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[Xmca-l] Re: Heidegger's Notebooks Renew Focus on Anti-Semitism - NYTimes.com



I think that Paul's comment (on the equivalence of white racist
writings and anti-semitic ones) is highly a propos, but perhaps not
the way he thinks it is. As we can see from the very length and
richness of this thread, no one is proposing a ban on Heidegger's
work. What we are discussing, as I understand it, is how that work
should be read--the preliminary answer is "with extreme
difficulty"--and if it is worth the effort at all.

Adorno warned us! He thought Heidegger's philosophy was based on an
ideology rather similar to the recent remake of "Noah" that is now in
your local cinema (that is, cities are very very bad places full of
very very bad people and they should probably all be wiped out and
replaced by an alliance of well-spaced subistence farmers and nomadic
professors of philosophy). So too with what white racists have to say
about their own racism. For the most part, it seems to me about as
rewarding as phlogiston theory or Ptolemaic models of the solar
system. They are all interesting demonstrations of the lengths of
silliness to be found in the shallows of a self-convinced mind and
they have literally nothing to tell us about the world we live in.

A couple of years ago, Andy wrote about why Marx did not join the
French atheists in their hortatory critiques of religion; Andy did not
mention, but he certainly could have, that there was far more truth in
a devoutly religious man like John Brown than in the whole of the
atheistic and supposedly materialistic oeuvre of Spencer, Gobineau,
Galton, etc. When the nineteenth century "materialists" began to apply
Darwinism to humans, just about everything they came up with was
proto-Nazi drivel, in many ways diametrically opposite to the eventual
conclusions of materialist science (so, for example, "miscegenation"
turns out to be a very positive force in eugenics, and the whole
concept of race really has no biological foundation at all).

Last night I re-read Hannah Arendt's "Eichmann in Jerusalem" and I was
surprised to find how much is journalism and how little is philosophy.
On the one hand, Arendt really does want to make the case that evil is
banal--not in its effects, to be sure, but in its triteness, commoness
and superficiality. Like Kant, Arendt believes that only good is
genuinely deep and rich, and evil is simply the normal state of human
blitheness about thinking. So just as Bateson argues that the reason
why my office requires effort to remain tidy and seems to get untidy
all by itself is simply that there are many more ways of being untidy
than there are of being tidy, there are many more ways of being evil
than there are of being morally good. That is simply the obvious
consequence of living in proximity to large numbers of other people
(which is, contrary to what Heidegger believes, a positive good). On
the other hand, there is a real contradiction n her own thinking that
she hides from in the mountains of detail she had to glean from the
English translation of the trial transcripts in order to fill the
pages of the New Yorker.

Judith Butler has remarked that according to Arendt, Eichmann's main
crime is a refusal to think.  If Arendt is right, it would appear that
human decency is a luxury to be enjoyed exclusively by professors of
philosophy. But Margarete von Trotta, who made the film that Peter
alludes to, remarks that this conclusion doesn't seem to have served
her very well in her relations with Heidegger. Arendt seems to have
concluded that since he could hardly be said to be a banal
non-thinker, he must not really be evil. So Arendt underestimated the
number of ways one can be evil after all.

What seems more likely is the more obvious--even banal--conclusion:
Eichmann's crime--and Heidegger's too--was made possible by a refusal
to feel. Emotion is not a sufficient condition for higher ethical
concepts, but it is certainly a necessary one; that's why, on the
question of white racism, the "scientific" apologists for white racism
lie a-mouldering in the grave, but John Brown's truth keeps marching
on.

