Martin Heidegger

German philosopher (1889–1976)
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Martin Heidegger (26 September 188926 May 1976) was a German philosopher. His book Being and Time (1927) is widely regarded as one of the most important philosophy texts of the 20th Century, but Heidegger's involvement with the Nazis has led to much controversy and debate.

Everyone is the other, and no one is himself.


Why is there Being at all, and not much rather Nothing? That is the question.
Language is the house of the truth of Being.
The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.
  • The grandeur of man is measured according to what he seeks and according to the urgency by which he remains a seeker.
    • Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected "Problems" of "Logic" (Grundfragen der Philosophie: Ausgewählte "Probleme" der "Logik" (1984), translated by Richard Rojcewicz and André Schuwer, Indiana University Press, 1994, ISBN 0253004381, p. 7)
  • The desire to philosophize from the standpoint of standpointlessness, as a purportedly genuine and superior objectivity, is either childish, or, as is usually the case, disingenuous.
    • The Essence of Truth, 1931-32
  • Transcendence constitutes selfhood.
    • Essence of Ground (1929)
  • In its essence, technology is something that man does not control.
    • Der Spiegel Interview with Martin Heidegger, 1966
  • Warum ist überhaupt Seiendes und nicht vielmehr Nichts? Das ist die Frage.
    • Why are there beings at all, and why not rather nothing? That is the question.
    • What is Metaphysics? (1929), p. 110
    • Cf. Gottfried Leibniz, De rerum originatione radicali (1697)ː "cur aliquid potius extiterit quam nihil."
  • What is peddled about nowadays as philosophy, especially that of N.S. [National Socialism], but has nothing to do with the inner truth and greatness of that movement [namely the encounter between global technology and modern humanity] is nothing but fishing in that troubled sea of values and totalities.
    • Introduction to Metaphysics (1953) — a publication of lectures of 1935.
  • This Europe, which in its ruinous blindness is forever on the point of cutting its own throat, lies today in a great pincers, squeezed between Russia on one side and America on the other. From a metaphysical point of view, Russia and America are the same: the same dreary technological frenzy, the same unrestricted organization of the average man...
We [Germans] are caught in a pincers. Situated in the center, our nation incurs the severest pressure. It is the nation with the most neighbors and hence is the most endangered. With all this, it is the most metaphysical of nations. We are certain of this vocation...
    • Introduction to Metaphysics
  • Those in the crossing must in the end know what is mistaken by all urging for intelligibility: that every thinking of being, all philosophy, can never be confirmed by "facts," ie, by beings. Making itself intelligible is suicide for philosophy. Those who idolize "facts" never notice that their idols only shine in a borrowed light. They are also meant not to notice this; for thereupon they would have to be at a loss and therefore useless. But idolizers and idols are used wherever gods are in flight and so announce their nearness.
  • The human being is not the lord of beings, but the shepherd of Being.
    • Letter on Humanism (1947)
  • Language is the house of the truth of Being.
    • Letter on Humanism (1947)
  • Das Bedenklichste in unserer bedenklichen Zeit ist, dass wir noch nicht denken.
    • The most thought-provoking thing in our thought-provoking time is that we are still not thinking.
    • What is Called Thinking? [Was heisst Denken?] (1951–1952), as translated by Fred D. Wieck and J. Glenn Gray (1968)
  • Everywhere we remain unfree and chained to technology, whether we passionately affirm or deny it. But we are delivered over to it in the worst possible way when we regard it as something neutral; for this conception of it, to which today we particularly like to do homage, makes us utterly blind to the essence of technology.
  • The Geschick of being: a child that plays... Why does it play, the great child of the world-play Heraclitus brought into view in the aiôn? It plays, because it plays. The "because" withers away in the play. The play is without "why." It plays since it plays. It simply remains a play: the most elevated and the most profound. But this "simply" is everything, the one, the only... The question remains whether and how we, hearing the movements of this play, play along and accommodate ourselves to the play.
    • The Principle of Reason (1955–1956) as translated by Reginald Lilly (1991)
  • Philosophy will not be able to effect an immediate transformation of the present condition of the world. This is not only true of philosophy, but of all merely human thought and endeavor. Only a god can save us. The sole possibility that is left for us is to prepare a sort of readiness, through thinking and poeticizing, for the appearance of the god or for the absence of the god in the time of foundering [Untergang] for in the face of the god who is absent, we founder. Only a God Can Save Us.
    • Interview (23 September 1966), published posthumously in Der Spiegel (31 May 1976), as translated by Maria P. Alter and John D. Caputo in The Heidegger Controversy : A Critical Reader (1991), edited by Richard Wolin.
  • From our human experience and history, at least as far as I am informed, I know that everything essential and great has only emerged when human beings had a home and were rooted in a tradition. Today’s literature is, for instance, largely destructive.
    • Interview (23 September 1966), published posthumously in Der Spiegel (31 May 1976), as translated by Maria P. Alter and John D. Caputo in The Heidegger Controversy : A Critical Reader (1991), edited by Richard Wolin.
  • I see the situation of man in the world of planetary technicity not as an inexitricable and inescapable destiny, but I see the task of thought precisely in this, that within its own limits it helps man as such achieve a satisfactory relationship to the essence of technicity. National Socialism did indeed go in this direction. Those people, however, were far too poorly equipped for thought to arrive at a really explicit relationship to what is happening today and has been underway for the past 300 years.
    • Interview (23 September 1966), published posthumously in Der Spiegel (31 May 1976), as translated by William Richardson in Risk and Meaning, Nicolas Bouleau (translated by Dené Oglesby and Martin Crossley), ed. Springer, 2011 ISBN 978-3-642-17646-3, page 102.
