Martin Heidegger’s Thought Is Inextricable from His Embrace of Nazism

Every few decades, writes Adam Kirsch, the fact that Martin Heidegger was enthusiastic about Nazism—and not just “an unworldly man who briefly blundered into it”—seems to be rediscovered, and promptly forgotten again. The latest rediscovery has come with the publication of the philosopher’s Black Notebooks, now partially available in English, as well as a volume of scholarly essays about them. Based on the former, Kirsch expounds on the connection between Heidegger’s rejection of ethics and his embrace of the Third Reich:

Of course, Heidegger’s thought does not lead directly to fascism. . . . But in an important sense, Heidegger leaves the door open for fascism, because he values the intensity and authenticity of a belief over its goodness or truthfulness. In a world defined by nihilism, any source of strong new beliefs and convictions is potentially redemptive. That is why, in the early days of the Hitler dictatorship, Heidegger could take the new Nazi regime as a potential source of new values—an assertion of will that would create an entirely new spiritual and philosophical world.

Nonetheless, admirers of Heidegger persist in finding reasons to ignore his inconvenient beliefs. Now that the Black Notebooks, which contain explicit references to Jews, make his anti-Semitism undeniable, apologists assert, correctly, that Heidegger disavowed any condemnation of Jews based on their biological race:

But this is hardly exculpatory. On the contrary, [Heidegger’s comments on Jews] bring anti-Semitism into the central precincts of his thought. For Heidegger, the “uprooting of beings from Being,” [which he blames on the Jews], was the metaphysical curse of the modern world, the source of the nihilism that afflicted humanity. . . .

Heidegger is a writer who cultivates a mystique of complexity; this is part of what attracted me to him because it makes reading him feel like an arduous quest that promises high rewards. And it is quite true that with such a subtle and profound thinker, Nazism and anti-Semitism will take subtle and “profound” forms. But this does not mean that our judgment on them is not, in the end, simple. The most important thing we have to learn from Heidegger today is how the allure of profundity and authenticity can lead to the destruction of ethics and of thought itself.

Read more at Tablet

More about: Anti-Semitism, History & Ideas, Martin Heidegger, Nazism, Philosophy

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy