For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger

by Wolin, Richard (2016)


Martin Heidegger's ties to Nazism have tarnished his stature as one of the towering figures of twentieth-century philosophy. The publication of the Black Notebooks in 2014, which revealed the full extent of Heidegger's anti-Semitism and enduring sympathy for National Socialism, only inflamed the controversy. Richard Wolin's The Politics of Being: The Political Thought of Martin Heidegger has played a seminal role in the international debate over the consequences of Heidegger's Nazism. In this edition, the author provides a new preface addressing the effect of the Black Notebooks on our understanding of the relationship between politics and philosophy in Heidegger's work. Building on his pathbreaking interpretation of the philosopher's political thought, Wolin demonstrates that philosophy and politics cannot be disentangled in Heidegger's oeuvre. Völkisch ideological themes suffuse even his most sublime philosophical treatises. Therefore, despite Heidegger's profundity as a thinker, his critique of civilization is saturated with disturbing anti-democratic and anti-Semitic leitmotifs and claims.

Key Passage

[Extract from Heidegger's "The Rectorship 1933-34: Facts and Thoughts" (1945)]-The way I already viewed the historical situation at that time [i.e., in the early 1930s] may be indicated with a  reference. In 1930, Ernst Jiinger's essay on "Total Mobilization" appeared; in this essay the fundamental outlines of his 1932. book The Worker are articulated. In a  small group, I  discussed these writings at this time, along with my assistant [Wemer] Brock, and attempted to show how in them an essential comprehension of Nietzsche's metaphysics is expressed, insofar as the history and the contemporary situation of the West is seen and foreseen in the horizon of this metaphysics. On the basis of these writings, and even more essentially on the basis of their foundations, we reflected on what was to come, i.e., we sought thereby to confront the later in discussions. Many other persons also read these writings at that time: however, they were laid aside along with a number of other interesting texts and not comprehended in their true importance. (p.77)


Heidegger, Junger, Nietzsche, Nazism, Mobilisation, National Socialism


Heidegger Citations

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