  • Today we decide about metaphysics and about even more elevated things at philosophy conferences. For everything that is to be done these days we must first have a meeting, and here is how it works: people come together, constantly come together, and they all wait for one another to turn up so that the others will tell them how it is, and if it doesn’t get said, never mind, everyone has had their say. It may very well be that all the talkers who are having their say have understood little of the matter in question, but still we believe that if we accumulate all that misunderstanding something like understanding will leap forth at the end of the day. Thus there are people today who travel from one meeting to the next and who are sustained by the confidence that something is really happening, that they’ve actually done something; whereas, at bottom, they’ve merely ducked out of work, seeking in chatter a place to build a nest for their helplessness—a helplessness, it is true, that they will never understand.
    • Gesamtausgabe, 20:376, as translated by David Farrell Krell in Portraits of American Continental Philosophers (1999), p. 101
In order to remain silent Dasein must have something to say.
  • It is said that "being" is the most universal and the emptiest concept. As such it resists every attempt at definition. Nor does this most universal and thus indefinable concept need any definition. Everybody uses it constantly and also already understands what is meant by it.
    • Introduction: The Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being (Stambaugh translation)
  • Every questioning is a seeking. Every seeking takes its direction beforehand from what is sought. Questioning is a knowing search for beings in their thatness and whatness.
    • Introduction: The Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being (Stambaugh translation)
  • But in fact there is no circle at all in the formulation of our question. Beings can be determined in their being without the explicit concept of the meaning of being having to be already available. If this were not so there could not have been as yet any ontological knowledge. And prob­ably no one would deny the factual existence of such knowledge. It is true that "being" is "presupposed" in all previous ontology, but not as an available concept-not as the sort of thing we are seeking.
    • Introduction: The Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being (Stambaugh translation)
  • Our elucidations of the preliminary concept of phenomenology show that its essential character does not consist in its actuality as a philosophical "movement." Higher than actuality stands possibility. We can understand phenomenology solely by seizing upon it as a possibility.
    • Introduction: The Exposition of the Question of the Meaning of Being (Stambaugh translation)
  • We ourselves are the entities to be analyzed
    • Macquarrie & Robinson translation
  • Everyone is the other, and no one is himself. The they, which supplies the answer to the who of everyday Da-sein, is the nobody to whom every Da-sein has always already surrendered itself, in its being-among-one-another.
    • Stambaugh translation
  • The domination of the public way in which things have been interpreted has already decided upon even the possibilities of being attuned, that is, about the basic way in which Da-sein lets itself be affected by the world. The they prescribes that attunement, it determines what and how one "sees."
    • Stambaugh translation
  • In order to remain silent Da-sein must have something to say.
    • Stambaugh translation
  • Nevertheless, the ultimate business of philosophy is to preserve the force of the most elemental words in which Dasein expresses itself, and to keep the common understanding from levelling them off to that unintelligibility which functions in turn as a source of pseudo-problems.
    • Macquarrie & Robinson translation
  • Being is only Being for Dasein
    • Macquarrie & Robinson translation
  • Der Tod ist die Möglichkeit der schlechthinnigen Daseinsunmöglichkeit.
    • Death is the possibility of the absolute impossibility of Dasein.
      • Macquarrie & Robinson translation

What Is A Thing? (1935, 1968)

  • What Is A Thing? Heidegger, Martin. Translated by W.B. Barton and V. Deutsch. What Is A Thing? Gateway Editions, 1968.
  • Plato has preserved in the Theaetetus - the story is that Thales, while occupied in studying the heavens above and looking up, fell into a well. A good-looking and whimsical maid from Thrace laughed at him and told him that while he might passionately want to know all things in the universe, the things in front of his very nose and feet were unseen by him." Plato added: "This jest also fits all those who become involved in Philosophy." Therefore, the question, What is a thing?" must always be rated as one that causes housemaids to laugh. p. 3
  • Kant speaks of the "thing-in-itself" (Ding an sich) in order to distinguish it from the "thing-for-us" (Ding fur uns), that is, as a "phenomenon." A thing-in-itself is that which is not approachable through experience as are the rocks, plants, and animals. Every thing-for-us is as a thing and also a thing-in-itself, which means that it is recognized absolutely withing the absolute knowledge of God. But not every thing-in-itself is also a thing-for-us: God, for instance, is a thing-in-itself, as Kant uses the word, according to the meaning of Christian theology. p. 5
  • The particularity (Jeweiligkeit) os the places and their manifoldness are grounded in space, and the particularity of the time points is grounded in time. That basic characteristic of the thing, that essential determination of the thingness of the thing to be this one (je dieses), is grounded in the essence of space and time. Our question "What is a thing?" includes, therefore, the questions "What is space?" and "What is time?" It is customary to speak of of them both together. p. 16
  • There is no information about the thingness of the thing without knowledge of the kind of truth in which the thing stands. But there is no information about this truth of the thing without knowledge of the thingness of the thing whose truth is in question. Where are we to get a foothold? The ground slips away under us. Perhaps we are already close to falling into the well. At any rate the housemaids are already laughing. p. 27
  • "Here is the chalk." This is a truth; and here and the now hereby characterize the chalk so that we emphasize by saying; the chalk, which means "this." We take a scrap of paper and we write the truth down: "Here is the chalk." We lay this written statement beside the thing of which it is the truth. After the lecture is finished both doors are opened, the classroom is aired, there will be a draft, and the scrap of paper, let us suppose, will flutter out into the corridor. A student finds it on his way to the cafeteria, reads the sentence. "Here is the chalk," and ascertains that this is not true at all. Through the draft the truth has become an untruth. Strange that a truth should depend on a gust of wind. ... We have made the truth about the chalk independent of us and entrusted it to a scrap of paper. p. 29-30
