Donatella di Cesare finds “self-annihilation” in three notes from Heidegger’s Annotations, in her Heidegger and the Jews (pp. 199-202), a title which expresses opportunistic conjunction worthy of charlatan Peter Trawny (whom I’ve discussed). There’s no overtone of Jewish self-annihilation in Heidegger’s three notes. Her apparent “Heidegger” can’t be validly derived from those three notes.
I’ll provide a detailed examination of the notes, after some brief context.
Discussion below is divided into three sections:
- 1 | a short background note: contexts of Considerations
- 2 | an analysis of the three notes in Annotations that di Cesare finds incriminating
- 3 | thinking beyond being subjected to transcendental subjecting
1 | contexts of Considerations
Of course, Heidegger’s supplementary Annotations follow his Considerations which are frequently concerned with the phoniness of academic (German-Christian) historiology, prior to the war years. When Heidegger was developing his analyses for Mindfulness (and other works), mid-to-later 1930s, there was not yet any school of Critical Theory. But no matter, because the Dialectical paradigm (which the first-generation Frankfurt School would seek to advance for critique of ideology) was part of the ultimately self-defeating character of metaphysicalism which Heidegger was prospecting in his notebooks—workbooks, not diaries!—during the 1930s. His prospecting of a critique of German ideology sought a post-Dialectical approach. That’s what Mindfulness became.
Heidegger’s Considerations involve linguistic phenomenological articulation of what German ideology is, i.e., linguisticality as focus: what They say—which is why so much of Heidegger’s note-making includes terms in quote marks. Phenomenology, like investi-gative journalism (but at a meta-terminological and conceptual level), is not about avowing one’s affinities. But investigation is about constructive engagement in formation of bases for critical thinking.
The three passages by Heidegger pertain to distortions of Christianity, due to its distorting history of thinking. That, for Heidegger, is about academic ideology (onto-theology), not in any sense about Judaism itself (which I’ll show)—nor about authentic Christianity.
2 | Three annotations
I regard the three notes as one because they are apparently adjacent in Annotations.
(I’m relying on the translation of Heidegger into English from German in the English version of di Cesare’s Italian text.) I’ll quote all three notes entirely, but gradually, for the sake of comment.
Heidegger: ...everything that is anti-[ ]must derive from the same essential foundation...
Me: Everything anti that is relevant here belongs together in the Same, by necessarily shared derivation. A dynamic of shared derivation is framed, not just set-like membership of all relevant anti-ness. [I’ll not indicate “Me:” at new paragraphs that comment. All quotation of Heidegger is indicated as that one paragraph preceded by “H:”.]
H: ...from which what it [...anti-] is the opposite of derives.
—the Same from which the pro- (“the opposite”), too, derives. A dynamic of shared derivation is noted, but anti- is relative to what’s pro-. That’s obviously a comment about Dialectical eventing (which is to be critiqued). It’s not a subscription to a Dialectical understanding of events. Likewise,...
H: The Antichrist...must derive from the same essential foundation...—hence, from that from which “the Christ” derives.
Referring, in quote marks, to “...‘the Christ’...” (I’m quoting something in quote marks by Heidegger) is different than making an assertion about Christ. Quote marks there frame a so-to-speak sense (or what-they-say sense) of what’s in quote marks, congruent with Heidegger’s common practice earlier in Considerations and his longstanding concern about “They self” and “idle chatter,” since at least Being and Time (but earlier, since critique of given notions is integral to the motives of modern philosophy, particularly for phenomenology’s framing of “natural” [common sense] attitudes). I’ll call such critical framing simulacral. Terms within Heidegger’s single quote marks are regarded by him phenomenologically (terms in question) and, for critique, as simulacral.
This difference is easy to show throughout his notebooks.
The notion of the Christic—the Christ (without quote marks)—is theological, not the same as the believer notion of Jesus as the Christ, which traces back to Judaic desire for a messiah. Messianic fulfillment is exemplified by the life. Theologization of that is another matter. When Christians refer to Jesus Christ, they are presuming a notion of actualized messiah or arrived presence that originates from Jewish desire. Christians regard Jesus as fulfilling Judaic expectation of a messiah.
But Heidegger isn’t referring to the authentic notion of the Christ. He’s referring to the so-called “Christ,” i.e., common sense notions about Christ (about the Christic). The Antichrist (no quote marks) derives from the same essential foundation as “...‘the Christ’...” —a simulacrality—is derived.
