Martin Heidegger is sometimes thought to be one of the most influential philosophers of the 20th century – and a critical figure in the foundation of existentialism.
He was also a Nazi.
For decades, his defenders have contended that he was a major philosopher, but only a minor Nazi – a member of the party for only a year, and an unwilling accomplice.
But what if that isn’t true?
But more than Heidegger the person, they’re suggesting that Heidegger the philosopher is also suspect.
“Drawing on new evidence, the author, Emmanuel Faye, argues fascist and racist ideas are so woven into the fabric of Heidegger’s theories that they no longer deserve to be called philosophy,” Patricia Cohen writes in the New York Times. “As a result Mr. Faye declares, Heidegger’s works and the many fields built on them need to be re-examined lest they spread sinister ideas as dangerous to modern thought as ‘the Nazi movement was to the physical existence of the exterminated peoples.”’
Intellectually speaking, those are fighting words – and the issue is one with which some Saybrook community members, as students and practitioners of existential psychology, are grappling.