  • "What is a thing?" is historical, because every report of the past, that is of the preliminaries to the question about the thing, is concerned with something static. This kind of historical reporting is an explicit shutting down of history, whereas it is, after all, a happening. We question historically if we ask what is still happening even if it seems to be past. We ask what is still happening and whether we remain equal to this happening so that it can really develop. p. 43
  • Do the essences of proposition and of the truth determine themselves from out of the essence of the thing, or does the essence of the thing determine itself from out of the essence of the proposition? The question is posed as an either/or. However does this either/or itself suffice? Are the essence of the thing and the essence of the proposition only built as mirror images because both of them together determine themselves from out of the same but deeper lying root? However, what and where can be this common ground for the essence of the thing and of the proposition and of their origin? The unconditioned (Unbedingt)? We stated at the beginning that what conditions the essense of the thing in its thingness can no longer itself be thing and conditioned, it must be an unconditioned (Un-bedingtes). p. 47
  • Kant's philosophy shifts for the first time the whole of modern thought and being (Desein) into the clarity and transparency of the foundation (Begrundung). This determines every attitude toward knowledge since then, as well as the bounds (Abgrenzungen) and appraisals of the sciences in the nineteenth century up to the present time. Therein Kant towers so far above all who precede and follow that even those who reject him or go beyond him still remain entirely dependent upon him. p. 55-56
  • Mathematics is as little a natural science as philosophy is one of the humanities. Philosophy in its essence belongs as little in the philosophical faculty as mathematics belongs to natural science. To house philosophy and mathematics in this way today seems to be a blemish or a mistake in the catalog of the universities. Plato put over the entrance to his Academy the words: "Let no one who has not grasped the mathematical enter here!" p. 69,75
  • Modern philosophy is usually considered to have begun with Descartes (1596-1650), who lived a generation after Galileo. The following is the usual image of Descartes and his philosophy: During the Middle Ages philosophy stood - if it stood independently at all - under the exclusive domination of theology and gradually degenerated into a mere analysis of concepts and elucidations of traditional opinion and propositions. It petrified into an academic knowledge which no longer concerned man and was unable to illuminate reality as a whole. Then Descartes appeared and liberated philosophy from this position. He began by doubting everything, but this doubt finally did run into something which could no longer be doubted, for, inasmuch as the skeptic doubts, he cannot doubt that he, the skeptic, is present and must be present in order to doubt at all. As I doubt I must admit that "I am." The "I," accordingly, is the indubitable. As a doubter, Descartes forced men into doubt in this way; he led them to think of themselves, as their "I." Thus the "I," human subjectivity, came to be declared the center of thought. From here originated the I-viewpoint of modern times and its subjectivism. p. 98-99
  • Kant stands in the tradition of the Leibniz-Woffian school. He made the thinking through of English philosophy, especially Hume, fruitful for the formation of his own questioning. On the whole, however, the school-philosophy of Leibniz-Wolffian stamp remained predominant in Kant. He used Metaphysica 1739, by Alexander Baumgarten (1714-1762) in his lectures in metaphysics and appreciated this textbook "especially for the richness and precision of its teaching method." p. 114

Nietzsche (1961)

Translated by D. F. Krell (New York: 1991)
  • In everything well known something worthy of thought still lurks.
    • p. xxxix
  • If in Nietzsche’s thinking the prior tradition of Western thought is gathered and completed in a decisive respect, then the confrontation with Nietzsche becomes one with all Western thought hitherto.
    • p. 4
  • “For many, abstract thinking is toil; for me, on good days, it is feast and frenzy.” (XIV, 24) Abstract thinking a feast? The highest form of human existence? … “The feast implies: pride, exuberance, frivolity; mockery of all earnestness and respectability; a divine affirmation of oneself, out of animal plenitude and perfection—all obviously states to which the Christian may not honestly say Yes. The feast is paganism par excellence.” (WM, 916). For that reason, we might add that thinking never takes place in Christianity. That is to say, there is no Christian philosophy. There is no true philosophy that could be determined anywhere else than from within itself.
    • p. 5
  • For anyone who at the end of Western philosophy can and must still question philosophically, the decisive question is no longer merely “What basic character do beings manifest?” or “How may the being of beings be characterized?” but “What is this ‘being’ itself?” The decisive question is that of “the meaning of being,” not merely that of the being of beings.
    • p. 18
  • “To stamp becoming with the character of being—that is the supreme will to power.” (WM 617) This suggests that becoming only is if it is grounded in being as being: “That everything recurs is the closest approximation of a world of becoming to one of being.”
    • p. 19
  • Eternity, not as a static “now,” nor as a sequence of “nows” rolling off into the infinite, but as the “now” that bends back into itself. … Thinking the most difficult thought of philosophy means thinking being as time.
    • p. 20
  • The critique of the highest values hitherto does not simply refute them or declare them invalid. It is rather a matter of displaying their origins as impositions which must affirm precisely what ought to be negated by the values established.
    • p. 26
  • In Nietzsche’s view nihilism is not a Weltanschauung that occurs at some time and place or another; it is rather the basic character of what happens in Occidental history.
    • p. 26
  • In contrast to “Blessed are they who do not see and still believe,” he speaks of “seeing and still not believing.”
    • p. 30
  • If beings are grasped as will to power, the “should” which is supposed to hang suspended over them, against which they might be measured, becomes superfluous. If life itself is will to power, it is itself the ground, principium, of valuation. Then a “should” does not determine being. Being determines a “should.” “When we talk of values we are speaking under the inspiration or optics of life: life itself compels us to set up values; life itself values through us whenever we posit values.” (VIII, 89)
    • p. 32
  • The small are always dependent on the great; they are “small” precisely because they think they are independent. The great thinker is one who can hear what is greatest in the work of other “greats” and who can transform it in an original manner.