H: And “the Christ” derives from the jewry.
The English translator writes, for ‘Judenschaft’, “the community of the Jews,” but the German term is commonly translated as ‘Jewry’.
The notion of Christ derives from the Jewish beginning of Christianity. Let not Germans forget that. So, too, would the simulacrality (“...‘the Christ’...”) derive from that history (albeit adulterated).
I’m wringing a lot from Heidegger’s short assertion, by interpolating; but I’m only anticipating what is upcoming in Heidegger’s own passage: a clear distinction between jewry and simulacral sense of that, “...‘jewry’....” But that’s supplemental!: His focus is the self-destructiveness of the Dialectic in German ideology:
H: This is, in the time of the Christian West, that is, of metaphysics, the principle of destruction.
“This”: the Dialectical relativity of the Antichrist vis-à-vis simulacrality (“...‘the Christ’...”). It derives from destructive metaphysics, which is clearly for Heidegger—clear from his general work—an onto-theology of power. The Dialectic of the simulacral and its co-dependent negation of itself is a principle of destruction. (I would argue, apart from Heidegger but congruent with his thinking, that theologization of Jesus—neo-Platonic/Plotinian framing—was the original concealment of his humanistic teaching. Jesus never declared himself to be the anticipated messiah; and never theologized his teaching.)
H: And this is what is destructive, because it overturns the consummation of metaphysics—that is, of the metaphysics of Hegel, via Marx.
With regard to the German tradition of philosophy (not Christianity itself, not Judaism), Dialectical co-dependence of Antichrist on “the Christ” annihilates the foundation of the Christian West: Economy, organization, and nature become functions of distorted “life”:
H: Spirit and culture become the superstructure of “life”—that is, of the economy, of organization—that is, of the biological—of the “people.” Only when what is essentially “jewish,” in the metaphysical sense...
This would be a simulacrality of jewry—an essentiality that is destructively metaphysical—theology itself?: Judaism itself, by the way, isn’t based on a theological conception of Yahwah. (And the Jesus movement itself was not based on a theologization of Jesus.) In Catholicism, a neo-Platonic or Plotinian conception of God is mapped into the Judaic conception of Yahwah. Theology is a Christian invention. (Jewish scholars who think theologically are importing an ideologized Hellenic way of thinking.)
A theology can be authentic. (Heidegger’s 1929 lecture on “Phenomenology and Theology" is not anti-theological!). An authentic theology would be post-neoPlatonic. The “metaphysical sense” of ‘jewish’ would be a neo-Platonic/Plotinian diminishment, correlate with a simulacrality of the notion of Christ, which echoes the metaphyscialism of dogmatic theology. A co-dependent negation of theological self-identity (simulacrally displaced as “jewish”) is, ultimately, a struggle with one’s own sense of there being God (which neo-Platonism confounds).
H: Only when what is essentially “jewish,” in the metaphysical sense, struggles against what is jewish...
Destructive simulacrality struggles against itself, as Dialectical thinking does, rather than something else (conceiving a “belonging together in the Same”?: the keynote of Heidegger’s lecture, “The Principle of Identity,” seven-or-so years later).
H: ...is [, then,] the apex of self-annihilation in history reached.
The Christian West of metaphysics (onto-theology of power) annihilates itself—mirrored by culminative obsession with what’s “...‘jewish’...” That is a pathology:
H: The condition is that what is “jewish” has everywhere completely taken over domination.
Surely, this could be translated better as: The condition of what is “jewish” has become completely dominate. That is, the self-annihilating obsession lodges itself (displaces itself, escapes itself) in the mirror of obsession struggling against its own derivations, blind to how the Dialectic leads to obsession with the negated Object. Simulacrality of Christ as “the Christ” is reflected as simulacral obsession with “what is ‘jewish’.”
H: ...so that even the struggle...against what is “jewish”...
Not: the struggle against being jewish, rather against “what is ‘jewish’...”
H: ...so that even the struggle—and that first and foremost—against what is “jewish” becomes subjected to that.
“that”: the obsession with “what is ‘jewish’” (which, I would argue, with Heidegger, reflects Christian struggle with itself). In other words: Struggling against the obsession with the simulacrality becomes subjected to the obsession.
