Blog dedicated primarily to randomly selected news items; comments reflecting personal perceptions

Monday, March 24, 2014

Biased to Bigotry

"World Judaism is ungraspable everywhere and doesn't need to get involved in military action while continuing to unfurl its influence, whereas we are left to sacrifice the best blood of the best of our people."
"World Judaism is one of the main drivers of Western modernity...[a people whose] "rootlessness" [is deplorable in their] "distance from the soil".
"Philosophy is the opposite of all comfort and assurance ... it constantly remains in the perilous neighbourhood of supreme uncertainty."
"The Fuhrer is your one and only present and future German reality and law."
Martin Heidegger, German philosopher

"Every student who really wants to deal with Heidegger will have to deal with the problem of the relation between philosophy and antisemitism".
Peter Trawny, director, Martin Heidegger Institute, University of Wuppertal
This is a man hugely respected within the philosophical community, an early 20th-Century philosopher of huge repute, a forerunner of the school of philosophy borrowing from Socrates' method of inquiry and response. Scholars of later repute took their inspiration from his thought process. One might think, logically enough, that philosophy requires a mind free from unreasoning and unreasonable bigotry, and if so, this man proved an exception.

The truth is, unfortunately, that however brilliant a mind may be in science and the humanities, it can also be corrupted and constricted by an inbred, habitual environment of deliberate discrimination against other humans on the basis of a societal affliction named antisemitism.  Martin Heidegger's thought processes producing highly regarded philosophical notes did not represent his only gift to posterity.

He indulged in furtive note-taking and opinion cogitation of the nastiest kind, blackening, in retrospect, his intellectual prowess and his philosophical legacy. He once taught Hannah Arendt, who as a young scholar of 18, under his tutelage, appears to have permitted him to become a sexual predator of her youth. One can only wonder how in retrospect she viewed that period of her young life when she later wrote her famous conclusion post-Holocaust on the "banality of evil".

She also wrote that "The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil." She was apparently pensively forgiving of her former mentor, or perhaps not, we'll never know, one supposes. Martin Heidegger was obviously exposed at an early age to antisemitism through the social and familial milieu that informed the most instructive and lasting part of his life.

For a well-educated intellectual he appears to have missed the part in history where European Jews were constrained by edict and law from owning land, let alone farming. Very few professions other than money lending remained available to them. They were hounded, harassed, persecuted, suffered ongoing pogroms, and yet managed to survive. That they did survive appears to have been a matter of great offence to the great philosopher.

He wrote the thoughts of antisemitism that flooded his awareness in books with black covers. They were named the Black Notebooks. He left instructions that they were not to be made public after his death until all his other writing had seen publication. Shortly after Adolf Hitler assumed power in Germany, Heidegger saw fit to join the Nazi party, to proudly wear the swastika emblem of fascism, and he became rector of Freiburg University.

At no time did he ever utter a public acknowledgement of the horrors that were unleashed on the world by the regime he had so proudly endorsed. Jacques Derrida, whom former Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau loved to quote, based his career on insights gleaned from Heidegger's writing. His argument in defence of the man he so hugely respected was that the man's life and his philosophy should be viewed and acknowledged separately.

Much as we tend in these days of liberal understanding to forgive the trespasses on human rights and obligations of yesteryear with the forgiving comment that those represented the temper [tempest] of the times. After his death in 1976 it became possible to publish the contents of his Black Notebooks, and now they are in print with the revelation that central to his thinking was antisemitism. What credence can be placed in his rational intelligence, contaminated with that corrosive spirit?

He makes reference to the "talent for calculation" of the Jews, which the great William Shakespeare himself alluded to in more majestic prose while leaving doubt whether he was expressing his personal views or was merely reflecting the tenor of the times. He wrote of the "collusion of rootless Jews in both international capitalism and communism." They appear reflective in nature of the calumnies present in the notorious Protocols of the Elders of Zion; the fictional maunderings of a Jewish conspiracy for the attainment of world dominance.

He wrote, in early 1940, of the responsibility of the Jews for the outbreak of the Second World War. Perhaps influencing Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the production of his doctoral thesis at a Soviet university (Patrice Lamumba) questioning the Holocaust, and suggesting that Zionists were in league with Hitler, taking a hand in planning the mass execution of European Jews. 

Capitalism and Industrialization he thought, caused the "oblivion of Being".

Faulting the Jews for all of that. Under the Nazis, he dreamed, Germany could achieve "inner truth and greatness" by challenging technology (a Luddite?). The first industrial/technological challenge presented to Germany and which it overcame was the methodology by which millions of innocent human beings could be penned up, worked to death, gassed in mass chambers, and their remains incinerated so the soot it generated might benefit agriculture in enriching its soil.

The breadth and extent of his contempt for an ethnic-religious mass of people with historical antecedents of great influence, whose people represented courage, intelligence and enterprise beyond the norm, and whose cerebral elite has been recognized by Nobel Prize awards far outstripping any other ethnic group, is mind-gripping in its focus and unrelenting hatred.
Herr Rektor Heidegger
Said to his students
To Being be True
Lest you should fall into 
This I believe --
And the Fuhrer does too!
Can it be possible that his deeply splenetic unreasoning hatred can still be set aside so that credence can still be recognized in his philosophy?

Can it be compared to the experiments that Nazi doctors conducted on concentration camp inmates leading to horrible suffering and death, but so carefully recorded for medical posterity; viewed with great scientific curiosity for the revelations that came out of those experiments using helpless humans as experimental living models whose pain and anguish could be ignored because of their purported sub-human status.

The published results of both immense scientific appeal and tremendous human disgust...

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