    • p. 35
  • Nietzsche … does not shy from conscious exaggeration and one-sided formulations of his thought, believing that in this way he can most clearly set in relief what in his vision and in his inquiry is different from the run-of-the-mill.
    • p. 50
  • This is precisely what is decisive in Nietzsche’s conception of art, that he sees it in its essential entirety in terms of the artist; this he does consciously and in explicit opposition to that conception of art which represents it in terms of those who “enjoy” and “experience” it.
    That is a guiding principle of Nietzsche’s teaching on art: art must be grasped in terms of creators and producers, not recipients. Nietzsche expresses it unequivocally in the following words (WM, 811): “Our aesthetics heretofore has been a woman’s aesthetics, inasmuch as only the recipients of art have formulated their experiences of ‘what is beautiful.’ In all philosophy to date the artist is missing.” Philosophy of art means “aesthetics” for Nietzsche too—but masculine aesthetics, not feminine aesthetics. The question of art is the question of the artist as the productive, creative one; his experiences of what is beautiful must provide the standard.
    • p. 70
  • ...der Wille zur »wahren Welt« im Sinne Platons und des Christentums … ist in Wahrheit ein Neinsagen zu unserer hiesigen Welt, in der gerade die Kunst heimisch ist.
    • The will to the “true world” in the sense of Plato and Christianity … is in truth a no-saying to our present world, precisely the one in which art is at home.
    • p. 74
  • The relation of feeling toward art and its bringing-forth can be one of production or one of reception and enjoyment.
    • p. 78
  • We do not “have” a body; rather, we “are” bodily.
    • p. 99
  • Nietzsche understands the aesthetic state of the observer and recipient on the basis of the state of the creator. Thus the effect of the artwork is nothing else than a reawakening of the creator’s state in the one who enjoys the artwork. Observation of art follows in the wake of creation. Nietzsche says (SM, 821), “—the effect of artworks is arousal of the art-creating state, rapture.”
    • p. 117
  • Enjoyment of the work consists in participation in the creative state of the artist.
    • p. 117
  • Form displays the relation [to beings] itself as the state of original comportment toward beings, the festive state in which the being itself in its essence is celebrated and thus for the first time placed in the open.
    • p. 119
  • We think of beauty as being most worthy of reverence. But what is most worthy of reverence lights up only where the magnificent strength to revere is alive. To revere is not a thing for the petty and lowly, the incapacitated and underdeveloped. It is a matter of tremendous passion; only what flows from such passion is in the grand style.
    • p. 125
  • The word “art” does not designate the concept of a mere eventuality; it is a concept of rank.
    • p. 125
  • Who is to determine what the perfect is? It could only be those who are themselves perfect and who therefore know what it means. Here yawns the abyss of that circularity in which the whole of human Dasein moves. What health is, only the healthy can say. Yet healthfulness is measured according to the essential starting point of health. What truth is, only one who is truthful can discern; but the one who is truthful is determined according to the essential starting point of truth.
    • p. 127

Quotes about Heidegger

Ask professional philosophers of today to name the five most significant philosophers of the twentieth century and, whether they love him or loathe him, most will include Heidegger on the list. ~ Stephen Hicks
Alphabetized by author
  • [Heidegger] lies notoriously always and everywhere, and whenever he can.
  • I desire to restore alienation to the literary sense it possessed before the abominable Martin Heidegger, Nazi philosopher of Dasein....I prefer... Freud, alienation essentially as the estrangement he termed the "Uncanny" (Unheimlich), which, as I have argued elsewhere, is our modern version of the Sublime.
    • Harold Bloom Introduction, Bloom's Literary Themes: Alienation, Edited by Bloom and Blake Hobby, Chelsea House Publications (2009), p. xv
  • As we have seen, Heidegger secularizes the Single One of Kierkegaard, that is, he severs the relation to the absolute for which Kierkegaard’s man becomes a Single One. And as we have seen, he does not replace this “for” with any other worldly and human “for”. He ignores the decisive fact that only the man who has become a Single One, a self, a real person, is able to have a complete relation of his life to the other self, a relation which is not beneath but above the problematic of the relations between man and man, and which comprises, withstands and overcomes all this problematic situation.
    • Martin Buber, Between Man And Man, 1947 Translated By Ronald Gregor Smith Kegan Paul London 1965 p. 174-175
  • Heidegger’s political views are commonly deplored today on account of his early and open support of Nazism. Because of this connection, many like to suppose that his influence on subsequent political thought (as distinct from general intellectual thought) in Europe has been meager. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth. Heidegger’s major ideas were sufficiently protean that with a bit of tinkering they could easily be adopted by the left, which they were. Following the war, Heidegger’s thought, shorn of its national socialism but fortified in its anti-Americanism, was embraced by many on the left, often without attribution. In the writings of numerous thinkers like Jean-Paul Sartre, “Heideggerianism” was married to communism, and this odd coupling became the core of the intellectual left for the next generation.
    • James Ceasar, “The Philosophical Origins of Anti-Americanism in Europe”, in Understanding Anti-Americanism: Its Origins and Impact at Home and Abroad (2000), Paul Hollander (ed), Ivan R. Dee, ISBN 1566635640, p. 58
  • What is it about the study of philosophy that tends to make brilliant minds stupid when it comes down to what are known as actual cases? Consider Martin Heidegger, Bertrand Russell, Jean-Paul Sartre, and Ludwig Wittgenstein, the four great names in twentieth-century philosophy: the first was a Nazi, the second died certain that America was responsible for all the world’s evil, the third was a Stalinist long after any justification for being so could be adduced, and the fourth lived on the borders of madness most of his life. Contemplation of the lives of philosophers is enough to drive one to the study of sociology.
