Chapter

– Against: Polemical Politics

Stuart Elden

in Speaking Against Number

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print December 2005 | ISBN: 9780748619818
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652518 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748619818.003.0002
– Against: Polemical Politics

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This chapter analyses the material in which Heidegger works out the implications of the tensions in his thinking of political community. Beginning with a reading of Heidegger's work on truth, it shows how he moved to an understanding of politics as polemos, as struggle, Kampf, and as war, Krieg, orientating himself and the German Volk in terms of a position against. Reading Heidegger shows how he was very much a novice in political theorisation, and how his explicit political involvement was founded on his deeply problematic sense of just what politics was. This is particularly pursued through an examination of two lecture courses he gave under the title of The Essence of Truth, from 1931–32 and 1933–34. Taking Heidegger's 1935 assertion of ‘the inner truth and greatness of National Socialism’ as its themes, the chapter shows how a particular reading of Plato's myth of the cave in the Republic led him to a view of what the role of the philosopher actually was. If Heidegger's violent interpretation of politics as struggle is difficult to see as separate from Hitlerian and Schmittian conceptions of the political, immediately following the resignation things begin to get much more complicated. The second half of the chapter examines a lecture course on language and the Volk, along with material on Hölderlin, which demonstrates the equivocal position Heidegger was now in. While on the one hand the deeply problematic claims remain, on the other we find him struggling to break free from at least some aspects, as an attempt to think through the problems of his grasp of the political.

Keywords: Heidegger; political community; polemos; Kampf; Krieg; Vok; Plato; Republic

Chapter.  18762 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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