Image: Goethe-Institut Wyoming Building, East Village, New York.
In the second week of April, 2014, the Goethe-Institut, New York, hosted a panel on Heidegger and Nazism. The ideas editor of newyorker.com, Joshua Rothman, attended and on 28.4.14. published his thoughts.
The title of this post takes the words he used to describe the demeanour of Peter Trawny, director of the Martin Heidegger Institute at the University of Wuppertal, in Germany, and the editor of Heidegger’s “black notebooks,” some of which were published for the first time in spring 2014. “(Heidegger wrote in the small, black-covered notebooks for nearly forty years—publishing them all could take decades.)”
“…at the front sat the panelists: Trawny, along with two American professors of philosophy, Roger Berkowitz and Babette Babich, from Bard and Fordham, respectively.”
Rothman observes earlier in his article:
“Philosophy has a math-like quality: it’s not just a vocabulary, but a system. A failure in one part of the system can suggest a failure everywhere. And so, earlier this year, in a book called Heidegger and the Myth of Jewish World Conspiracy, Trawny asked the inevitable question: could Heidegger’s philosophy as a whole be “contaminated” by Nazism?”
He goes on to note:
“In 1935, (Heidegger) spoke about “the inner truth and greatness” of National Socialism. He was not a doctrinaire Nazi: one of his students recalled that, when the party instituted a series of compulsory political education lectures, Heidegger shooed a student making a party-line speech off the stage (“This jabber will stop immediately!,” he’s said to have shouted) and replaced him with a speaker who talked about Sigmund Freud.”
Rothman’s article closes with words from Peter Trawny:
” “The problem is not just that I’m morally shocked—it’s also a problem that he is so dumb,” Trawny said, as the evening drew to a close. “Observe what he is writing there. You see that, like all the others, he was not better. You thought it, actually; for long years, you thought he was very clever, but he is not. This is something that requires a certain distance,” he concluded. “You shouldn’t be too much in love with what you are reading, or you will be disappointed, like always.” “