  • Later, after it was all over, the historian Friedrich Meinecke tried to explain 'the German catastrophe' by arguing that technical specialization had caused some educated Germans (not him, needless to say) to lose sight of the humanistic values of Goethe and Schiller; thus they were unable to resist Hitler's 'mass Machiavellianism'. Thomas Mann was unusual in being able to recognize even at the time that, in 'Brother Hitler', the entire German Bildungsburgertum possessed a monstrous younger sibling who embodied some of their deepest-rooted aspirations. An academic education, far from inoculating people against Nazism, made them more likely to embrace it. So much for the greatness of the German universities. Their fall from grace was personified by the readiness of Martin Heidegger, the greatest German philosopher of his generation, to jump on the Nazi bandwagon, a swastika pin in his lapel.
    • Niall Ferguson, The War of the World: Twentieth-Century Conflict and the Descent of the West (2006), p. xliii
  • Heidegger's method, and especially the philosophical earnestness fundamental to its application, achieved for the philosophical public of Germany a new Copernican revolution of speculative thought.
    It one takes that judgment seriously, one should expect, therefore, that a more considered study might reveal, within the framework of an anthropocentric approach to metaphysics, some unique insight or some new tools of analysis. As a matter of fact, I cannot make any such discovery either in Heidegger's published works or in oral exposition of his views. A close examination seems rather to expose, within the ponderous sentences of essay lecture, a very insubstantial basis for a flimsy superstructure. Heidegger's philosophy is unique only rampant misuse of language and in its own emphatic claim to uniqueness.
    • Marjorie Glicksman, "A Note on the Philosophy of Heidegger". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol 35 no 4, Feb 17, 1938, pp. 93-104.
  • It seems to be for the greater glory of Heidegger that all thinkers of the past twenty-five hundred years are found to have been so tragically off the track.
    • Marjorie Glicksman, "A Note on the Philosophy of Heidegger". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol 35 no 4, Feb 17, 1938, pp. 93-104.
  • It should be added, perhaps, that the forcefulness of Heidegger's "aristocratic" arguments depends in large part on the personality of the lecturer. One is caught as in a political rally by the slow intensity of his speech. The contemptuous epigrams with which he dismisses the protests of logic or good sense sting the listeners ears with their acidity; and his prophetic solemnity when he invokes the quest for being ties one as spellbound as if one were a novice taking his first steps into the Eleusinian mysteries.
    • Marjorie Glicksman, "A Note on the Philosophy of Heidegger". The Journal of Philosophy, Vol 35 no 4, Feb 17, 1938, pp. 93-104.
  • When, in the summer of 1953, that is, still during my university studies in Bonn, I read a recently published lecture by Heidegger from the year 1935, the Introduction to Metaphysics, the jargon, the choice of terminology and the style told me at once that the spirit of fascism was manifested in these motives, thoughts and phrases. The book really unsettled me because I had regarded myself up till then as a student of Heidegger. The newspaper article, in which I poured out my great political and philosophical disappointment the same weekend, is therefore entitled: “Thinking with Heidegger against Heidegger”. At the time it was impossible to know that Heidegger had written anti-Semitic letters to his wife as early as 1916 and that he had become a convinced Nazi long before 1933. The fact that he had remained an unrepentant Nazi, however, could be known by 1953 at the latest.
  • Heidegger is notorious for the obscurity of his prose and for his actions and inactions on behalf of the National Socialists during the 1930s, and he is unquestionably the leading twentieth-century philosopher for the postmodernists.
    • Stephen Hicks (2004), Explaining Postmodernism: Skepticism and Socialism from Rousseau to Foucault, AZ: Tempe, Scholargy Press, p. 58
  • Ask professional philosophers of today to name the five most significant philosophers of the twentieth century and, whether they love him or loathe him, most will include Heidegger on the list.
    • Stephen Hicks, Nietzsche and the Nazis (2007), Occam's Razor, p. 10
  • In recent years [Heidegger] has allowed his anti-Semitism to come increasingly to the fore, even in his dealings with his groups of devoted Jewish students. […] The events of the last few weeks have struck at the deepest roots of my existence.
    • Edmund Husserl (1859–1938), Heidegger's mentor, following Heidegger’s appointment as Rector of University of Freiburg in 1933 and the passing of anti-Jewish laws that restricted his professional duties. As quoted by Richard Wolen, Heidegger's Children, Princeton University Press, 2001, p.11.
  • Heidegger's Sein und Zeit [Being and Time]... develops a "fundamental ontology" according to the modes in which the self "exists,"... and originates... several meanings of Being...explicated in a number of fundamental categories... [i.e.,] "existentials"... functional structures of the active movement of inner time by which a "world" is entertained and the self [is] originated as a continuous event. The "existentials" have... a profoundly temporal meaning... [i.e.,] categories of internal or mental time, the true dimension of existence... must exhibit, and distribute between them, the three horizons of time—past, present, and future... [I]n the classical... "table of categories"... the column under... "present" remains practically empty... For the existentially "genuine" present is the present of the "situation," which is wholly defined in terms of the self's relation to its "future" and "past." It flashes up... in the light of decision, when the projected "future" reacts upon the given "past" (Geworfenheit) and in this meeting constitutes what Heidegger calls the "moment" (Augenblick): moment, not duration, is the temporal mode of this "present"—a creature of the other two horizons of time, a function of their ceaseless dynamics, and no independent dimension to dwell in. ...a derivative and "deficient" mode of existence. ...[A]ll the relevant categories of existence... having to do with the possible authenticity of selfhood, fall in correlate pairs under... either past or future... No present remains for genuine existence to repose in. Leaping off... from its past, existence projects itself into the future; faces its ultimate limit, death; returns from this eschatological glimpse of nothingness... [T]here is no present to dwell in, only the crisis between past and future... balanced on the razor's edge of decision which thrusts ahead.
