The Philosophical Salon: Heidegger's Eternal Triangle

By Michael Marder
The Philosophical Salon, a Los Angeles Review of Books channel

Heidegger (Michael Marder)It would not be an exaggeration to say that Martin Heidegger was the most controversial philosopher of the twentieth century. A polarizing figure, he had, beyond a shadow of doubt, influenced generations of intellectuals who have since become canonical in their own right, from Hannah Arendt to Jacques Derrida. Most recently, however, the publication of Black Notebooks has spawned further negative reactions to Heidegger’s body of work, with some contemporary philosophers, many among them former card-carrying Heideggerians, willing to discard his contributions in toto on account of his involvement with Nazism and the blatantly anti-Semitic statements peppering these personal-intellectual diaries. The sentiment among the liberal critics of Heidegger is the most uncompromising, as they insist that his practical political stance in the 1930s hopelessly taints his philosophy and blocks any promising ecological potential that may reside in it. They see in Black Notebooks the last nail in the coffin of the German philosopher’s intellectual legacy, to be shelved, at best, with studies in the intellectual history of twentieth-century totalitarianism.