09 May 2014

Heidegger’s notebooks reveal an early blindness to the Nazis' reality

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) is easily the most controversial philosopher in the 20th century. To a large extent this is due to his implication in Nazism, which is a scandal to some, a fascinating spectacle to others and an intellectual dilemma for many a serious reader of Heidegger’s texts. The inevitable question is whether Heidegger’s Nazism infected his philosophy.

Heidegger’s support for the Nazis is well known and has been meticulously documented. Six years after publication of Being and Time, Heidegger joined the NSDAP and was elected rector at the University of Freiburg in 1933. In that role he gave a number of speeches in support of the new regime and wrote denunciatory letters about liberal and left-leaning colleagues.