    • Hans Jonas, The Gnostic Religion: The Message of the Alien God and the Beginning of Christianity (1963) pp. 335-336.
  • Heidegger’s initial attitude toward Hitler throws light on his later thought. He once believed in a false messiah. Now he mistrusts all answers and celebrates the ability to wait as piety itself. Not being able to wait is the sin against the spirit. The second coming – rather the second half of Being and Time –may seem overdue. But, though impious in other ways, most English-speaking philosophers can wait. In all his later writings Heidegger insists on the importance of questions and not on answers, on thinking rather than conclusions; but, unlike Jaspers, whom he resembles at this point, he does not speak of “philosophizing” but of “being on the way.”
    • Walter Kaufmann, From Shakespeare to Existentialism, 1959, 1960 Heidegger’s Castle p. 344
  • All in all, Heidegger's philosophy is an example of Herrschaftswissen [roughly translated as 'knowledge of domination'] in the service of a repressive society. It calls on us to abandon concepts for the sake of a promised communion with Being — but this Being has no content, precisely because it is supposed to be apprehended without the 'mediation' of concepts; basically it is no more than a substantivation of the copula 'is'.
  • We nicknamed Heidegger ‘the little magician from Messkirch’ … His lecturing method consisted in constructing an edifice of ideas, which he himself then dismantled again so as to baffle fascinated listeners, only to leave them up in the air. This art of enchantment sometimes had the most disturbing effects in that it attracted more or less psychopathic personalities, and one female student committed suicide three years after such guessing games
    • Joseph Kockelmans, “Heidegger on Theology”, in Thinking about Being: Aspects of Heidegger’s Thought, edited by Robert W. Shahan and J.N. Mohanty (Norman: University of Oklahoma Press, 1984).
  • Heidegger’s thought will fit no category; no more than Hegel can be presented as a Platonist or Kant as a follower of Leibniz and Hume. It is equally foolish to say that Heidegger is just Kierkegaard de-Christianized, or Nietzsche systematized, or Hegel de-absolutized. I consider Heidegger’s philosophy one of those extraordinary manifestations of man’s forging of a knowledge of Being which the ages cannot but recon with.
    • Thomas Lange, Meaning of Heidegger; a critical study of an existentialist phenomenology, 1959 P. 8
  • What has happened to those who, like Heidegger, have tried to find their ways in immediacy, in intuition, in nature, would be too sad to retell—and is well known anyway. What is certain is that those pathmarks off the beaten track led indeed nowhere.
    • Bruno Latour, “Why Has Critique Run out of Steam? From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern” Critical Inquiry 30, (Winter 2004)
  • One can forgive many Germans, but there are some Germans it is difficult to forgive. It is difficult to forgive Heidegger.
    • Emmanuel Lévinas, Heidegger's pre-WWII colleague at University of Freiburg, Nine Talmudic Readings, trans. Annette Aronowicz. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1994. p. 25
  • It is rather difficult to describe Heidegger’s face because he could never look straight into one’s eyes for long. His natural expression revealed a reflective brow, an inscrutable countenance, and downcast eyes, which now and again would cast a quick glance to assess the situation. Forced, in conversation, to look one straight in the face, he would appear reserved and insecure, for he lacked the gift of candid communication with other people. Hence his natural expression was one of cautious, peasant-sly mistrust
    • Karl Löwith, Heidegger’s colleague, as quoted in Ettinger, Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger, p. 11.
  • [T]he tenor of Derridian philosophy shares with Heidegger’s a dangerous proclivity towards the bombastic translations of problems of being and knowledge into strident moral dilemmas. Like the cosmic drama of Being repressed by being in Heidegger, Derrida’s protests against phonocentrism sound more like lay sermonizing than genuine analytical argument.
  • The thing I object to the most about Heidegger was that he was a guru. He practiced philosophy not as a Socratic practice of exchange, where you and I are equal, and it's just a matter of who has the better argument. But no, he was an authority figure, and he fed people's desire to submit themselves to authority. So I think actually his way of teaching was anti-philosophical.
  • I appeal to the philosophers of all countries to unite and never again mention Heidegger or talk to another philosopher who defends Heidegger. This man was a devil. I mean, he behaved like a devil to his beloved teacher [i.e., Husserl ], and he has a devilish influence on Germany. … One has to read Heidegger in the original to see what a swindler he was.
    • Karl Popper, as quoted in "At 90, and Still Dynamic : Revisiting Sir Karl Popper and Attending His Birthday Party" by Eugene Yue-Ching Ho, in Intellectus 23 (Jul-Sep 1992)
  • Heidegger's Nazism and the failure to confront it are philosophically significant for Heidegger's philosophy, for its reception, and for philosophy itself. At a time when some are still concerned to deny the existence of the Holocaust, in effect to deny that Nazism was Nazism, and many still deny that Nazism had a more than tangential appeal to one of the most significant theories of this century, merely to assert the philosophical significance of an abject philosophical failure to seize the historical moment for the German Volk and Being is not likely to win the day. Yet there is something absurd, even grotesque about the conjunction of the statement that Heidegger is an important, even a great philosopher, perhaps one of the few seminal thinkers in the history of the tradition, with the realization that he, like many of his followers, entirely failed, in fact failed in the most dismal manner, to grasp or even to confront Nazism. If philosophy is its time captured in thought, and if Heidegger and his epigones have basically failed to grasp their epoch, can we avoid the conclusion that they have also failed this test, failed as philosophers?
