The long-simmering debate over Martin Heidegger’s legitimacy in the pantheon of modern philosophers is getting renewed attention with the imminent translation into English of a book arguing that Heidegger’s Nazi Party membership should discredit his entire body of work. Emmanuel Faye’s Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy, published in French four years ago, “calls on philosophy professors to treat Heidegger’s writings like hate speech,” writes Patricia Cohen today in the New York Times. “Libraries, too, should stop classifying Heidegger’s collected works (which have been sanitized and abridged by his family) as philosophy and instead include them under the history of Nazism,” Cohen notes the book argues. Faye’s approach is the most radical yet toward stripping Heidegger of his towering stature in modern thought and culture, Cohen writes; his influence extends to disciplines beyond philosophy, including psychoanalysis, poetry, and architecture. Faye’s opponents recognize the difficulty of considering Heidegger’s oeuvre without acknowledging the genocidal machine of which he was a part, but don’t believe that his Nazi sympathies underlie or undermine all of his works. Faye’s supporters, on the other hand, say Heidegger’s toxicity is so thorough, it infects everything, even the way we read the esteemed Jewish thinker Hannah Arendt, who was Heidegger’s protégé and lover, and who worked to help him restore his reputation after the war.
An Ethical Question: Does a Nazi Deserve a Place Among Philosophers? [NYT]
Related: Hot for Teacher [Tablet]