engagement für den Nationalsozialismus zu leugnen, dennoch dürfe man auch nicht dem „mittelmäßige[n] Revanchismus“ und dem „starke[n] reaktionäre[n] Trieb“ derjenigen folgen, die Heidegger bei den Philosophiestudenten in Misskredit bringen wollen, um ihn „aus den demokratischen Diskursen zu verbannen“ (34). Man dürfe keinesfalls mit dem Strom „von alten und neuen Anklägern, aber auch von liberalen Kritikern, hartgesottenen Analytikern, Biedermännern jeder Art“, die sich endlich mit einem erleichterten „Goodbye Heidegger“ von dessen tiefgründigen Denken verabschieden möchten, schwimmen (34). Mit dieser Polemik will DDC offensichtlich den verstorbenen Heidegger-Kenner Franco Volpi treffen. Nachdem die kritische Einleitung für seine italienische Übersetzung der Beiträge (Heidegger 2007) von Hermann Heidegger zensiert worden war, trug er sie unter dem Titel „Goodbye Heidegger“ auf dem I Congreso Internacional de Fenomenología y Hermenéutica an der Universidad Andrés Bello in Santiago de Chile vor. Indem sie die Schwarzen Hefte mit dem „Logbuch eines Schiffbrüchigen, der die Nacht der Welt durchwandert“ vergleicht, verwendet DDC dieselbe Metapher, mit der Volpi das mit Heidegger abrechnende Fazit seiner zensierten Einleitung betitelte: „Schiffbrüchiger im Meer des Seins“, „§9 Náufrago en el mar del Ser“ (Volpi 2008). Von Volpis Auslegung der Beiträge übernimmt DDC ferner auch die Anregung, „einen kontinuierlichen Initiationsweg“ zwischen „den exoterischen, für die Öffentlichkeit bestimmten, und den esoterischen, an wenige [sic] gerichtete Schriften“ anzusetzen (115). Diesem Vorschlag folgend kann DDC in überzeugender Weise die Schwarzen Hefte als hermeneutischen Schlüssel der esoterischen – und antisemitischen – Philosophie Heideggers lesen. Jedoch kann sie Volpi die Majestätsbeleidigung nicht verzeihen, dass er sich nach einem der Heidegger- Forschung gewidmeten Leben, dazu veranlasst sah, mit Heidegger bzw. mit den ungeheuren Konsequenzen seines Denkens, „abrechnen“ zu müssen (Feinmann 2009).

Um ihre philosophische Position zu bestimmen, grenzt sich DDC von den folgenden möglichen Strategien ab, die den Zusammenhang zwischen Heidegger und dem Nationalsozialismus verständlich machen möchten (35-40): 1. Arendt (und Gadamer) mit ihrer unhaltbaren Parallele zwischen Plato und Heidegger sowie zwischen Hitler und dem Tyrann aus Syrakus; 2. Gadamer und Rorty, die die politische Inkompetenz der Philosophen zum Argument gemacht haben; 3. Pöggeler, welcher jeden Zusammenhang leugnete und die These des inneren Exils Heideggers wagte; 4. Adorno, Farias und Faye, die in jedem Satz seines Werkes, sogar in seinem Jargon, ihren Faschismusverdacht bestätigt sehen; 5. Habermas und Tugendhat, welche versuchten, Sein und Zeit – noch vermeintlicher Ausdruck der Subjektphilosophie – aus der nachfolgenden Kehre zu isolieren und damit eine „selektive Lektüre“ vorschlugen; 6. Ferry und Renaut, die hingegen einen einheitlichen, „integralere[n] Zugriff“ beanspruchen (39) – im italienischen Original ist in Klammern „oder integralistischer?“ hinzugefügt (2014, 22) –, indem sie das ganze Werk Heideggers unter dem Zeichen seiner radikalen Kritik der Moderne lesen.

DDC schlägt aber einen siebten Weg ein, d.h. eine Richtung, „um die sich zu einem großen Teil die kontinentale Philosophie in ihren verschiedenen Strömungen sammelt“ (39). Sie schließt sich den Thesen von Lacoue-Labarthe (nur mit Heidegger sei der Nationalsozialismus zu verstehen, indem Ausschwitz als das Wesen des Abendlands enthüllt wird), Lyotard (Heideggers Kompromiss mit dem Nationalsozialismus sei keine metaphysische Schuld sondern die Schuld der Metaphysik gewesen) und Derrida (Heidegger sei in dem Projekt der Dekonstruktion der Metaphysik nicht radikal genug gewesen) an und macht aus Heidegger den Kantor der Postmoderne. Um die Zentralität des Antisemitismus in seinem Denken zu verdeutlichen, eignet sie sich die Argumentationen von Farias (1987), Losurdo (1991) und Faye (2004) an. Um trotzdem den philosophischen Wert des Werks Heideggers zu rechtfertigen, schöpft sie mit vollen Händen aus der Tradition, die Gadamer, Derrida und Lacoue-Labarthe als polemische Antwort auf Farias angeregt hatten.

Nach dieser polemischen Einleitung führt DCC die These ein, dass der philosophische Antisemitismus Heideggers kein isoliertes Phänomen darstelle, sondern vielmehr die ganze deutsche Philosophie und sogar die gesamte abendländische Metaphysik kennzeichne. So gesehen, scheint für die Autorin die Bedeutung der Schwarzen Hefte nicht in der Frage nach der individuellen Verantwortung Heideggers, sondern vielmehr in der Bezeugung der mutigen Radikalität, mit der er die Metaphysik zu Ende gedacht habe, zu liegen.

DDC unterstellt eine vermeintliche Denklinie, die, von Luther über Kant, Hegel und Nietzsche führend, in Hitler gemündet sei. Die Genealogie dieser „deutschen Tradition“ spiegelt – und daraus macht DDC kein Geheimnis – einen der zahlreichen revisionistischen Versuche wider, womit die Verantwortlichen der nationalsozialistischen Propaganda die Schuld für diese in die Schuhe historischer Präzedenzfälle schoben, z.B. indem Luthers Judenschrift als die erste grausame Attacke der Presse gegen die Juden gepriesen wurde (47). Diese Teleologie wird von DDC im zweiten Kapitel sehr ernst genommen.

Sie schreibt den Antisemitismus Luthers in den eschatologischen Rahmen der antijudaischen Linie der Substitutionstheologie ein. Dieser Theologie zufolge habe Christus den Bund zwischen Gott und Israel gebrochen und durch einen neuen Bund ersetzt, welcher allein die Erlösung versprechen könne. Ihre Analyse von Hitlers Antisemitismus in Mein Kampf (102-110) will zeigen, wie sich die antisemitischen Elemente der „deutschen Tradition“ sich in dem von der nationalsozialistischen Bewegung gepredigten Massen- und Vernichtungsantisemitismus wiederfinden lassen.

