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.]-The German student's notion of freedom is now being returned to its truth. Our of this freedom will develop for German students certain bonds and forms of service. The first bond is the one that binds to the ethnic and national community [Volksgemeinschaft]. It entails the obligation to share fully, both passively and actively, in the roil, the striving, and the abilities of all estates and members of the Volk. This bond will henceforth be secured and rooted in student existence [Dasein] through labor service.The second bond is the one that binds to the honor and the destiny of the nation in the midst of the other peoples of the world. lt demands the readiness, secured in knowledge and ability and firmed up through discipline, to give one's utmost. This bond will in the future embrace and pervade all of student existence in the form of military service.The third bond is the one that binds the students to the spiritual mission of the German Volk. This Volk is playing an active role i  n shaping its fate by placing its history into the openness of the overpower-ing might of all the world-shaping forces of human existence and by struggling ever anew to secure its spiritual world. Thus exposed to the extreme questionableness of its own existence, this Volk has the will to be a spiritual Volk. It demands of itself and for itself, and of its leaders and guardians, the hardest clarity that comes &om the highest, broadest, and richest knowledge. Young students, who are venturing early into manhood and spreading their will over the destiny of the nation, are compelling themselves, thoroughly, to serve this knowledge. They will no longer permit knowledge service to be the dull, quick training for an "elegant" profession. Because the statesman and the teacher, the doctor and the judge, the pastor and the master builder lead the Volk in its existence as a  Volk and a  state and watch over this existence in its essential relations to the world-shaping forces of human Being and keep it focused, these professions and the education for them are entrusted to the knowledge service. Knowledge does not serve the professions, but the other way around: the professions realize and administer the Volk's highest and most essential knowledge, that of its entire existence. But for us this knowledge is nor the calm raking note of essences and values in themselves; rather, it is the placing of one's existence in the most acute danger in the midst of overpowering Being. The questionableness of Being in general compels the Volk to work and struggle and forces it into its state, to which the professions belong. -[Footnote from page 35: Translator's note: Volksgemeinschaft was the National Socialist expression for the "national community," that is, a new, organic, communal social order bereft of the divisions and antagonisms of modem "society."] (p.34)


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

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