An indication of Being – Reflections on Heidegger’s Engagement with Ernst Jünger

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In the thirties, Martin Heidegger was heavily involved with the work of Ernst Jünger (1895-1998). He says that he is indebted to Jünger for the ‘enduring stimulus’ provided by his descriptions. The question is: what exactly could this enduring stimulus be? Several interpreters have examined this question, but the recent publication of lectures and annotations of the thirties allow us to follow Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger more precisely. According to Heidegger, the main theme of his philosophical thinking in the thirties was the overcoming of the metaphysics of the will to power. But whereas he seems to be quite revolutionary in heralding ‘another beginning’ of philosophy in the beginning of the thirties, he later on realized that his own revolutionary vocabulary was itself influenced by the will to power. In his later work, one of the main issues is the releasement from the wilful way of philosophical thinking. My hypothesis is that Jünger has this importance for Heidegger in the thirties, because the confrontation with Jünger’s way of thinking showed him that the other beginning of philosophy presupposes the irrevocable releasement of willing and a gelassen or non-willing way of philosophical thinking. In this article, we test this hypothesis in relation to the recently published lectures, annotations and unpublished notes from the thirties. After a brief explanation of Jünger’s diagnosis of modernity (§1), we consider Heidegger’s reception of the work of Jünger in the thirties (§2). He not only sees that Jünger belongs to Nietzsche’s metaphysics of the will to power, but also shows the modern-metaphysical character of Jünger’s way of thinking. In section three, we focus on Heidegger’s confrontation with Jünger in relation to the consummation of modernity. According to Heidegger, Jünger is not only the end of modern metaphysics, but also the perishing (Verendung) of this end, the oblivion of this end in the will to power of representation. In section four, we focus on the real controversy between Jünger and Heidegger: the releasement of willing and the necessity of a radical other beginning of philosophical thinking.
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Archival date: 2012-03-26
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