Zur Ergänzung ihrer berechtigten Anklage der christlichen Theologie sollte man vielleicht auch die Arbeit von Jules Isaac erwähnen, der die Thesen des theologischen Antijudaismus 1948 in seinem Jesus und Israel exegetisch widerlegte. Seitdem wurden der Antijudaismus und dessen Verurteilung ein großes Thema der theologischen Debatte, welche u.a. Widerhall in der Erklärung Nostra Aetate des Zweiten Vatikanischen Konzils (1965) fand. Die Argumentation von DDC hat also den Wert, die eschatologischen und apokalyptischen Elemente des theologisch gefärbten Antisemitismus des 20. Jahrhundert ernst zu nehmen. Die These der Kontinuität der „deutschen Tradition“ wird allerdings von der historischen Rezeptionsforschung der antisemitischen Schriften Luthers zurückgewiesen. Bis zur zweiten Hälfte des 19. Jahrhunderts fanden Luthers politische Schriften gegen die Juden keine große Verbreitung. Sie gewannen mit dem Aufkommen des Wunsches nach einer Germanisierung des Christentums in einigen Milieus der evangelischen Theologie (Kaufmann 2014) an Bedeutung. Erst damit konnte Luther Gegenstand (und Vorwand) für die Verbreitung antisemitischer Presse werden. Die These, dass der Antisemitismus das Herzstück der „deutschen Tradition“ ausmache, dient DDC jedoch dazu, ihre postmoderne Lektüre Heideggers zu bestätigen: nicht nur er, sondern die ganze „Onto-Theo-Logie“ des Abendlands war antisemitisch. Heideggers Destruktion dieser Tradition könne also sogar hilfreich sein, um sich von ihrem Antisemitismus zu befreien.

In dem Zusammenhang dieser Auslegung des Antisemitismus der „deutschen Tradition“ fällt insbesondere die Vehemenz ihrer Missbilligung von Kants Universalismus auf. DDC geht ausgiebig auf den unglücklichen Ausdruck „Euthanasie des Judentums“ aus Kants Streit der Fakultäten ein (68). Mit diesem Ausdruck schlug Kant vor, dass das Judentum der „Religion Jesu“ direkt in ihrer rationalen Version folgen solle. Der gute Tod sei für das Judentum nicht die Bekehrung zum Christentum – eine Sekte unter anderen, obgleich die rationalere – sondern das stufenlose Erreichen der rationalsten Religion, d.h. die „reine moralische Religion“. Diese Aussage Kants wird von DDC als das Ergebnis der aufklärerischen Säkularisierung der Substitutionstheologie gedeutet, in der das Christentum selbst durch die rationale Religion der reinen Moral zu ersetzen sei.

Aus den Belegen zahlreicher antijudaischer Einflüsse auf die Religionsphilosophie Kants will DDC die von Lyotard veranschlagte „Schuld der Metaphysik“ ableiten. Die Schlussfolgerung, dass „der Jude“ konstitutiv jedem Definitionsversuch entgehe und deswegen die Rache Kants erleiden musste, überzeugt allerdings nicht. Dass das Judentum nicht „in Begriffe zu fassen“ sei, denn dies sei ein „unmögliches Unternehmen, in dem das zu Definierende sich der Definition entzieht“, gehört zu den Grundvoraussetzungen der philosophischen Position DDCs. Kants Auseinandersetzung mit dem Judentum zeige in ihrem Wortlaut nur, wie „der Jude“ „außerhalb der Metaphysik situiert [wird], die, um triumphieren zu können, seine Euthanasie verfolgt“ (69).

Die „deutsche Tradition“ gilt als Auftakt der zentralen Hypothese des Buchs: Aus den Schwarzen Heften lasse sich Heideggers „metaphysischer Antisemitismus“ erst durch die rhetorischen Figuren der „Metapher einer Abwesenheit“ erschließen (125ff.). DDC hebt hervor, dass, obwohl die Termini Jude, jüdisch, Judentum in den Überlegungen aus der Zeit zwischen 1938 und 1941[3] lediglich vierzehnmal auftauchen, Heidegger sich einer antisemitisch kodierten Sprache bedient habe, welche den Regeln der Lingua Tertii Imperii folgt, d.h. die verbrämend anspielungsreiche Sprache des Dritten Reiches, die Victor Klemperer in seinem 1947 erschienenem Werk LTI – Notizbuch eines Philologen untersucht hatte (1947). DDC erwähnt zwar die Abkürzung LTI in dem Schlüsselparagraph ihrer hermeneutischen Auslegung (125-126), vergisst aber, das Werk Klemperers ordnungsgemäss zu zitieren und kommt erst so nebenbei an zwei anderen Stellen (173; 233) darauf zurück. Die Konsequenz der Hermeneutik der „Metapher einer Abwesenheit“ besteht darin, dass die termini technici der Philosophie Heideggers unheimliche Konturen annahmen. Damit „spitz[t] sich die ontologische Differenz zu“ (128) und wird zur Matrix des planetarischen Krieges zwischen dem (deutschen) Sein bzw. Seyn und dem (jüdischen) Seienden: die Juden werden der „Entwurzelung alles Seienden aus dem Sein“ bezichtigt (GA 96, 243; zit. 27). „Seinsvergessenheit“ und „Seinsverborgenheit“ seien für Heidegger eine jüdische Schuld. Immerhin habe aber, so DDC, Heidegger den Mut gehabt, die Judenfrage auf die Seinsfrage zurückzuführen, damit die Judenfrage „in ihrer abgründigen Tiefe nicht als Rassenproblem, sondern als metaphysische Frage“ auftrete (131). Alles ereignet sich in einer tragischen Landschaft, die den lyrischen Pathos der Autorin entflammt: die heideggersche, kalte Nacht des Seins verlange, den Untergang des Abends nicht zu akzeptieren, sondern einen neuen Weg in der „Nacht des neuen Anfangs“ zu versuchen, in der Erwartung eines neuen Morgens. Das interessanteste Kapitel, im Rahmen der von DDC vorgenommenen Wiederverwertung mit Vorzeichenänderung der Topoi des metaphysischen Antisemitismus Heideggers, befasst sich mit dem Zusammenhang zwischen Heidegger und Carl Schmitt. Die Relevanz Schmitts für den Ansatz DDCs ergibt sich aus der Kritik Taubes an Schmitt. Taubes zufolge sei Schmitt ein „Apokalyptiker der Gegenrevolution“, der von oben herab denke, an der Seite der Gewalten dieser Welt, welche durch die Funktion des „katechon“ die messianische Zeit bremsen möchten. Taubes identifiziert sich hingegen mit dem Messianismus und will sich als Apokalyptiker verstehen, der „von unten her“ denkt (222). So wie Taubes zur Wiederherstellung der Legitimierung des Denkens Schmitts durch seine Kritik beitrug, so möchte DDC sich für Heideggers metaphysischen Antisemitismus auf der Grundlage der postmodernen Auseinandersetzung einsetzen.