By the way, my reading above—that Heidegger is involved with critique of metaphysicalized Dialectics— is strongly evidenced by Heidegger in a passage from Considerations where some intellectual historians worry about referring to world jewry.
H: It is from here [i.e., the culminative self-destructiveness of the Dialectic] that it should be evaluated what it means, for thought, to remember, in the initial essence of the West, that first beginning in Greekness, which has remained outside of Judaism and Christianity.
I want to extrapolate from that, relative to the therapeutic motives of Heidegger’s career. (I could argue in detail that his motives were therapeutic, in the spirit of the lineage from Socrates to Wittgenstein—and echoing the fact that Heidegger made Being and Time the topic of a seminar only once: with a group of psychiatrists): There is potential in the depths of pathology (racialized ne0-Platonism) for recovery and health (“Second Beginning”), but only if one truly understands the disease (of self-destructive thinking that dominates lives), in order to truly find and effectively apply the cure (through taking to heart the potential of one’s existence) by new generations. That is the way of medicine: prevention before need for repair. That is the way of psychotherapy: good individuation before need for therapy. And that is the way of education (Heidegger’s calling): preventing presumptiveness, delusion, and obsession through higher education—otherwise calling for dissolution of delusion, etc., through enlightenment (thinking) which unconceals (performing a therapeutic for) one’s potential for openness.
Catholic doctrine unconsciously called for a post-Hegelian (non-Marxist—post-metaphysicalist) critique of ideology (onto-theological thinking) which Heidegger sought to develop. One cannot understand issues of anti-Semitism in Europe outside of understanding the misappropriation of Christianity by Catholic doctrine.
Heidegger’s notebooks give far, far more attention to his animus toward German Catholicism than he does to articulating German (Catholic) ideology about Judaism.
Interesting would be to read Heidegger’s end-of-war Annotations relative to Country Path Conversations.
German Catholic support for the German political response to the Depression—which appeased the diseased scapegoating that is Nazi ideology—was “warranted” (not) by academicism’s vapid historiology that Heidegger critically framed in Considerations: ultimately cynical (nihilistic) metaphysicalism.
Actually, that follows the politicization of nihilism which was WW-I itself, which turned out to be merely Part 1 of the “Great” War, whose inner truth was to cause more unfathomable tragedy. WW-I was willfully forgotten during the 1920s by a new generation living in a perpetual present-centeredness, but the times were destining more-unfathomable tragedy (WW-II), which became more unfathomably dangerous during the M.A.D. years of the Cold War.
Heidegger left us a massive archive of lectures and essays on how to think with utmost rigor in ways that may evince primordially new beginning. But he claimed no foundational basis as “precursor.” There is no such thing as “Heidegger’s philosophy.” “The end of philosophy and the task of thinking” was already implicit to questioning through Being and Time: about being in one’s time for the sake of actualizing our potential for authentic futures. He was ultimately one teacher trying to engage new generations to be true to our ownmost potential.
I don’t regard di Cesare’s discussion (pp. 199-202) of Heidegger’s annotations worth much comment. She’s not only blind to the difference between being jewish and Heidegger’s concern for how “what is ‘jewish’” implicates political theology, but basically mistakes Heidegger’s framing of German ideology as assertion of his beliefs (confusing critical phenomenology and confession). The degree of her misreading is embarrassing for me. My discussion above seems like adequate response, in case anyone wants to claim that di Cesare isn’t a phony reader. (If anyone wants a discussion, fine: Contact me.)
3 | thinking beyond being subjected to transcendental subjecting
The standard German practice of capitalizing nouns hides the fact that Heidegger’s focus on being is about getting beyond its transcendentalization. His lecture audiences during the era of Being and Time were supposed to face issues of their lives: being in their world. The transcendentalization of that through metaphysicalization (“Being”) was to be deconstructed.
Though Heidegger’s overt writing about a second beginning happened after the 1920s, Being and Time is obviously a venture of evincing a second beginning (prior to a deconstruction of the history of metaphysicalism), whose conceptuality became infelicitous for Heidegger. Scholars obscured his Project by confusing existential issues of being with alleged desire to capture a new transcendentalism (of “Being”).
Countless scholars still regard Being and Time (and the project of a fundamental ontology) as Heidegger’s “magnum opus.”