    • Tom Rockmore (1992) On Heidegger's Nazism and Philosophy. Berkeley: University of California Press, p. 289
  • After several decades of courageous scholarship by Hugo Ott, Victor Farias and Emmanuel Faye in Europe, and related work by American scholars Thomas Sheehan, Richard Wolin, Tom Rockmore and others, no sensible observer today doubts that Heidegger, the most celebrated figure in twentieth-century German philosophy, lied his inauthentic head off about his relationship to the Nazis. Far from being a reluctant sympathizer for a brief period in the early 1930s, as he sought to convince his denazification committee, Heidegger had been an enthusiastic believer in National Socialism’s “inner truth and greatness.” He hoped to become the Fuhrer of the university system, to play philosopher-king to Hilter’s Fuhrerstaat...
    • Carlin Romano (2013), America the Philosophical, NY:Vintage, pp. 367-368
  • The philosophical tradition that goes from Descartes to Husserl, and indeed a large part of the philosophical tradition that goes back to Plato, involves a search for foundations: metaphysically certain foundations of knowledge, foundations of language and meaning, foundations of mathematics, foundations of morality, etc. […] Now, in the twentieth century, mostly under the influence of Wittgenstein and Heidegger, we have come to believe that this general search for these sorts of foundations is misguided.
    • John Searle, “The Word Turned Upside Down,” The New York Review of Books, 27 October 1983
  • Finally, there is Heidegger's stunning silence about the Holocaust. For the hundreds of pages that he published on the dehumanizing powers of modern civilization, for all the ink he spilled decrying the triumph of a spiritless technology, Heidegger never saw fit, as far as I know, to publish a single word on the death camps. Instead, he pleaded ignorance of the fate of the Jews during the war—even though the Jewish population of Baden, where Heidegger lived, dropped dramatically from 20,600 in 1933 to 6400 in 1940, and even though virtually all of the 6400 who remained were deported to France on October 22, 1940, and thence to Izbica, the death camp near Lublin. As Heidegger was lecturing on Nietzsche in the Forties, there were only 820 Jews left in all of Baden. We have his statements about the six million unemployed at the beginning of the Nazi regime, but not a word about the six million who were dead at the end of it.
    • Thomas Sheehan (1988) “Heidegger and the Nazis.” The New York Review of Books, Vol. 35, No. 10 (June 16, 1988), pp. 38–47.
  • Was Heidegger's support for Nazism primarily a philosophical affair — indeed, a philosophical mistake — that could be easily corrected by a change in philosophical position? The opposite would seem to be the case, namely, that Heidegger's support for Hitler was intimately bound up with his own very conservative political views and his deep-seated anti-democratic and anti-modern attitudes. Since those attitudes demonstrably persist in Heidegger's thinking up to his death, to what degree is Heidegger's entire philosophy, both early and late, inextricably linked with his politics in the broadest sense, that is, with what he called the "inner truth and greatness" of National Socialism? […] And then there is a question of why, after the war, Heidegger chose to maintain an almost hermetic silence about his support for Hitler and the Nazis. Shouldn't the philosopher who had written so powerfully about the existential themes of responsibility, resoluteness, and authenticity have had at least something to say about his own personal responsibility for his actions during the Third Reich rather than glossing over the matter by blaming everything and everyone else?
    • Thomas Sheehan, “A Normal Nazi,” New York Review of Books, 14 Jan 1993.
  • Existentialism is a school of philosophic thought. The name is not like Platonism, Epicureanism, and Thomism. Existentialism is a nameless movement like pragmatism or positivism. This is deceptive. Existentialism owes its overriding significance to a single man: Heidegger. Heidegger alone brought about such a radical change in philosophic thought as is revolutionizing all thought in Germany, in continental Europe, and is beginning to affect even Anglo-Saxony. I am not surprised by this effect. I remember the impression he made on me when I heard him first as a young Ph.D. in 1922. Up to that time I had been particularly impressed, as many of my contemporaries in Germany were, by Max Weber, by Weber's intransigent devotion to intellectual honesty, by his passionate devotion to the idea of science, a devotion that was combined with a profound uneasiness regarding the meaning of science. On my way north from Freiburg where Heidegger then taught, I saw in Frankfurt am Main Franz Rosenzweig whose name will always be remembered when informed people speak about Existentialism, and I told him of Heidegger. I said to him: in comparison with Heidegger, Weber appeared to me as an orphan child in regard to precision, and probing, and competence. I had never seen before such seriousness, profundity, and concentration in the interpretation of philosophic texts.
    • Leo Strauss, "Existentialism", lecture in February 1956, published in Intreprataion: A Journal of Political Philosophy Vol. 22, No. 3 (Spring 1995)
  • Existentialism is a "movement" which like all such movements has a flabby periphery and a hard center. That center is the thought of Heidegger. To that thought alone existentialism owes its importance or intellectual respectability. There is no room for political philosophy in Heidegger's work, and this may well be due to the fact that the room in question is occupied by gods or the gods.
    • Leo Strauss, "Philosophy as Rigorous Science and Political Philosophy", Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 2, no. 1 (1971)
  • Among the many things that make Heidegger's thought so appealing to so many contemporaries is his accepting the premise that while human life and thought is radically historical, History is not a rational process. As a consequence, he denies that one can understand a thinker better than he understood himself and even as he understood himself: a great thinker will understand an earlier thinker of rank creatively, i.e. by transforming his thought, and hence by understanding him differently than he understood himself. One could hardly observe this transformation if one could not see the original form. Above all, according to Heidegger all thinkers prior to him have been oblivious of the true ground of all grounds, the fundamental abyss. This assertion implies the claim that in the decisive respect Heidegger understands his great predecessors better than they understood themselves.
    • Leo Strauss, "Philosophy as Rigorous Science and Political Philosophy", Interpretation: A Journal of Political Philosophy 2, no. 1 (1971)
  • Ignoring not only the sciences but the whole of the Western tradition since Plato caused Heidegger to remain too caught up in traditional metaphysics, from which only self-reflection could bring release.