Heideggers Abrechnung mit Schmitts Kategorien des Politischen sei „bündig“. Sie gipfele „in dem h[ä]rt[esten und destruktivsten (liquidatorio) aller] Verdikt[e]“ (wie es im Original zu lesen ist (225; It: 179) – der Ton des Superlativen ist in der deutschen Übersetzung abhandengekommen): „Carl Schmitt denkt liberal“ (GA 86, 174). Nach der Lektüre der Schwarzen Hefte scheint jedoch diese Abrechnung in ihrer Universaldeutung der kindischen Geste des tu quoque ziemlich banal: Auch du, Schmitt, hast dich mit der Metaphysik kompromittiert, denn du hast auch mit den liberalen Kategorien des modernen Subjekts gedacht. Denn was sei es anderes als liberal, in der metaphysischen Dichotomie Freund/Feind zu denken? Zum Glück helfe Heidegger hier: Die Opposition sei nicht Ursprung, sondern Ergebnis des Politischen, welches in seinem Wesen polemos sei.

DDC lädt uns ein, uns mit Heidegger „auf einen steilen, wenig begangenen Weg, der vom Staat aus zur pólis zurückführt“, zu begeben (225). Mit diesen bewundernden Worten beschreibt sie den Weg, „dem die ‚nationale Revolution‘ hätte folgen müssen“. Die Revolution nämlich, die „angetreten [war], wiederzusammenzuführen, was die Moderne getrennt hatte: die griechische pólis und den Staat“ (225-226). Während in der Regel die pólis als Vorbild der deliberativen Demokratie gilt, schöpfe hingegen Heidegger DDC zufolge „die Ressourcen des Deutschen aus und folg[e] seinen homophonischen Verweisen“: Staat, Stadt, Staat, Stätte, gestatten. Daraus sei ersichtlich, dass „auf Deutsch“ pólis gestattet die Statt – in dem Sinne, dass sie das menschliche Wohnen ermöglicht“, bedeutet (226). Dank dieses etymologischen Schamanismus der indoeuropäischen deutsch-griechischen Achse, welcher schon von Beierwaltes in seinem Heideggers Rückgang zu den Griechen (1995) exemplarisch analysiert wurde – kann DDC uns versichern, dass die pólis sich als der Ort der noch ungedachten, jeweils neuen und singulären Möglichkeiten“ erweise, denn Heidegger halte sich von jeder „instrumentalen Auffassung der Politik“ fern. Seine Absicht sei nur, „die politischen Kategorien dem Begriffszusammenhang der Moderne [zu] entziehen, das ‚Politische‘ ab[zu]bauen, oder, besser [zu] dekonstruieren“ (226).

Das Paradigma der Dekonstruktion wird damit zur Verklärung der Destruktion der modernen Politik. Den inzwischen veröffentlichten neuen Texten – und nicht nur den Schwarzen Heften – zum Trotz, versucht DDC, die Ansicht Derridas aufrechtzuerhalten, dass zwischen polemos und Krieg ein abgründiger Unterschied bestehe. Jedoch scheint es anhand ihrer Textbelege eher der weniger tröstende Fall zu sein, dass Heidegger die Kämpfer des real existierenden Weltkrieges überzeugen möchte, durch ihren Krieg diesen Abgrund zu überbrücken: es gäbe einerseits Kämpfer, die eines Feindes, eines Gegners bedürften, und andererseits solche, die für ein Ziel, für eine wesentliche Entscheidung kämpfen können (GA 96, 183; 232). DDC würde gerne in diesem Anspruch Heideggers einen nichtkriegerischen polemos sehen. Heidegger betont allerdings, dass es erst durch die Setzung eines eigentlichen und höchsten Kriegsziels, möglich sei, als Überlegener den Kampf zu gewinnen, ohne durch die mimetische Steigerung der Strategie des Feindes auch im Fall eines Kampfgewinns besiegt zu werden. Daher müssen die Deutschen mit den Waffen und mit dem Geist überlegen kämpfen und siegen. DDC möchte hingegen, dass ihr Philosoph sich schon 1940 „über den planetarischen Krieg keine Illusionen mehr“ gemacht habe und dass er sich lediglich darum gekümmert habe, den Unterschied zwischen Kampf und Krieg zu bewahren (232-233). Vor der historischen und der von ihr selbst angedeuteten hermeneutischen Wirklichkeit kann ihr ständiges Kokettieren zwischen den Zeilen mit dem revolutionären Potential von Heideggers Antiliberalismus nichts anderes als einen revisionistischen Beigeschmack erhalten.

Strenger ist ihre Verurteilung der heideggerschen Übernahme des Mythos der Verschwörung des Weltjudentums gegen die Deutschen (233-241). Im Ausgang von der Arbeit von Peter Trawny zum Thema zeigt sie, wie Heidegger mit Eckart, Rosenberg und Hitler diese Weltanschauung geteilt und zum ontologischen System erhoben habe, indem er die geheimen Mächte schilderte, die die „jüdische Machenschaft“ durch die grausamsten Erträge der Metaphysik steuerten. Eine solche Verschwörungstheorie sei ihr zufolge kein Randthema des Antisemitismus, den Heidegger in die Seinsgeschichte eingeschrieben habe. Nichtsdestotrotz stellt die Autorin die Gültigkeit des universalen, seinsgeschichtlichen Narratives nie in Frage, vielmehr benötigt sie die Seinsgeschichte als Ausgangspunkt ihrer messianisch gefärbten, post-metaphysischen Geschichtsphilosophie.

Nachdem sie den radikalen Essentialismus der Geste Heideggers, welcher den Völkern, vor allem den Juden und den Deutschen, metaphysische Kategorien und Aufträge zuweist, aufgezeigt hat, stellt DDC ihre Argumentation auf den Kopf und feiert die Kühnheit, mit der Heidegger „sowohl die Definition der Identität als auch den Begriff des Wesens“ einer Kritik unterzogen habe (257). Allerdings – und darin besteht ihre gekonnte argumentative Pirouette – habe er sich durch seine mit den Autoren der Nürnberger Gesetze geteilten Sorge, „den Juden zu definieren und zu identifizieren“ mit der Metaphysik kompromittiert: „Heidegger verrät gewissermaßen die Seinsfrage. Wenn er in Bezug auf die Judenfrage danach verlangt, das Wesen der Juden zu definieren, fällt er in die Metaphysik zurück“ (258). Das dichotomische Verfahren, das den Juden aus der Geschichte des Abendlandes für immer ausgeschlossen habe, sei „jedoch nicht [verständlich] für einen Philosophen, der sich die Frage nach der Metaphysik stellt und versucht, sie durch die Destruktion ihrer erstarrten Sprache in ein Anderes zu versetzen“ (259). Trotz der sichtlichen Enttäuschung richtet die Autorin ihre Anklage an seine Logik: Nicht der Philosoph, sondern „[d]ie dichotomischen Begriffsreihen entscheiden über das Verhältnis zwischen dem Sein und den Juden“ (259); „Weil er nicht wie der Jurist an der Definition und der Selektion teilnimmt, scheint er von einer unmittelbaren Verantwortung entfernter zu sein. Andererseits ist er umso verantwortlicher, desto näher er an den metaphysischen Dichotomien arbeitet. Er haftet für die Metaphysik“ (259). Die Schuld Heideggers bestehe also in dieser unerwarteten Nähe zu den metaphysischen Kategorien!

