Guardian writer in ‘Philosophical Dickery’ shock

January 20, 2010

The Guardian often makes me angry, but never more so than when it talks about my second love, philosophy. And now one of their CiF twats have posted an article about how Heidegger was so beastly that all his books should be put on the shelf alongside Mein Kampf.

It’s clear that the author has not read Being & Time, otherwise he’d realise the ridiculousness of comparing an extended essay on ontology to Mein Kampf. One would hope that before writing an article demanding the recategorisation of a philosopher one would’ve at least read his work, and understand the relationship it bears to his mentor Husserl, and as part of an evolution of philosophical ideas leading back to Kant.

To give a brief explanation of at least the first part of B&T:

Following Kant, Heidegger argues that the way in which we encounter the world is partly determined by ourselves, so it’s impossible to encounter the world objectively. Rather, we encounter the world through a matrix of our own projects, seeing objects not as simply objects but rather how they stand in relationship to our goals.

It is easy to see how it could be possible to interpret Heidegger, following this, as claiming that we can only see other people as means to ends, but this would be to ignore the context of this part of his work.

He’s talking about hammers.

Not people.

The whole point of Being & Time is that it’s a work of philosophy that pays regard to relationship an individual has with their own existence, meaning that other people are not actually under discussion. It’s not a political book – indeed, it can’t be a political book, as politics is something you do once you know in what relationship you stand to the world. Claiming that Being & Time is a work that inevitably leads to Nazism is equivalent to claiming that praying inevitably leads to crusades. Certainly one could argue for a relationship, but banning praying because of crusades seems a little silly – although, of course, some people want to do that. I call them Nazis.

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One Response to “Guardian writer in ‘Philosophical Dickery’ shock”

  1. A.H. Gillett said

    This comment from a CiFer did make me chuckle, not that I entirely agree:

    ‘His Being is Time & his belief that life is effectively a long wait for death just seems like a very long sermon from a particularly miserable Church of Scotland Minister’

    Possibly the only CiF comment I’ve read in a month that hasn’t:

    A.) Said that there was no point in representative democracy, claiming that it has to be ‘direct or nothing’, with no room for minority rights.

    B.) Made some whinging, hand-wringing remark about Israel

    C.) Made me want to shoot somebody.

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