As we noted here on foucaultblog last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education ran a slash and run piece by a guy called Carlin Romano on Heidegger. Romano’s stated goal was to ridicule and mock Heidegger:
How many scholarly stakes in the heart will we need before Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), still regarded by some as Germany’s greatest 20th-century philosopher, reaches his final resting place as a prolific, provincial Nazi hack? Overrated in his prime, bizarrely venerated by acolytes even now, the pretentious old Black Forest babbler makes one wonder whether there’s a university-press equivalent of wolfsbane, guaranteed to keep philosophical frauds at a distance.
Romano has already been called out by Slate, but now even the New Republic piles on:
this column is an intellectual disgrace, and one that the Chronicle should be ashamed for having published. I say this as someone who’s very far from being one of the “acolytes” who “bizarrely venerate” Heidegger and his ideas.
The writer here is Damon Linker, who continues:
Yet even if distinguishing between Heidegger’s philosophy and his politics were as impossible as Romano (and Faye) would have us believe, that still would not justify excluding Heidegger’s thought from serious reflection, study, and a place in the university. On the contrary, it would serve as an additional reason to wrestle with the challenge it poses.
I think I would agree with this.
However, now Slate is back with more comments from someone else who finds the Romano essay “delightfully acerbic”:
Romano’s Chronicle piece generated an often-furious comments thread, a spectacle of postmodernists in temper tantrum mode.
I can understand the splenetic attacks on Romano for not taking Heidegger seriously, although the angry Heideggerian academics never explained exactly why we should.
In general, I’m in favor of separating the man (or woman) from the work, but it was Heidegger himself, his defenders don’t seem to recognize, who claimed Nazism for his own. He didn’t make the separation between man and philosophy that they conveniently claim to excuse his personal racism.
This is by a guy called Ron Rosenbaum, who goes on to attack Hannah Arendt:
Which brings us back to Arendt again. As the extent of Heidegger’s enthusiastic embrace of Nazism becomes more apparent, and as it becomes ever clearer that the allegiance was not merely opportunistic and careerist but derived from a philosophical affinity with his Fuhrer’s effusions, it becomes impossible not to reexamine certain questions. Such as: How much did Arendt know about the depth of Heidegger’s allegiance? Did Heidegger lie to her? Did she believe him the way she believed Eichmann? Did she assume his complicity with the genocidaires was something careerist and banal? Or worse, did she know? And did she disingenuously (or self-deceptively) construct her false banal Eichmann from her false banal Heidegger?
Rosenbaum or Slate however have turned off comments so we’ll not be able to address these questions. Perhaps they got scared by the Chronicle responses.
Update. New York Times weighs in.