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Heidegger’s Thought and Nazism

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Abstract:

This article rejects the idea that Heidegger's Nazism derives from his philosophical thought. No connection has convincingly been shown to hold between the ontological apparatus of Being and Time and any political orientation. The elaboration of the concept of being in the later work needs to be understood as Heidegger's own reaction to the activism of his earlier thought which in the absence of any principle of respect for other human beings could provide no moral basis for resistance to Nazi ideology. The tensions between the circumstances of Heidegger's early life - rural, conservative, and Catholic - and the Nietzschean modernism of his philosophical thought are explored. It is suggested that there were analogous tensions between tradition and the modern world in Nazism and that it was Heidegger's hatred of that world that led him to respond favorably to some (but not all) of the themes of Nazi thought.

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/002017400414863

Publication date: 2000-09-01

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