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Article

Философская ясность: Хайдеггер равно Гитлер

Логос. 2018. Т. 28. № 3. С. 91-120.

Publications over the last fifteen years, including Heidegger’s so-called Black Notebooks, his lectures and seminars from 1933–1935, and letters to his brother necessitate a reappraisal of the “Heidegger case.” New clarity has been reached regarding the significance of the “political” for his philosophy, his place in the intellectual avantgarde of the National-Socialist movement and, finally, the meaning of his “confession” of historical error. The remaining ambiguities persist due to the radical difference between the usual conception of a normal political reality that is shared by his critics and defenders alike and the style of thinking which was typical for that earlier historical period. Our accustomed static interpretation of events with its focus on the formal, ideological, or institutional elements of a normal political process must be distinguished from a dynamic interpretation of the “political.” Interest in Heidegger’s legacy is warranted because he provides his readers with a logic of “proper language” which opens a path to self-knowledge. The price to be paid for this benefit is that readers lose the distinction between their own language and Heidegger’s. Heidegger committed a similar error himself when he was negligent about distinguishing his language from Hitler’s. The conceptual convergence of Heidegger and Hitler serves as a warning about the danger in the kind of salvation Heidegger’s language provides to his readers in their pursuit of self-knowledge. The claim that in some respects “Heidegger equals Hitler” is not equivalent to the simple fallacy of a reductio ad Hitlerum. Further clarification of the relationship between thought and tyranny requires a return to classical political philosophy with its distinction between “proper language” and “common language” and to a tragic conception of truth derived from instances of peripeteia in which binary oppositions are reversed.