Stuart's Question two.
2. How does Grosse's 1934 description of Heidegger 'corroborate perfectly'
with Sartre? Let's leave aside that you are misreading Sartre here - he is
reporting how those he challenges put the problem, rather than signing up to it
himself. But in any case, this answer must of course take into full account the
intervening 10 years and the dramatic change in the party's attitude to
Heidegger; as well, of course, Heidegger's changing attitude to the party.
Here you ask how Sartre's description of Heidegger where he refers to him as
a Nazi Philosopher can be used as evidence to back up the Nazi Grosse's
high-level letter to the Foreign Policy Office of the Nazi Party, headed by Alfred
Rosenberg who was later executed for war crimes.
The answer is quite simple Stuart, for if you re-read Sartre's letter again
you will see that the thing turns on one's interpretation of the key sentence
What do you reproach us for? To begin with, for being inspired by Heidegger,
a German and a Nazi philosopher.'
Now here it is arguable whether he has taken on board the verbatim criticism
of his tormentors in their accusation [which we don't see] of Heidegger being
a German and a Nazi philosopher.' So that his response in this sentence can
be [or is taken by me to be] taken as being framed in the: 'So what!' mode. He
does not for example immediately respond and DENY that Heidegger was a German
or a Nazi Philosopher, and straight away acknowledge him being a German but
denying his being a German PHILOSOPHER, along the lines of:
(A) 'OK so he was a German, and he was a philosopher but he wasn't a Nazi
(B) OK so he was a German and a Philosopher but he was a philosopher who
happened to be a Nazi that's all.'
No he moves on and diligently kicks the ball into the long grass until he has
a chance to introduce other obfuscatory material with which to mount his
rhetorical defence, with a catalogue of other accusations apparently brought
against him by his enemies thus:
Are we not trying to corrupt the youth and turn it aside from action by
urging it to cultivate a refined despair? Are we not upholding nihilistic doctrines
(for an editorial writer in L'Aube, the proof is that I entitled a book
"Being and Nothingness". Nothingness; imagine!) during these years when everything
has to be redone or simply done, when the war is still going on, and when each
man needs all the strength that he has to win it and to win the peace?
Finally your third complaint is that existentialism likes to poke about in muck and
is much readier to show men's wickedness and baseness than their higher
After another paragraph he later he returns to the Heidegger theme thus:
Heidegger was a philosopher well before he was a Nazi.
This is completely irrelevant, and in fact invites the response that though H
was not a member of the Nazi Party his appetites for a form of mystical Right
Wing German Nationalism go back many years, and the Nazi Party was in fact a
crystallisation in a compound form of all these fantasies and dreams and
longings of the Nietzschean will to power as a spiritual tool in the achievement
of the great re-birth of the nation [after the defeat and humiliation in WW
ONE,] and the reshaping of Germany in the model of the Greek 'insipience,' where
the stumbling, antiquated almost Medieval ambling buffoon of the German
language was represented as 'the Ancient Greek tongue of the Modern World' blah,
blah, blah, a suggestion which has linguists and language aesthetes who
professes greater sensitivity than the grammatically challenged Heidegger to the
beauty of and art and nature of language [vide his poetry] rolling in the aisles
crapping themselves helplessly, totally rat-arsed with laughter.
Now [roll of drums] he comes up with his 'evidence' why Heidegger's
philosophy was not really Nazi just because he was a Nazi , and that was because he
was frightened [frightened in 1933? - him an obvious sympathiser long before he
joined?] And 'ambitious [aren't' most academics ambitious and anxious to be
read, and to be valued and offered higher office?] and 'conformist? Well he
was certainly conforming to the general public feelings which were violently
anti-Jewish and anti Versailles Treaty etc.
But tellingly Sartre MAKES NO ATTEMPT to defend Heidegger's actual philosophy
against the charges of it being Fascistic - NOT ONE WORD - NOT A SAUSAGE and
for God in heaven's sake, WHY if we do accept that Heidegger was
frightened, cowardy-custard, a
'get-out-of-my-way-you-little-Jew-and-give-me-the-key-to-the-library-ambitious-and-conformist.' is that one shred of rebuttal-type
evidence that his philosophy was not riddled with National Socialist innuendo and
symbolisations, which were identified obviously and picked up and passed on
by the party to such an extent that Walter Grosse could speak to the future
executed war criminal's office about the generally understood fact that he was
generally considered to be the leading philosophical representative of National
His adherence to Hitlerism is to be explained by fear, perhaps ambition, and
certainly conformism. Not pretty to look at, I agree; but enough to invalidate
your neat reasoning. "Heidegger," you say, "is a member of the National
Socialist Party; thus his philosophy must be Nazi." That's not it: Heidegger has no
character; there's the truth of the matter.
Sartre rounds off the subject with some smelly red herrings with are still
going the rounds on this list regarding Heidegger's 'cowardice which actually
HE HIMSELF had offered as one of the three weak excuses for Heidegger, and
craftily suggests that his critics will [are you going toâ?¦? he asks] attempt to
use this as amunition agaist Heidegger.
This is rhetorical nonsense [which I have already addressed in a note to
Calypso, and do not intend to repeat it here again - it's in the record] of the
very lowest degree.
Are you going to have the nerve to conclude from this that his philosophy is
an apology for cowardice? Don't you know that sometimes a man does not come up
to the level of his works? And are you going to condemn "The Social Contract"
because Rousseau abandoned his children? And what difference does Heidegger
make anyhow? If we discover our own thinking in that of another philosopher, if
we ask him for techniques and methods that can give us access to new
problems, does this mean that we espouse every one of his theories? Marx borrowed his
dialectic from Hegel. Are you going to say that "Capital" is a Prussian work?
We've seen the deplorable consequences of economic autarky; let's not fall
into intellectual autarky.
He was a very capable Communist writer and orator and rhetorician, and if
could turn his hand to spin-doctoring would have made an admiral replacement for
the previous demagogue to hold the role in number 10.
Jud Evans - ANALYTICAL INDICANT THEORY.
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