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Notes on Heidegger's Authoritarian Pedagogy

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To examine Heidegger's pedagogy is to be invited into a particular era and cultural reality—starting in Weimar Germany and progressing into the rise and fall of the Third Reich. In his attempt to reform the German university in a strictly hierarchical, authoritarian and nationalistic mold, Heidegger addressed one group of students and professors and not another. The petit-bourgeois student and the future philosophers he invited with his ‘logic of recruitment’ into the corps of instructors, would share his coded language with its built-in taboos and censorship. The result was a rhetoric of absolute self-reference and a semiotic of pure propaganda, based on the evocation of the ancient Greeks in which the philosopher meant to project all that was properly Germanic. Heidegger's rhetoric is exclusionary; its politics and its philosophy are interpenetrating. His lecture courses grew increasingly poeticized, and thus mired in ambiguity, evasion, elision, avoidance, grandiloquence. Parallels are drawn in this essay between Heidegger and our time. Is Heidegger's insistence on autocratic controls within the German university comparable to the corporate positions taken today by some educators? How does the shifting relation between disciplines affect the role of the specialist? How might the sciences morales or humanities, along with the much maligned ‘humanism’, be redefined morally and holistically?

Keywords: Heidegger; facticity; language; pedagogy; power (myth of); university (German)

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Georgia

Publication date: August 1, 2005


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