Martin Heidegger’s sympathies for the conservative revolution and National Socialism have long been well known. As the rector of the University of Freiburg in the early 1930s, he worked hard to reshape the university in accordance with National Socialist policies. He also engaged in an all-out struggle to become the movement’s philosophical preceptor, “to lead the leader.” Yet for years, Heidegger’s defenders have tried to separate his political beliefs from his philosophical doctrines. They argued, in effect, that he was good at philosophy but bad at politics. But with the 2014 publication of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks, it has become clear that he embraced a far more radical vision of the conservative revolution than previously suspected. His dissatisfaction with National Socialism, it turns out, was mainly that it did not go far enough. The notebooks show that far from being separated from Nazism, Heidegger’s philosophy was suffused with it.
In Heidegger in Ruins: Between Philosophy and Ideology, Richard Wolin explores what the notebooks mean for our understanding of arguably the most important philosopher of the twentieth century, and of his ideas—and why his legacy remains radically compromised. Join YIVO for a discussion with Wolin about this book led by YIVO's Executive Director Jonathan Brent.
About the Speakers
Richard Wolin is distinguished professor of history, political science, and comparative literature at the CUNY Graduate Center. He is the author of Heidegger’s Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuseand The Seduction of Unreason: The Intellectual Romance with Fascism from Nietzsche to Postmodernism.
Jonathan Brent is the Executive Director of the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research in New York City. From 1991 to 2009 he was Editorial Director and Associate Director of Yale Press. He is the founder of the world acclaimed Annals of Communism series, which he established at Yale Press in 1991. Brent is the co-author of Stalin’s Last Crime: The Plot Against the Jewish Doctors, 1948-1953(Harper-Collins, 2003) and Inside the Stalin Archives(Atlas Books, 2008). He is now working on a biography of the Soviet-Jewish writer Isaac Babel. Brent teaches history and literature at Bard College.