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Martin Heidegger Saved My Life

2015
Author:

Grant Farred

Martin Heidegger Saved My Life

Could there be a bigger paradox than the black man using Martin Heidegger to repel the white woman's racism?

In Martin Heidegger Saved My Life, Grant Farred combines autobiography with philosophical rumination to offer this unusual meditation on American racism. Farred grapples with why it is that Heidegger—well known as a Nazi—resonates so deeply with him during a strange encounter instead of other, more predictable figures such as Malcolm X, W. E. B. DuBois, or Frantz Fanon.

In Martin Heidegger Saved My Life, Grant Farred combines autobiography with philosophical rumination to offer this unusual meditation on American racism. In the fall of 2013 while raking leaves outside his home, Farred experienced a racist encounter: a white woman stopped to ask him, “Would you like another job?” Farred responded, “Only if you can match my Cornell faculty salary.” The moment, however, stuck with him. The black man had gravitated to, of all people, Martin Heidegger, specifically Heidegger’s pronouncement, “Only when man speaks, does he think—and not the other way around,” in order to unpack this encounter.

In this essay, Farred grapples with why it is that Heidegger—well known as a Nazi—resonates so deeply with him during this encounter instead of other, more predictable figures such as Malcolm X, W. E. B. DuBois, or Frantz Fanon.

Forerunners is a thought-in-process series of breakthrough digital works. Written between fresh ideas and finished books, Forerunners draws on scholarly work initiated in notable blogs, social media, conference plenaries, journal articles, and the synergy of academic exchange. This is gray literature publishing: where intense thinking, change, and speculation take place in scholarship.

Martin Heidegger Saved My Life

Grant Farred teaches at Cornell University. He is the author of several books, including What’s My Name? Black Vernacular Intellectuals (Minnesota, 2003) and In Motion, At Rest: The Event of the Athletic Body (Minnesota, 2014).

Martin Heidegger Saved My Life

UMP blog: Living with the ghost of Martin Heidegger

My attraction to Heidegger (which is always complicated by Heidegger’s past, by what he did as much as what he did not do) is easily explained: more than anyone else, Martin Heidegger makes me think.