David Kellogg
Hankuk University of Foreign Studies



On 1 April 2014 05:21, Greg Thompson <greg.a.thompson@gmail.com> wrote:
> Michael, you wrote:
> "the danger is not when philosophers might become monsters, but when
> professors become simple bureaucrats"
>
> Very Arendt-ian Micheal! As in Arendt's "banality of evil".
>
> I thought you might appreciate Richard Shweder's flipping of Arendt's
> phrase to "the evil of banality". He writes "Courage (and other high
> motives) are in short supply these days. Perhaps they always were, still
> there remains a "demonic profundity" to the absence of heroism in the
> contemporary world. It is a devilish world when mundane (and hence popular)
> motives can lead human beings so astray."
>
> And his advice to students (this was part of Aims of Education Address to
> incoming University of Chicago students): "Do not forget to remind those of
> us with too great a stake in mundane things that there is "evil in
> banality" and in bureaucratic motivations. Keep us alert. Engage the issues
> of the day."
>
> Here is the full talk (point three is where he speaks of Arendt):
> http://aims.uchicago.edu/page/1993-richard-shweder
>
> Here to hoping that we might keep each other alert to the evil of banality!
> -greg
>
>
>
>
> On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 12:31 PM, Glassman, Michael <glassman.13@osu.edu>wrote:
>
>> I have been following the discussion on Heidegger with interest.  Last
>> week I was teaching on Hannah Arrendt's ideas of education, trying to tie
>> back her unique views both to her relationship with Heidegger and to her
>> observations at the Eichman trial.  On a student's recommendation I am
>> watching the move "Hannah Arrendt" which is very good if you have the time.
>>  One of the ideas it brings up is that perhaps we have it wrong when
>> considering Heidegger some kind of personal monster (and I have never
>> enjoyed Heidegger as a philosopher so I have no dog in this fight).
>>  Perhaps instead Heidegger was a very weak man who loved his position as a
>> professor and rector and did not want to jeopardize it in any way.  To
>> maintain his position he had to see Jews as less than human.  He could not
>> bear to think of himself as a person who would destroy others for the sake
>> of his career so he rationalized his hatred with some of the ideas found in
>> the black notebook.  This is not to excuse Heidegger in any way, but to
>> bring him closer to the everyday life we lead - do we know people,
>> professors who would engage in the same type of rationalization, perhaps
>> with a socially safer topic, but also destructive to the victims of the
>> powerful.
>>
>> Paul's point really resonated with me.  We treat Oliver Wendell Holmes as
>> if he was some grand jurist, just a step below founding father.  And yet he
>> was an extreme eugenicist, and I believe some of his views were destructive
>> to African Americans and other populations as Heidegger's were to the Jews.
>>  Are we allowed to even denounce Holmes?  Have his personal opinions been
>> whitewashed by history?  Why?
>>
>> I can also see the other side I guess.  I know the debates surrounding
>> Paul de Mann a bit better.  He was a Nazi collaborator (I know, ironic when
>> considering other current threads).  Was he just a person looking to
>> maintain his position.  But then Satre's arguments ring true - each person
>> must be held responsible for his own choices from moment to moment because
>> in many ways there is nothing else.
>>
>> Complex problems I suppose.  But back to the beginning, the danger is not
>> when philosophers might become monsters, but when professors become simple
>> bureaucrats.
>>
>> Michael
>> ________________________________________
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu]
>> on behalf of Peter Smagorinsky [smago@uga.edu]
>> Sent: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:59 PM
>> To: eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Heidegger's Notebooks Renew Focus on Anti-Semitism -
>>      NYTimes.com
>>
>> I can't recommend too highly Snyder's Bloodlands: Europe between Hitler
>> and Stalin, for a spectacularly detailed and compelling account of this
>> process.
>>
>> -----Original Message-----
>> From: xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu [mailto:
>> xmca-l-bounces@mailman.ucsd.edu] On Behalf Of David Preiss
>> Sent: Monday, March 31, 2014 1:37 PM
>> To: lchcmike@gmail.com; eXtended Mind, Culture, Activity
>> Subject: [Xmca-l] Re: Heidegger's Notebooks Renew Focus on Anti-Semitism -
>> NYTimes.com
>>
>> That's an interesting question. The protocols of the elders of Zion, the
>> antisemitic libel, was first published in Russia and then extensively used
>> by Hitler. Umberto Eco writes a fantastic fictional account of the origin
>> of the Protocols in his last novel, The Prague Cemetery. If anything, the
>> novel shows that XXth century antisemitism crystallises many cultural
>> threads and that many influences were reciprocal. Afterwards, during the
>> Soviet era, antisemitism should be understood as a part of the mechanics of
>> Stalinism. Specially iconic are the events associated to the so-called
>> doctor's plot (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Doctors%27_plot) and the
>> so-called night of the murdered poets (
>> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Night_of_the_Murdered_Poets)
>>
>> On Mar 31, 2014, at 2:17 PM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>>
>> > What a tortured and tangled history with both Kant and Hegel in it.
>> > In my personal experience, anti-semitism in Russia was more intense
>> > than any I had previously encountered in the U.S. Does the influence
>> > of German philosophy and psychology on Russian thought which has often
>> > been discussed on xlchc/xmca link up with anti-semitism in the two
>> > countries in the same way?
>> >
>> > For those who were mystified by my reference to *Jew Suss* the
>> > wikipedia entry provides relevant background. The story begins with a
>> > novel by an anti-fascist writer which is then inverted in a fascist
>> > film. I liked the novel at the time I read it many decades ago.
>> >
>> > mike
>> >
>> >
>> > On Mon, Mar 31, 2014 at 9:52 AM, rjsp2 <r.j.s.parsons@open.ac.uk> wrote:
>> >