Diese Nähe ist der wichtigste Grund für den Ausdruck „metaphysischer Antisemitismus“, welchen DDC der Bezeichnung Trawnys „seinsgeschichtlicher Antisemitismus“ gegenüberstellt (Trawny 2014a). Das Adjektiv „seinsgeschichtlich“ habe „eine mystische Aura und einen esoterischen Ton, die die diskriminierende Geste mildern“ könne und „Heideggers Stellung in der Diskussion um den Antisemitismus isolieren, als ob sie ein unicum wäre“. Denn, wenn der Jude aus der Seinsgeschichte ausgetrieben wird, sei der Grund darin zu suchen, „dass Heidegger bei der Definition des Juden zu einem Metaphysiker wird“ (260) bzw., wie es treffender im Original heißt, weil Heidegger „die Metaphysik nicht verlassen“ habe (211).

Der größte Unterschied zwischen ihrer und Trawnys Konzeption, besteht darin, dass Trawny, den Antisemitismus nur für die Seinsgeschichte gelten lässt. Dies lasse jedoch „noch die Möglichkeit offen, dass Heidegger vor und nach der ‚Kehre‘ kein Antisemit gewesen“ sei (Di Cesare 2015a, 83). Noch mehr: DDC hatte sich nicht gescheut, Trawny im italienischen Original vorzuwerfen, dass seine These verberge, „dass Heideggers Denken ‚kontaminiert‘ sei. Jedoch sei das Wort ‚Kontamination‘ bedenklich, da es die Metapher des Juden, der verseucht und Unreinheit bringt – sogar, paradoxerweise, mit dem antisemitischen Diskurs – wieder wachrufe.“ (Di Cesare 2014a, 294, FN 44). In der von Trawny selbst revidierten deutschen Fassung ist lediglich zu lesen, dass dieser „die Frage nach der ‚Kontamination‘ auf eine kritische und offene Weise“ gestellt habe (Di Cesare 2016, 125, FN 46). Auf jeden Fall ist festzustellen, dass DDC, im Unterschied zu Trawny, keine Bedenken hat, den Schatten des Antisemitismus auf das ganze Werk Heideggers zu werfen. Die größte Herausforderung für die künftige Heidegger-Forschung bestehe nun darin, den Zusammenhang zwischen Sein und Zeit und den Schwarzen Heften zu untersuchen (Di Cesare 2015a, 123-127).

Anders als Trawnys „seinsgeschichtlicher Antisemitismus“ solle der Ausdruck „metaphysischer Antisemitismus“ Heideggers esoterische Sprache entmystifizieren. So lasse sich sein Ansatz nicht nur in die philosophische Tradition einordnen, sondern zugleich auch in den Massenantisemitismus seiner Zeit, welcher – nach dem Programm von Hitlers Mein Kampf – die antisemitische Gnosis einiger völkischer Autoren in einen dogmatischen Massenglauben umsetzen sollte. Dies zeigte bereits die von DDC zitierte Analyse von Waldemar Gurian aus dem Jahre 1932:

Der Antisemitismus, der im neuen Nationalismus auflebt, ist also viel tiefer begründet als seine Vorläufer im 19. Jahrhundert. Der Jude wird als eine metaphysische Erscheinung betrachtet, vom gesamten Lebensgefühl her abgelehnt […]. Der metaphysische Antisemitismus wird zu einem Massenglauben, nachdem er vorher trotz der Popularität einzelner völkischer Autoren, vor allem Chamberlains, nur eine Angelegenheit kleiner gebildeter Kreise gewesen war. (Gurian 1932, 77)

DDC übernimmt Gurians Ausdruck, seine Pointe geht aber durch ihre postmetaphysische Verklärung verloren: Während Gurian die Neuigkeit und den Ursprung des totalitären Antisemitismus hervorgehoben hatte, will sie damit die „Kontinuität“ mit der Vergangenheit unterstreichen (Di Cesare, 2015a: 84): Es handle sich um die metaphysische Übertragung des christlichen Antijudaismus, welcher, mit seiner Dichotomie, die abendländische Philosophie durchdrungen habe (262). Sie schließt sich damit der These Lyotards an, der zufolge Heidegger sich die „‚Schuld‘ der Metaphysik“ zu eigen gemacht habe. Es handle sich bei ihm nicht um den opportunistischen, „politische[n] Fehler eines apolitisch Unbegabten“, nicht um eine „triviale Entgleisung, die ordinäre Verirrung der Meisten“, sondern um „ein[en] philosophische[n] Irrtum, der Irrtum des Philosophen, der die Metaphysik in Frage gestellt“ habe (262-263). Also doch ein unicum.

In ihrer Interpretation warnt – so dichtet DDC um – der figurale Jude Heidegger und versucht vergeblich, ihm einen Ausweg aus der Metaphysik anzubieten. „Der Jude, dem Heidegger auf dem seinsgeschichtlichen Weg begegnet, verwehrt ihm den Übergang, hindert ihn daran, die Quelle der Reinheit zu erreichen. Es ist, als ob der Jude ihn warnen würde: Quelle und Reinheit gibt es nicht. Es gibt weder Quelle noch Ursprung, weder Reinheit, noch Eigentlichkeit, weder Bodenständigkeit noch Autochthonie – weder für den Juden noch für den Deutschen noch für irgendwen. Diese Warnung klingt für Heidegger bedrohlich, zumal sie das zu artikulieren scheint, was der ‚Ruf des Gewissens‘ ihm schon seit langem und wiederholt sagte. Der Jude sagt ihm, dass seine ‚Entscheidung‘, oder besser, seine Scheidung, in der er sich dem Sein zuwendet, ein Holzweg ist.“ (264).

