Thursday, April 17, 2008

Malpas on Heidegger and Nazism

I'm beginning to go through Jeff Malpas' Heidegger's Topology: Being, Place, World and just barely got to his section on Heidegger and National Socialism. He makes an interesting point about the notion of place in Heidegger's thought and when it took prominence, decidedly after his fiasco with Nazism. Here's an extended quote:
Thus the addresses from the early 1930s in which Heidegger seems to align himself with elements of Nazi ideology combine the vocabulary of Being and Time with ideas and images also present in Nazi rhetoric, including notions of "Volk" and of "Blut und Boden," but they do not deploy any developed notions of place or dwelling as such (and the distinction is an important one, both within Heidegger's own thinking and within thought, politics, and culture more generally). Talk of "Blut und Boden" seems to feature in Heidegger's vocabulary in only a few places, and although the notion of "Volk" does have a greater persistence and significance, it too is almost entirely absent from Heidegger's postwar thought. Significantly, it is in his engagement with Hölderlin, immediately after his resignation of the rectorate, in 1934-1935, that ideas of place and dwelling begin to emerge more explicitly (though still in a relatively undeveloped form) as a focus for Heidegger's thinking. Moreover, the influence of Heidegger on contemporary thinking about place does not stem from the work in the 1920s and early 1930s, but rather from that of the middle to late 1930s and, especially, of the period from 1945 onwards, particularly essays such as "Building Dwelling Thinking." In this respect, the strategy that appears in Harvey, Massey, and Leach [which he just analyzed] seems to be one that attempts to discredit ideas explicit in the later thinking largely on the basis of the political engagement apparently present in the earlier. (20)
I will admit, the question of Heidegger's relation with Nazi ideology is not a topic that interests me, so I am not someone who can speak about the issue in an informed way. However, the above does seem to present a decent case for how to distinguish Heidegger's thought on place from Nazi ideology by situating the former in Heidegger's developed interest in Hölderlin in his post-Nazi period.

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Anonymous phibl√≥gsopho said...

Steven Galt Crowell, who has co-edited with Malpas Transcendental Heidegger, has rendered a phenomenological account of Heidegger's rectoral address. See his Husserl, Heidegger and the Space of Meaning.

11:06 AM  

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