The Nazi Heidegger and his French enablers

17Feb14

This is interesting, from Robert Zaretsky’s article on Heidegger’s “Black Notebooks”:

Yet, it was the hand offered by the French philosopher Jean Beaufret that pulled Heidegger from the professional exile imposed by the Freiburg committee. Shortly after Jean-Paul Sartre, whose own thought was inspired by Heidegger’s work, gave his celebrated public talk “Existentialism is a Humanism,” Beaufret contacted Heidegger for his reaction. While Heidegger replied that Sartre had completely misunderstood his writings, this was less important than the public’s misunderstanding of Beaufret’s motivations. As the Heidegger scholar Richard Wolin notes, Beaufret, who had fought with the Resistance, soon gravitated towards the dark planet of Holocaust denial. In a letter he wrote to the notorious negationist Robert Faurisson, Beaufret reassured him that he, like Faurisson, had “traveled the same path” and had been “considered suspect for having expressed the same doubts” about the gas chambers.

In the same letter, Beaufret congratulated himself for having shared his views with Faurisson, and never committing them to paper. The same cannot be said for his work on behalf of Heidegger: Beaufret morphed into a veritable public relations firm for the Nazi thinker, serving as his privileged interlocutor and interpreter in France. While Sartre soon distanced himself from Heidegger’s writings, other and younger postwar intellectuals like Louis Althusser and Michel Foucault were drawn to them; they became the darling of self-described revolutionaries on the left rather than reactionaries on the right. For good reason, Heidegger chuckled that when the French talk philosophy, they think in German.

See also: Pierre Joris: “Heidegger, France, Politics, the University (1997); Gregory Fried: A Letter to Emmanuel Faye (2011).

Previously: Anti-imperialist Holocaust deniers in France; Ultra-gauche FaurissonistsGilles Dauvé and negationism



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