Wenn Heidegger ihm nur zuhören würde – seufzt DDC in ihrer erneuten Variation zum Thema – würde der figurale Jude seiner Philosophie eine „neue ‚Kehre‘ verleihen“ können (Di Cesare, 2015a: 87-88). Der von DDC skizzierte figurale Jude könne Heidegger nämlich helfen, den eigentlichen Weg der Dekonstruktion einzuschlagen, denn erst mit dem absolut Anderen des Judentums, sei es endlich möglich, das Sein zu unterminieren. Denn der Jude „setz[e] dessen [des Seins] Unversehrtheit und dessen Reinheit aufs Spiel, stürz[e] anarchisch seine arché um. Der Zusammenhang zwischen Judenfrage und Seinsfrage lieg[e] hier.“ (264)

Zwar hat Heidegger dem figuralen Juden nicht zugehört. Aber, trotz seiner gewaltsamen Ablehnung, habe er doch das tiefe Geheimnis des Juden erahnt, gibt DDC verhalten zu verstehen. „Da oben auf dem Weg, auf dem er allein dem Abgrund begegnet“ (265), habe Heidegger doch „intuitiv“ erkannt, „dass der Jude nicht der ontologische Feind“ sei, „keine Differenz“ sondern „die Grenze des Über, das nur der Andere in seinem Anderssein eröffnen kann“ (266). Obwohl er also die Ethik eines Levinas schon geahnt habe, konnte sich Heidegger nicht von dem Gewicht der Tradition befreien: „Doch Heidegger tritt zurück. Ihm ist das Sein wichtiger. Er lässt den Juden fallen. Dabei wiederholt er eine den Philosophen nur allzu vertraute Geste. Für den Juden gibt es keinen Platz in der Geschichte des Seins“ (266).

Und wieder kann DDC sich nicht erklären, warum ihr Meister trotz seiner tiefen apokalyptischen Intuitionen nicht konsequent sein konnte: „Heideggers Ausschließungsgeste ist umso beunruhigender, als sie in der dürftigen Zeit, in der Nacht der Welt, an der Grenze zum Abgrund vollzogen wird.“ (266). DDC zahlt allerdings den Preis dieser Inkonsistenz gerne, um in ihrem dichterischen Abgrunddialog die postmoderne Auslegung Heideggers zu retten, ohne seine uneingeschränkte philosophische Parteinahme für die antisemitische Weltanschauung zu leugnen. Erst dadurch kann sie aus dem Wahn des metaphysischen Antisemitismus Heideggers ihre postmoderne Offenbarung des anti-metaphysischen Geheimnisses des Juden mitteilen.

Das vierte und abschließende Kapitel des Buches, Nach Ausschwitz, verortet den Topos „Heideggers Schweigen“ in der deutschen Nachkriegszeit, die von einem schleichenden „Antisemitismus ohne Juden“, von Ressentiment und der Überzeugung, die eigentlichen Opfer zu sein, charakterisiert gewesen sei. In dieser Stimmung, die offensichtlich mit derjenigen Heideggers übereinstimmte, und die DDC zufolge stellvertretend für die ganze deutsche Nation steht, habe niemand Ausschwitz philosophisch gedacht: dies ist die schwerste Anklage, die DDC gegen die (deutsche) Philosophie erhebt.

Nur eine Handvoll Juden habe Ausschwitz gedacht. DDC stilisiert sie zu Figuren einer kosmopolitischen Diaspora von jüdischen Denkern hoch. Sie seien „keine Aufklärer“, sie „teilen den Fortschrittsmythos nicht und lesen die Geschichte vielmehr als eine ununterbrochene Reihe von Katastrophen“. Sie würden wissen, „dass die Barbarei die andere Seite der Moderne ist“ (271). Zu diesen Vertretern „eines ‚romantischen Antikapitalismus‘ und eines libertären Denkens“ sind „Schüler von Heidegger“ (272) wie Levinas, welcher die Philosophie des Nationalsozialismus ernst nahm, oder auch Taubes und Jonas, Forscher der Gnosis und der Apokalyptik, und nicht zuletzt Arendt und Benjamin zu zählen. Nur diese „Schüler“ haben den von dem Nationalsozialismus angefeuerten planetarischen Krieg als – in Jonas` Wortlaut – „den ersten Religionskrieg der Moderne“, das neue bellum judaicum, verstanden (274). Auf der einen Seite der Front befinden sich also die Schülers Heideggers, auf der anderen der besiegte Meister, der sich, so will es der von DDC mehrfach ausgeschmückte „regelrecht[e] Topos der Philosophie“ (277), hinter seinem Er-Schweigen verbarrikadierte. Auf dieses Schweigen möchte DDC durch die Schwarzen Hefte ein neues Licht werfen. Heideggers Schweigen sei zunächst durch seinen eigenen Begriff des Schweigens zu verstehen, dann durch die Figurationen des Schweigens der Konstellation Adorno, Celan und Heidegger. Diese Konstellation ist, mitsamt der darin verborgene Anarchie Heideggers, ist ein beliebtes Thema Trawnys (2014b; 2010).

Die auf der Rückseite gepriesene Erweiterung in Bezug auf die Schwarzen Hefte der Jahre 1942 bis 1948 ist in dieser Hinsicht weniger aussagekräftig als eine verschwiegene Selbstzensur ihrer eigenen Interpretation des meist stillen Dialogs zwischen Celan und Heidegger. Denn die italienische Fassung lässt die Möglichkeit noch offen, dass Heidegger eine Spur von Schamgefühl vor dem Übermaß einer Katastrophe – die er „in jenem Ausmaß hätte nicht ahnen können“ (2014a, 231-232) – gehegt habe. Sein Schweigen sei weder kaltes Desinteresse (wie bei Jünger), noch verächtliche Haltung (wie bei Schmitt), weder Weigerung noch Zurückhaltung, sondern Verzicht gewesen. Er habe nicht zugelassen, als Komplize der Judenvernichtung zu gelten, aber zugleich auch nicht versucht, damit nichts zu tun gehabt zu haben. Auf der Grundlage der Schwarzen Hefte (bis 1941) schien für DDC (2014a) seine Haltung konsequent gewesen zu sein: Heidegger konnte keine Verurteilung aussprechen, weil er kein Wort dafür finden konnte, wie Derrida es ausgedrückt hatte. Um diese These zu bestärken, schmückt DDC das Thema einer von ihr nicht belegten Randnotiz in der Ausgabe von Celans Meridian im Besitz Heideggers aus: Heidegger habe am Rande der Stelle, wo es bei Celan um das Dichten als eine Form des Entsprechens geht, „Ent-Sagen“ notiert: Heidegger habe also nicht verzichtet zu sprechen, sondern das Wort dem Dichter überlassen. Celan habe auf das Wort Heideggers gewartet. Heidegger habe aber gewusst, dass er dieses Wort Celan zugestanden habe. Als ob Heidegger Celan gebeten hätte: „Übersetze mich, wenn ‚Übersetzen‘ ‚Erlösen‘ bedeutet (2014a, 232-233). Ihre Strategie der hermeneutischen Entstellung tritt hier paroxistisch auf.

