Naming Being – or the philosophical Content of Heidegger’s National Socialism

Heidegger Studies 28:101-122 (2012)
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This contribution discusses the philosophical meaning of the Martin Heidegger’s Rectoral address. First of all, Heidegger’s philosophical basic experience is sketched as the background of his Rectoral address; the being-historical concept of “Anfang”. Then, the philosophical question of the Rectoral address is discussed. It is shown, that Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universität is asking for the identity of human being there (Dasein) in connection with the question about dem Eigenen (the Germans) and dem Fremden (the Greeks). This opposition structuralizes the confrontation with the beginning of philosophical thinking in the Rectoral address. When read against the philosophical background sustaining the Rectoral address, words appearing therein such as “Kampf”, “Macht”, “Volk” and “Marsch” have nothing in common with the same words as used by the Nazis. It is shown that the Rectoral address is an extremely ambiguous text, because it claims a transformation of human being there (Dasein). Although Heidegger’s view on National Socialism is distinguished from Nazis ideology, it is clear that he made a mistake about Hitler. This article makes clear how Heidegger later changed his mind and vocabulary, and in what way this kind of mistakes and changes of mind are inherent to philosophical empiricism.

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Vincent Blok
Wageningen University and Research


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