2 - Being and Time: positive implication critiques  pp. 52-78

<i>Being and Time:</i> positive implication critiques

By Julian Young

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The previous chapter confirmed the widely held conviction that there is something fundamentally unacceptable in the character of Heidegger's political commitment of 1933. Even on the most sympathetic reading, I suggested, central elements of his political ideology place it outside the limits of the Western politico-ethical tradition. These elements can be embraced, we saw, by one word: ‘totalitarianism’ (but not ‘anti-Semitism’). What this establishes is that should Heidegger's philosophy turn out to be implicated in his ideology – should it turn out, more specifically, to be implicated in the indisputably unacceptable aspects of that ideology – then some or all of that philosophy, itself, is open to serious, perhaps fatal, criticism. Is the philosophy so implicated?

In this and the next chapter I shall attempt to answer this question in so far as it concerns Heidegger's early philosophy: in so far, specifically, as it concerns the crowning and defining expression of that philosophy, Being and Time.

Many attempts have been made to connect Being and Time (which appeared in 1927) to Heidegger's Nazism, and many varieties of implication have been proposed. One very commonly deployed notion of connectedness is that of causal responsibility. Many critics, that is, have sought to demonstrate that in Being and Time Heidegger worked out a philosophy which demanded a certain kind of political order, and that subsequently, discovering the essential elements of that order to be embodied in Nazism, he joined the Party.