Anstelle dieser Verdrehung gibt nun DDC in der deutschen Fassung zu, dass sich Heidegger in den Schwarzen Heften doch eindeutig geäußert habe. Damit sei Celans Hoffnung „ein für allemal enttäuscht“ (285). Wie steht es aber mit der Hoffnung der Autorin, durch den figuralen Juden Heideggers Denken eine definitiv postmoderne Kehre zu verleihen? Anstelle einer Selbstkritik übernimmt die Autorin Heideggers Profilierung seines Schweigens als polemische Distanzierung vom öffentlichen Gerede. Denn Heidegger bezeuge in den erst 2015 veröffentlichten Überlegungen, dass er nicht etwa geschwiegen habe, weil ihm die Vorstellung fehlte (wie Derrida noch andeutete), sondern um „zu Zeiten“ zu reden, und zwar „in der Sage der Schrift“ (GA 97, 363). Nach diesen endgültigen Worten scheint es, als ob Heideggers Bitte an Celan um erlösende Übersetzung selbst von ihrem figuralen Puppentheater zu viel verlange. Mit Bedauern stellt sie also fest, dass „ein großer Topos der Philosophie des 20. Jahrhunderts: Heideggers Schweigen über Ausschwitz“ verschwunden sei (309-310). Verschwunden ist nun sicherlich auch einer der anspruchvollsten coup de théâtre ihres Buches.

Wie steht es mit diesem Schweigen, wenn Heidegger doch nie geschwiegen, sondern „zu verschiedenen Gelegenheiten […] sich auf direkte oder indirekte Weise geäußert“ habe? Der Brief über den ‚Humanismus‘ (1947) und Die Frage nach der Technik (1953) „erweisen sich, zumal wenn beide im Licht der Schwarzen Heften gelesen werden, als Selbstapologie“ (295). Diese eindeutige Aufklärung genügt DDC allerdings noch nicht. Nahtlos fügt sie ihre Verklärung an: In diesen Texten „versuch[e] er auch die durch die Shoah entstandenen philosophischen Fragen zu beantworten“ (295). Wie kann allerdings beides zugleich gelten: Selbstapologie und Besinnung auf Ausschwitz?

DDC stellt fest, dass Heideggers Äußerungen in dem Briefwechsel mit Marcuse und in den Bremer Vorträgen „nur die Spitze eines Eisbergs bilden, den die Schwarzen Hefte weiter auftauchen lassen“ (319). Das argumentative Rückgrat dieser längst bekannten und oft bagatellisierten Äußerungen liegt in der sturen Behauptung der wesentlichen Identität phänomenal unterscheidbarer Ereignisse. DDC gibt diese Äußerungen wieder, kommentiert sie und stellt sie in den hermeneutischen Kreis der Schwarzen Hefte. Als Marcuse ihn zur Rechenschaft zog, erwiderte Heidegger, dass das, was über das Regime der Verfolgung der Juden gelte, „genau so“ gelte, wenn „statt ‚Juden‘ ‚Ostdeutsche‘“ gesetzt werde, nur mit dem erschwerenden Umstand, dass die Verfolgung der Juden den Deutschen geheim gehalten wurde, während die Vertreibung der Ostdeutschen der Weltöffentlichkeit bekannt sei (GA 16, 31; 286). In Bremen hatte er dem Publikum eine Variation des Themas angeboten: „Ackerbau ist jetzt motorisierte Ernährungsindustrie, im Wesen das Selbe wie Fabrikation von Leichen in Gaskammern und Vernichtungslagern, das Selbe wie die Blockade und Aushungerung von Ländern, das Selbe wie die Fabrikation von Wasserstoffbomben“ (GA 79, 27; 290).

Die hermeneutische Nebeneinanderstellung hindert DDC allerdings nicht daran, sich Heideggers sogenannter Kritik der Technik, deren Kern gerade in diesem zynischen „das Selbe“ liegt – in der vermeintlich provokativen Aufforderung, jeden Unterschied zu übersehen, den Phänomenen jeden Wahrheitswert abzustreiten – weiterhin philosophisch auszuliefern, in dem sie fragt: „Doch wer oder was provoziert hier? Heidegger? Oder steckt die Provokation nicht vielmehr im Gestell selbst? Beschränkt sich der Philosoph nicht nur darauf, die nivellierende Macht des Gestells zutage zu fördern?“ (290). Heidegger mache also nichts anderes als das Wesen der Technik „zur Sprache zu bringen“. Auch wenn es für uns hart klingen mag, von einer Gleichsetzung von Ackerbau und Vernichtungsfabrik zu hören, erklärt DDC: „Wer den Vergleich zurückweist, ignoriert die Logik der Sache. Er weicht dem aus, was die Provokation zu denken geben will. Er verschließt die Augen vor der Gefahr“ (291). Aber wer spricht hier? Heidegger? DDC? Oder eine ihrer Figurationen? Oder vielleicht doch niemand. Denn das Spiel besteht nämlich darin, nichts direkt auszusagen, sondern durch Fragen Unterstellungen zu erwecken, deren Behauptung lediglich in der logischen und moralischen Verantwortung des Zuhörers liegt. Wer nur provokativ fragt, entzieht sich der Verantwortung. Und worin soll denn überhaupt Heideggers Provokation bestehen? In seinen Äußerungen kommt vielmehr eine ambivalente Verschwiegenheit trotz der unverhohlenen revisionistischen Absicht der stetigen argumentativen Um- und Entstellung zutage. Was heißt denn sonst, dass „vom Wesen der Technik eher […] einzig die Entfremdung des Daseins vom Sein zählt [?] Und so wie der Jude, dieser Entfremdung bezichtigt, fallen gelassen wird, so wird die Vernichtung im nivellierenden und anästhetisierenden Blick des Seinsphilosophen zu einer Erscheinung wie jede andere. Sie wird ontisch indifferent“ (291)?

Obwohl sie seine Indifferenz ablehnt, bewundert DDC Heideggers Gelassenheit und schreibt sie der Metaphysik zu, denn der Grund seiner Gleichgültigkeit gegenüber der Shoah liege in der „unerschütterlich fort[schreitenden Seinsgeschichte], metaphysisch gerichtet in einer Kontinuität mit Nietzsche, mit Hegel und sogar mit Platon“ (291). Das philosophische Projekt, das mit sich die Vernichtung aller Unterschiede und Singularitäten bringt, wurde wortwörtlich in der Endlösung umgesetzt: „Die Vernichtung, die keiner Logik, sei sie politisch, ökonomisch, gesellschaftlich oder militärisch, gehorcht, entspricht der Ontologie. Sie ist in der Geschichte der abendländischen Metaphysik eingeschrieben. In diesem Sinn pointiert Lacoue-Labarthe: ‚Die Apokalypse von Ausschwitz hat nicht mehr und nicht weniger enthüllt als den Grund (essence) des Abendlands‘“ (294).