    • Ralph Wiggershaus (1995). The Frankfurt School: Its History, Theories, and Political Significance Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, MIT Press, p. 595.
  • Two philosophers in particular have had an inordinate influence over the way contemporary literary theorists think. Nietzsche, the greatest misogynist of modern times, is the inspiration for those post-modern and post-structuralist sentiments that culminated in Michel Foucault's famous image of man as a figure in the sand about to be washed away by the next severe wave. Meanwhile, Heidegger, who has served as a source of ideas for those involved in the deep ecology movement as well as for many who work in artificial intelligence, has also exerted strong influence over recent movements in literary theory that question humanistic premises about the use of texts to reinforce moral meanings. Deconstruction in particular strives, as Luc Ferry and Alain Renaut put it, "to be fundamentally more Heideggerian than Heidegger himself," rooting out whatever last vestiges of humanism it can find in Heidegger's thought.
    • Alan Wolfe, The Human Difference: Animals, Computers, and the Necessity of Social Science (1993), Ch. 1. A Distinct Science for a Distinct Species
  • Heidegger is 'great' not in spite of, but because of his Nazi engagement...
    • Slavoj Žižek, In Defense of Lost Causes (2008), as quoted by Adam Kirsch, "The Deadly Jester", The New Republic, December 2, 2008

See also

Conservative intellectuals
France Bainvillede BenoistBernanosLe Bonde BonaldBossuetBrucknerCamusCarrelde ChateaubriandFayeFustel de CoulangesFaguetDurkheimGirardGuénonHouellebecqde Jouvenelde MaistreMaurrasRenande RivarolTainede TocquevilleZemmour
Germanosphere von BismarckBurckhardtHamannHegelHeideggerHerderJüngervon Kuehnelt-LeddihnKlagesLorenzLöwithMannNietzscheNolteNovalisPieperRauschningvon RankeRöpkeSchmittSloterdijkSchoeckSpenglervon TreitschkeWeininger
Italy D'AnnunzioEvolaGentileMoscaPareto
Iberia & Latin America de CarvalhoCortésDávilaFernández de la Mora y MonOrtega y GassetSalazar
United Kingdom AmisArnoldBalfourBellocBowdenBurkeCarlyleChestertonColeridgeDisraeliFergusonFilmerGaltonGibbonHitchensHumeJohnson (Paul)Johnson (Samuel)KiplingLandLawrenceLewisMoreMosleyMurrayNewmanOakeshottPowellRuskinScrutonStephenTolkienUnwinWaughWordsworthYeats
USA & Canada AntonBabbittCalhounCoolidgeCrichtonBellBellowBloomBoorstinBuchanan (Pat)Buckley Jr.BurnhamCaldwellConquestDerbyshireDouthatDreherDurantEastmanFrancisGoldbergGoldwaterGottfriedGrantHansonHuntingtonKimballKirkKristolLaschLovecraftMansfieldMearsheimerMeyerMurrayNockPagliaPetersonRepplierRufoRushtonShockleySowellSumnerThielViereckVoegelinWeaverYarvin
Russia DostoyevskyDuginHavelKaramzinSolzhenitsyn
Ummah Abduhal-AfghaniAhmadAsadal-BannaFardidIqbalKhameneiKhomeiniMaududiNadwial-QaradawiQutbShariatiRamadanRashtaRidaSafavial-Turabial-Wahhab
Other / Mixed Alamariu (Bronze Age Pervert)ConradEliadeEysenckHayekHazonyHoppeMannheimMishimaMolnarSantayanaStraussTalmon
Social and political philosophers
Classic AristotleMarcus AureliusChanakyaCiceroConfuciusMozi LaoziMenciusMoziPlatoPlutarchPolybiusSeneca the YoungerSocratesSun TzuThucydidesXenophonXun Zi
Conservative de BenoistBolingbrokeBonaldBurkeBurnhamCarlyleColeridgeComteCortésDurkheimDávilaEvolaFichteFilmerGaltonGentileHegelHeideggerHerderHobbesHoppeHumede JouvenelJüngerKirkvon Kuehnelt-LeddihnLandde MaistreMansfieldMoscaOakeshottOrtegaParetoPetersonSantayanaSchmittScrutonSowellSpenglerStraussTaineTocqueville • VicoVoegelinWeaverYarvin
Liberal ArendtAronBastiatBeccariaBenthamBerlinBoétieCamusCondorcetConstantDworkinEmersonErasmusFranklinFukuyamaHayekJeffersonKantLockeMachiavelliMadisonMaineMillMiltonMenckenMisesMontaigneMontesquieuNietzscheNozickOrtegaPopperRandRawlsRothbardSadeSchillerSimmelSmithSpencerSpinozade StaëlStirnerThoreauTocquevilleTuckerVoltaireWeberWollstonecraft
Religious al-GhazaliAmbedkarAugustine of HippoAquinasAugustineAurobindoCalvinChestertonDanteDayanandaDostoyevskyEliadeGandhiGirardGregoryGuénonJesusJohn of SalisburyJungKierkegaardKołakowskiLewisLutherMaimonidesMalebrancheMaritainMoreMuhammadMüntzerNiebuhrOckhamOrigenPhiloPizanQutbRadhakrishnanShariatiSolzhenitsynTaylorTeilhard de ChardinTertullianTolstoyVivekanandaWeil
Socialist AdornoAflaqAgambenBadiouBakuninBaudrillardBaumanBernsteinButlerChomskyde BeauvoirDebordDeleuzeDeweyDu BoisEngelsFanonFoucaultFourierFrommGodwinGoldmanGramsciHabermasKropotkinLeninLondonLuxemburgMaoMarcuseMarxMazziniNegriOwenPaine RortyRousseauRussellSaint-SimonSartreSkinnerSorelTrotskyWalzerXiaopingŽižek


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