>> >> Joris's translation is available at
>> >> http://www.pierrejoris.com/blog/?p=317
>> >>
>> >> and there is more at the Wikipedia page on Celan:
>> >> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paul_Celan  which I just edited to
>> >> provide the right link to Joris's blog. (This is work avoidance, you
>> >> will realise.)
>> >>
>> >> Rob
>> >>
>> >>
>> >> On 31/03/2014 16:34, David Preiss wrote:
>> >>
>> >>> Hi Mike,
>> >>> I yet don't know whether addressing the issue from the point of view
>> >>> of Heidegger's writings is relevant. I am aware that for many people
>> >>> in the philosophy departments what is attractive as a scholarly
>> >>> activity is to elucidate whether his philosophy has substantive
>> >>> connections with a Nazi worldview. I can understand why is
>> >>> interesting to them. And, yet, I doubt that the masses adhering to
>> >>> nazism got it from reading Heidegger or other philosophers as the
>> >>> nazism of the german populace was quite basic and quite naturalized.
>> >>>
>> >>> What I think is the real problem is how to judge the actions of
>> >>> intellectuals during times where the worst side of humanity takes
>> >>> center stage. Thus, I think that Heidegger has to be judged
>> >>> according to what he did, what he publicly said as regards the
>> >>> Holocaust (before, during and after). And we don't need to read the
>> >>> black notebooks to learn that his moral stature is not compatible
>> >>> with the sensitivity he shows in some of his writings.
>> >>>
>> >>> Alas, poor Celan, whom expected something different from him until
>> >>> the
>> >>> end:
>> >>> http://wings.buffalo.edu/epc/authors/joris/todtnauberg.html
>> >>>
>> >>> David
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>>
>> >>> On Mar 31, 2014, at 2:18 AM, mike cole <lchcmike@gmail.com> wrote:
>> >>>
>> >>> Among the many things to read, that was an interesting summary of
>> >>> the
>> >>>> black
>> >>>> notebooks, David.
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Am i correct in interpreting the link between heidegger and
>> >>>> anti-semitism t, according to this account, to run through the sin
>> >>>> of rationalism and its epitome in mathematics as "calculation"
>> >>>> presumably linking rationalism and money lending, and hence the
>> >>>> historical steretotype as in *Jew Suss*?
>> >>>> Or is that too simple?
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Is the anti-semitism endemic to the philosophy or contingent
>> >>>> invasion of a historical German cultural narrative?
>> >>>>
>> >>>> (signed)
>> >>>> The blind man with a stick
>> >>>> mike
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>>
>> >>>> On Sun, Mar 30, 2014 at 7:47 PM, David Kellogg
>> >>>> <dkellogg60@gmail.com>
>> >>>> wrote:
>> >>>>
>> >>>> Martin:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> I've only seen short extracts from the "Black Notebooks", but what
>> >>>>> I've seen suggests that the real problem is not time but precisely
>> >>>>> the problem of "worlding" which was mentioned earlier.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> Jews, according to the "Black Notebooks", are an "unworlded"
>> >>>>> people, and because of that they are necessarily parasitic upon
>> >>>>> peoples who are deeply and profoundly in the world, i.e. his truly.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/books/heideggers-
>> >>>>> notebooks-renew-focus-on-anti-semitism.html?_r=0
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> It's a big world, and there are lots of other things to read. They
>> >>>>> are only short extracts, but they are more than enough.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> David Kellogg
>> >>>>> Hankuk University of Foreign Studies
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>> On 31 March 2014 10:02, Martin John Packer
>> >>>>> <mpacker@uniandes.edu.co>
>> >>>>> wrote:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> Hi David,
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Yes, this always the problem with Heidegger: his appalling
>> >>>>>> politics,
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>> both professional and personal.  However, the conceptual problem
>> >>>>> he was working on was also important to philosophers with very
>> >>>>> different politics.
>> >>>>> For example, Lucien Goldmann found parallels between Heidegger and
>> >>>>> Lukacs (ref below). I find it helpful to (try to) understand what
>> >>>>> Heidegger was trying to do, and also understand how a philosopher
>> >>>>> of human existence was unable to prevent himself from becoming a
>> >>>>> very unpleasant human being.
>> >>>>> (The
>> >>>>> problem lies in his treatment of time, in my view.)
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> Martin
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> Goldmann, L. (1979). Lukacs and Heidegger: Towards a new philosophy.
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>> Routledge and Kegan Paul.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>> On Mar 30, 2014, at 7:10 PM, David Preiss
>> >>>>>> <daviddpreiss@gmail.com>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>> wrote:
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> As an aside to the ongoing references to Heidegger... May be of
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>> interest or not.
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> DP
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> mobile.nytimes.com/2014/03/31/books/heideggers-notebooks-
>> >>>>> renew-focus-on-anti-semitism.html?referrer=
>> >>>>>
>> >>>>>> Descarga la aplicación oficial de Twitter aquí
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>> Enviado desde mi iPhone
>> >>>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>>
>> >>>>>
>> >>>
>> >> -- The Open University is incorporated by Royal Charter (RC 000391),
>> >> an exempt charity in England & Wales and a charity registered in
>> >> Scotland (SC 038302).
>> >>
>> >>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>>
>
>
> --
> Gregory A. Thompson, Ph.D.
> Assistant Professor
> Department of Anthropology
> 883 Spencer W. Kimball Tower
> Brigham Young University
> Provo, UT 84602
> http://byu.academia.edu/GregoryThompson

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