Wenn Ausschwitz für DDC „mit der Seinsvergessenheit zusammenzuhängen“ (294) scheint – im Original bezeichnete sie diesen Zusammenhang sogar als „nach den Schwarzen Heften mehr denn je unbezweifelbar“ (240) –, könnte der Grund nicht einfach darin liegen, dass die Seinsvergessenheit integraler Bestandteil der Henkerideologie war? Heideggers Unterscheidung zwischen dem eigentlichen Sein-zum-Tode und dem man, das nicht sterben kann, scheint nämlich zu belegen, dass er die Koordinaten der ‚Religion des Todes‘ teilte und philosophisch übersetzte, die in der antisemitischen ‚Kultur von rechts‘ auf dem Kontinent Erfolge feierte (Jesi 1979) und in den Vernichtungslagern umgesetzt wurde (Nesi 2014), bevor sie sich durch Umwege zur Kontinentalphilosophie verwandeln konnte. Es überrascht also nicht, dass Heidegger die „ontologischen Koordinaten“ anbietet, um Primo Levi zu verstehen, welcher über die Gefangenen schrieb: „Man zögert, sie als Lebende zu bezeichnen; man zögert ihren Tod […] als Tod zu bezeichnen“ (298). Es überrascht vielmehr, dass DDC die Tiefe einer solchen Ontologie bewundern kann, indem sie die gewaltsame Einprägung der Logik des Parmenides aus Meßkirch in die Worte der Opfer als eine „suggestive Verwandtschaft“ deuten will (299).

Dies ist nur möglich, wenn man weiterhin an der Seinsgeschichte, an dem Geschick der Metaphysik und an der Machenschaft der Technik trotz jedes Gegenbeweises festhält. An Heideggers vermeintliche Philosophie der Technik zu glauben, heißt, seinen revisionistischen Irreführungen wie tiefsinnigen Holzwegen zu folgen. Nie scheint DDC auf die Idee zu kommen, dass „der esoterische Begriff des ‚Gestells‘“ doch das Ziel haben könnte, den Unterschied zwischen Opfern und Henkern, den sie auf keinen Fall übersehen möchte, eben zu verwischen. In ihrer Interpretation bekommt Heidegger die Konturen eines tragischen Heilands, „der über den Lauf der Geschichte wacht“, dem nicht entgehen könne, „dass nur ein außerordentliches Ereignis die Rettung bringen könnte“ (305): die Sprache seiner (Un)Heilsgeschichte wird von DDC in einer Weise weitergesponnen, die den Eindruck erweckt, als würde sie selbst daran glauben. Das geht aus ihrer Interpretation der Aufzeichnungen hervor, die Heidegger während des Krieges schrieb: es seien Belege der Verstrickung der „Geschichte des Seyns mit der Deutschlands“ (305).

Ihre hermeneutische Analyse der Schwarzen Hefte wird in der deutschen Fassung in Bezug auf die Überlegungen II-VI (1942-1948) erweitert (304-337). Die grausamste dieser Überlegungen, die Rede der „Selbstvernichtung“ der Juden, wurde schon im Februar 2015 vor der Veröffentlichung des neuen Bandes der Gesamtausgabe (GA 97) von DDC selbst im Feuilleton des Corriere della Sera enthüllt und mit einer knappen Darstellung ihrer These des metaphysischen Antisemitismus veröffentlicht (Di Cesare 2015b). Heidegger zufolge bestehe der höchste politische Akt darin, den Gegner zur Selbstvernichtung zu zwingen. Die Endlösung der Judenfrage kulminiere deshalb, „wenn erst das wesenhaft „Jüdische“ im metaphysischen Sinne gegen das Jüdische“ angefeuert wird (GA 97, 20; 310). Erst wenn alles Uneigentliche, was aus den „Juden“ stammt (von der Technik bis hin zur Metaphysik) gegen die Juden selbst gewandt wird, sei ein neuer geschichtlicher Anfang möglich. Dennoch, obwohl die Endlösung als „Ereignis in der Seynsgeschichte eingeschrieben“ war, kommentiert DDC, ereignete sich dieser neue Anfang nicht. Es sei nämlich ein jüdischer Rest übriggeblieben, welcher den Abschluss des Kreises hinderte (311). Nach der bedingungslosen Niederlage wurde das Prinzip der Selbstzerstörung in Heideggers Aufzeichnungen eine Bedrohung für die Deutschen selbst: Die Alliierten versuchten ihm zufolge, die Deutschen zur Untreue zu sich selbst zu zwingen, zur „Uneigentlichkeit“, zur „Verräterei am eigenen Wesen“. Darum sei den Deutschen auf Plakaten die Greuel der Vernichtungslager zu zeigen „blindwütiger“, „zerstörischer“ als die Politik des Dritten Reichs (GA 97, 84-85; 316).

Durch die Exegese der Schwarzen Hefte kommt DDC zuweilen in einen Zustand hermeneutischer Mimikry, welche zum geschmacklosen Chauvinismus wird: „Das Schicksal des Philosophen ist dem seines Volkes gleich; die Identifizierung total“ (315). Denn Heideggers Notizen würden „einen Schleier“ zerreißen: „Sie zwingen dazu, eine Erzählung zu lesen, die sich an künftige Generationen wendet. In ihr artikuliert Heidegger Gefühle, Gedanken und Ängste eines besiegten Volkes, das sich in das Ressentiment zu flüchten versucht.“ (335). Die Schwarzen Hefte seien ihr zufolge „die Geschichte einer Rache, die die Deutschen infamerweise dem alten jüdischen Geist und dem, was von ihm nach Ausschwitz übrig bleibt, zuschrieben“ (338). Ihr j’accuse ist also nicht nur der abendländischen Metaphysik, von Plato bis Hitler, sondern auch an den Deutschen gerichtet. Nur Heidegger scheint durch die postmoderne ‚Kehre‘, die ihm ihr figuraler Jude anbietet, gewissermaßen von der Schmach der eigenen „Sage der Schrift“ verschont zu bleiben.

