For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Heidegger controversy: A critical reader

by Heidegger, Martin; Wolin, Richard (1992)


This anthology is a significant contribution to the debate over the relevance of Martin Heidegger's Nazi ties to the interpretation and evaluation of his philosophical work. Included are a selection of basic documents by Heidegger, essays and letters by Heidegger's colleagues that offer contemporary context and testimony, and interpretive evaluations by Heidegger's heirs and critics in France and Germany.In his new introduction, "Note on a Missing Text," Richard Wolin uses the absence from this edition of an interview with Jacques Derrida as a springboard for examining questions about the nature of authorship and personal responsibility that are at the heart of the book.Richard Wolin is Professor of Modern European Intellectual History and Humanities at Rice University. He is the author of Walter Benjamin, The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger, and The Terms of Cultural Criticism: The Frankfurt School, Existentialism and Poststructuralism.

Key Passage

[Extract from: "The Self-Assertion of the German University" ("Die Selbstbehauptung der deutschen Universitlit") by Martin Heidegger first appeared in 1933 with Kom Verlag in Breslau. lt Was republished in 1983 by Klostermann Verlag in Frankfun.]-If we will the essence of science in the sense of the questioning, unsheltered standing firm in the midst of the uncertainty of the totality of being, then this will to essence will create for our Volk a world of the innermost and most extreme danger, i.e., a  truly spiritual world. For "spirit" is neither empty acumen nor the noncommittal play of wit nor the busy practice of never-ending rational analysis nor even world rea-son; rather, spirit is the determined resolve to the essence of Being, a resolve that is attuned to origins and knowing. And the spiritual world of a Volk is not its cultural superstructure, just as little as it is its arsenal of useful knowledge [Kenntnisse] and values; rather, it is the power that comes from preserving at the most profound level the forces that are rooted in the soil and blood of a  Volk, the power to arouse most inwardly and to shake most extensively the Volk's existence. A spiritual world alone will guarantee our Volk greatness. For it  will make the constant decision between the will to greatness and the toleration of decline the law that establishes the pace for the march upon which our Volk has embarked on the way to its future history. If we will this essence of science, then the teachers of the university must really advance to the outermost positions where they will be ex-posed to the danger of the world's constant uncertainty. lf they stand firm there, i.e., if &om there-in essential proximity to and beset by all things-there arises for them a  common questioning and saying per-vaded with a sense of community, then they will become strong enough to lead. For what is  decisive in leading is not merely going ahead, but the strength to go alone, not out of obstinacy and the desire to dominate, but by virtue of the most profound destiny and the broadest obligations. Such strength binds to what is essential; it  effects the selection of the best, and it awakens the genuine following [Gefolgschaft] of those who are of new courage [neuen Mutes]. But we do not need to first awaken such a  following. The German students are on the march. And whom they are seeking, that is those leaders through whom they intend to elevate their own destiny to a  grounded, knowing truth and to place it in the clarity of the interpreting-effective word and deed [deutend-wir-kenden Wortes und Werkes]. (p.33)


Heidegger, Germany, National Socialism, Nazi, Twentieth Century, National Socialist Education, Academia, Duty, Work Creation, Service


The Self-Assertion of the German University [1933], Heidegger Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.