Questions of being have been displaced from “our” lives (in the 1920s), analogously (to my mind) with the dynamic of displacement revealed immanently in psychoanalysis, but (for Heidegger) scaled to a dynamic of European history.
How many “Believers” reconcile to incomprehensible suffering by keeping “God” outside of the world, thus perpetuating the learned helplessness of one’s times? Humanity has been plagued by projecting “God” outside of the world (thus displacing “our” responsibilities of being well—learning to be well—learning to do honest inquiry, learning to think constructively, learning to advance community).
A keynote of the Jesus movement taught that “the kingdom of heaven is within/among you/us” (as the Aramaic term for ‘within’ also was commonly used to indicate ‘among’; and ‘you’ resonates between second-person and third-person voice). This intuits the humanistic ethos of Hellenic culture, which Jesus exemplified; and which was lost in Catholic doctrine, which imported neo-Platonic/Plotinian transcendentalism: Outside the world, the “God” of logocentrism (onto-theology) frames the meaning of being Dialectically, which is destined to become nihilistic. (But trust that the gate-keeping priesthood knows best, “knows” The Meaning of sacred texts, and is glad to advise kings.)
Also integral to the Jesus movement was that all persons are created equal in the eyes of God—which includes gentiles that orthodox Judaists of Jesus’s time rejected for a reformed Judaism, thus eventually causing the split between Christian [reformed] Judaism and non-Christian [reformed] Judaism. Time split that further: no longer as strains of reformed Judaism in Roman times (as there were several, before and after the time of Jesus). Instead within Christianity, there was Christian Judaism and non-Christian Judaism.
For the Jesus movement, God-in-the-world became catholic (in the generic sense), which did not entail a messianic politics. Authentic Christianity appropriated Judaism as integral to itself, then moved on to, at best, advance a catholic ecumenicism relative to the example of Jesus. But conflict with Rome did call for messianic (revolutionary) politics. This became a history of overt opposition to empire, constructive engagement with empire, overt collusion, covert opposition, no constructive engagement, covert collusion, etc. for 1.5 millennia.
To regard non-Christian faith as not Christian is regressive, risking contra-tribalization that indeed happened especially in populist periods, feeding ill-educated ethnicity, which easily becomes xenophobic; inviting paternalist subjection of oneself politically as subjecting others; and/or identifying with political subjection of ethnic Others (pathogenic Othering).
The Westernist transcendentalization of that through metaphysicalization (“Being” or searching for one’s heartfulness to be originating outside of the world) was to be deconstructed. Heidegger’s listeners/readers were to be emancipated from otherworldly logocentrism, through engagement with being on one’s way to how “truth will set you free,” for the sake of actualizing one’s authentic potential for being—especially inasmuch as therebeing is withbeing (“Dasein ist Mitsein”), “belonging together in the Same.”
Post-war times called for post-nihilistic new beginnings, especially relative to new generations, deserving to grow up oriented by potential futures, not relative to prosecuting dictatorship. Writing the past only makes sense relative to a clear sense of futures and potentials worth living for. (By the way, if Heidegger were alive today, he would love the professional senses of positive psychology.)
His annotations must have seemed irrelevant to life in the 1950s and ‘60s. It was no matter of simple-minded suppression. It was a matter of making futures.
I’ve read that, when Heidegger saw a copy of the Moon-based photo of the beautiful Earth in the black vacuum (now iconic), he was frightened (bottom of p.145 here). Perhaps he was feeling—as we all should feel—that Heaven is to be made here, or else
it will be nowhere.
So, good faith reading of Heidegger’s texts has become easy for me (though this discussion—occasioned by an upcoming lecture that is now past—is probably not expressed clearly enough). If one objects that good faith reading is no more evidential than what is claimed against critical reading that I call bad faith reading (symptomatic reading), then I would avow confidence that reading in good faith is superior to reading in bad faith, given no clear decidability. Benefit of the doubt is part of a genuine ethic of reading. If that involves preferring the fiction that grants integrity to others (again, given no clear decidability) over the reading that derives from a group-think approach to scholarship which has become obsessed with suspicion, I have no problem with that.
But I’d go further to argue that good faith reading of Heidegger is far more evidentially credible (relative to his deliberative work) than what has become common “scholarship” about his life, which trades in ill-thought, opportunistic suspician.
This discussion continues an interest in some of Heidegger’s considerations of German ideology, which is part of my project on “surviving nazism.”