Die Widersprüche ihres Versuchs, ihre Sensibilität für die Opfer der Shoah mit der Bewunderung für ihren postmodern bunten Heidegger zu versöhnen, treten noch deutlicher zutage, wenn sie über das Bedürfnis eines ganz anderen Denkens“ (344) spekuliert: nachdem „die Grundsätze, die die Philosophie für geltend gehalten hatte, […] die Probe von Ausschwitz nicht bestanden“ haben, sei die Schuld der Metaphysik offenbar geworden (346). Erst das jüdische Denken könne das ‚neue Denken‘ sein, „das sich nicht mehr der Philosophie von Aristoteles oder Hegel unterwerf[e], sondern umgekehrt die ganze metaphysische Tradition in Frage stell[e]“ (344). Das Judentum sei also „ein unassimilierbarer Rest“, „die Öffnung, die die abendländische Zivilisation an der Abdrift in einen totalitären und totalisierenden Universalismus“ hindere (346). Von Lévinas bis Derrida, lasse „die jüdische Subversion die Achse des Seins brechen“ (347). Wenn also Heidegger die Unwirksamkeit des griechisch-christlichen Gottes des Abendlands beklage, sanktioniert DDC den Tod des offen antisemitischen Gottes des heidnischen, germanisierenden Christentums wegen der Darbringung des Judenopfers, welcher das Schicksal des Abendlandes in den Vernichtungslagern vollendet habe (365-366).

Ihr freiwilliges Unterjochen unter die Zwänge der Seynsgeschichte führt die Autorin also zu paradoxalen Ergebnissen: die Identifikation des ganzen Abendlandes mit dem Judenopfer der nationalsozialistischen Gnosis, das wiederum mit der von Heidegger spekulierten Onto-Theo-Logie der Metaphysik gleichgesetzt wird. Um die Seinsfrage in die Judenfrage einzuschreiben, behält DDC sein Narrativ bei und verkehrt Heideggers metaphysischen Antisemitismus in postmetaphysischen Philosemitismus. Damit setzt sie dieselben essentialistischen Voraussetzungen, die sie ablehnen möchte.

Zum Schluss kommt ihr letzter coup de théâtre: die Figur des neuen Anfangs am Abgrund. DDC schlägt mit Schürmann einen „anderen Anfang“ vor, als jüdischer und daher „anarchischer“ Anfang, „weil er sich über einem Abgrund sammelt, der ihn bedroht“. Denn die Eigentlichkeit sei doch „das Aushalten dieser Anarchie“ (366). Indem sie betont, dass Heidegger „An-fang“ mit dem Bindestrich schrieb, um mit diesem „trait d’union“ auf „die abgründige Öffnung jedes Anfangs hin[zudeuten]“, der „keine metaphysische Solidität“ habe, dichtet sie inspiriert: „In der Nacht der Welt, in der dürftigen Zeit, hat Heidegger eine Eschatologie des Seyns umrissen, indem er, wie wohl kein anderer, bis zu den Grenzen des Abend-Landes vorgedrungen ist, um von da aus den Abgrund zu erblicken“ (369). Das Epos eines „Engels im Schwarzwald“ folgt, in dem die Stimmen Heideggers, Hölderlins und Benjamins tragikomisch in Einklang gebracht werden. Diesen Genuss wollen wir aber als Belohnung dem deutschen Leser überlassen, welcher sich mühsam durch all die Kapitel des Buches durchgearbeitet hat, worum ihn DDC im ersten Satz des Vorworts ausdrücklich bittet.

Bevor wir zum Schluss kommen, nur ein paar Anmerkungen zu der Übersetzung. Die deutsche Fassung stumpft leider die anspielungsreichen, lyrischen Töne des Originals ab. Einige Indikative sind zu Konjunktiven der indirekten Rede geworden und umgekehrt. Kleine Übersetzungsfehler verschärfen manchmal ihre gewagten Thesen, wie z.B. wenn gesagt wird, dass die an die Juden adressierte Forderung zu verzeihen „gerade in Deutschland erhoben“ (338) wurde, während im Original es nur darum ging, dass „bald auch in Deutschland“ („presto anche in Germania“ 249), also nicht gerade oder sogar in Deutschland, sondern eben auch dort diese Frage aufgeworfen wurde. Anspielungen werden entstellt, z.B. als „Se metafisica è la questione ebraica, metafisica è anche la soluzione“ (238) mit „wenn die Judenfrage metaphysisch ist, dann ist es auch ihre Antwort (sic!)“, womit das Wortspiel mit „Endlösung“ (soluzione finale) im Incipit des Paragraphen unterschlagen wird (292). Von den Klein- und Großschreibungsfehlern, sei auf einen bezeichnenden Tippfehler verwiesen: Bei der Erklärung der Substitutionstheologie ist die Rede von der Übertragung der Auserwählung „auf das‚ versus (sic!) Israel‘, d.h. auf die Kirche“ (333).

Schließlich, nach der Lektüre von Heidegger, die Juden, die Shoah, kann man nichts anderes sagen, als dass es sich um ein außerordentliches Buch handelt, dessen argumentative Kurzschlüsse immerhin den Wert haben, anregende Assoziationen anzubieten, die zu kritischer Überlegung auffordern. Jedoch zieht DDC aus ihren hermeneutischen Aneinanderreihungen meist Schlussfolgerungen, die im – logischen und moralischen – Widerspruch sowohl zu ihren als auch zu Heideggers Absichten stehen. Wenn ein Interpretationsschema des Werks Heideggers durch die Schwarzen Hefte definitiv implodiert, ad absurdum geführt wird, so ist es sicherlich das postmoderne. Der vergebliche Versuch von DDC, diese Lektüre dennoch retten zu wollen, ist geradezu lächerlich.

Auf jeden Fall ist jedoch ihre Hervorhebung der Relevanz der religiösen und theologischen Figurationen, um Heideggers Verstrickung mit dem Nationalsozialismus zu verstehen, ernst zu nehmen, wobei vielleicht ein bisschen mehr Demut vor der historiografischen Forschung vonnöten wäre. Vielleicht wegen dieser Geringschätzung historischer Fakten, hat sie nicht gemerkt, dass in ihrer Übersetzung der knappen Zusammenfassung von Farias Biografie Heideggers die Jahreszahl und damit auch ihre Reihenfolge durcheinander gebracht wurden: 1909 wird zu 1919, 1910 zu 1915 (351).

Offen bleibt nur die Frage: wer will eigentlich Heidegger für die eigene Weltanschauung zähmen? Wer will aus ihm „einen harmlosen Phänomenologen“ machen (41) – egal ob es noch geht bzw. ob es je ging –, oder wer ihn in die schillernden Kleider des postmodernen jüdisch-anarchischen Denkens zwingen?


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[1]           Eine Kostprobe ihrer mit Anspielungen gespickten Sprache haben wir bereits in Di Cesare (2014b; 2007).

[2]           Verweise ohne Angabe gelten im Folgenden für Di Cesare 2016.

[3]           Die Suchfunktion ist für die nach der Veröffentlichung des italienischen Originals erschienen Überlegungen bis 1948 (GA 97) anscheinend nicht mehr betätigt worden.