Ralph Brave “Being Martin Heidegger”
ハイデガーの『形而上学入門』の英訳者Richard Polt氏へのインタヴュー。Polt氏は”representative of a new generation of Heidegger scholars, a group that has unflinchingly looked at the evidence of Heidegger's affiliations with German fascism, fully investigated the ways in which his thought might have led to such a disastrous political regime and yet still found reasons to value the meditations of this provincial German”だという。ハイデガーといえば、やはりどうしても〈ナチス〉ということになるが、それ以外にも興味深い話はかなりある。
Polt氏によると、最初にハイデガーを読んだとき、”very refreshing”であると感じた。それは何故かというと、”he seemed to articulate problems that I had dimly perceived in previous philosophers that I had read, none of whom had really satisfied me. They all seemed to be missing something. And Heidegger put words on that.”だからである。「それ（that）」というのは、
That truth can't be grasped in an abstract, universal way without taking into account that we are concrete human beings living in a particular time and place. Heidegger tried to show that our particularity is not an obstacle to truth but in fact it's what makes truth possible. There's no truth apart from that. It seems to me that he does that without just falling into relativism. So I found that very appealing.
Heidegger's basic problem is the question of "Being": How is it that we're able to understand what it means for anything to be? So when a philosopher like Descartes declares, "I think, therefore I am," Heidegger wants to ask, What is this "am-ness"? Or when any of us say that something "is" -- whether it's a molecule, a man or the planet Mars -- what do we mean by "is," and how does it come to pass that "is" means anything to us at all? Heidegger's answer is that we understand Being because we live in time -- we belong to a past and we anticipate a future. So without time and history, things couldn't be present or revealed to us at all. Their Being would have no meaning.
As it turned out, what he really wanted was something much more revolutionary than Nazism. The Nazis were not radical enough because they weren't provoking the German people to a confrontation with Being. As the '30s wear on, he becomes more and more disillusioned with the Nazis and comes to see them as just another product of modern metaphysics. I think he genuinely supported the movement, though probably from the very beginning he was not a standard Nazi. He was a card-carrying Nazi, but not just another average party member.
Now when I say he left the door open without forcing anybody who's Heideggerian to become a fascist, what I mean is that you could accept his view that everyday existence is inauthentic and yet still reject authoritarian tyranny.
Everyday life for Heidegger is absorbed with particular things, in particular projects, without standing back, as it were, to explicitly choose those projects. He says we do not choose to choose in everyday life. Authenticity would involve choosing to choose -- in other words, being really self-aware and free in what one is pursuing. In that sense authenticity would be more disclosive and more illuminating about the human condition.
“What element of Heidegger do you think America needs?”という質問に対しては、
Science and technology have a leading role in our culture. They're often seen as the arbiters of truth. One of Heidegger's main points is that science and technology are built upon something that cannot be understood in scientific or technological terms. Poetry and art, for instance, might be ways of reaching that deeper truth, that experience of the world that is pre-scientific. Often we in America don't know what to do with poetry and art. For us they're just entertainment or relaxation. What if there were a deeper truth? Maybe there's a strain of American culture that longs for that.
He was definitely interested in Buddhism and Taoism. It's also true that his thought found resonance in Japan. He gets a lot of attention in Japan. What a lot of Japanese say is that there is connection between Buddhism's notion of emptiness and some Heideggerian notions of nothingness or unconcealment. We do need to be a bit skeptical about this, though. There is one passage in the "Contributions to Philosophy," which were written by Heidegger between 1936 and 1938, in which he simply makes the remark, "Not Buddhism. The very opposite." What he means by that I don't know, except that I think he probably had in mind that Buddhism seems to try to release us altogether from existence, from the body, whereas Heidegger wants a more engaged dwelling or involvement in existence. Now it might be that that's a misinterpretation of Buddhism, and of course there are many different strands of Buddhism. But that's why I think that he might have been reluctant to say that he was a Western Buddha.
Heidegger did not want to go back to the Judeo-Christian God. He thought that that God had been appropriated by metaphysics, and that metaphysics and that God had died together. But there is the possibility of the coming of a new god or gods -- what he calls, in the "Contributions to Philosophy," "the passing by of the last god." It's a very mysterious notion. Quite a bit of ink has been spilled on it, but nobody really knows what it means. Heidegger was inspired largely by the poet Friedrich Hölderlin, who tried to invite the gods to return to us. There are ways of interpreting this that try to bring it down to earth. Hubert Dreyfus, for example, sees it as a turning point in our culture. He says that Woodstock might have been an example of a Heideggerian god. But that sounds too human to me, all too intelligible. It's clear that he wants some kind of radical turning, some cataclysmic event that this god would have the power to bring about. More than that is hard to say.
“Some wonder, Why shouldn't Americans simply stay with Emerson and William James for their readings and contemplations and avoid all the bother with Heidegger?”という質問に対しては、
But I think it would be legitimate to try to use him in ecological thinking. Especially his views on technology, which are that technology is one mode in which things as a whole are revealed to us. They're revealed to us as useful and manipulable resources. And he wants to alert us to the fact that that is not the only possible interpretation of things -- that beneath that interpretation there is what he calls "earth," which is a dimension of things that can never be fully interpreted or fully used up or fully understood by the human being. It's a mysterious dimension. So the kind of ecological thinking that tries to get us to respect the mystery of wilderness is something that is very close to the spirit of Heidegger. The kind of ecological thinking that goes about trying to manage resources wisely so that we don't destroy potential cures for cancer -- that's still thinking technologically, in other words, still seeing natural resources as objects.
First off, I think Americans should read more Emerson and James and Thoreau than they do. Most American philosophy departments are not doing American philosophy. They're doing British philosophy and the sort of German philosophy that is mathematical, such as Gottlob Frege. So maybe we should first read Emerson and then maybe turn to Heidegger. As a matter of fact, he would probably recommend that we do so because he might say, "I'm not your philosopher. I'm a German philosopher. I'm speaking to Germans primarily. If you degenerate Americans have anyone who's worth reading, you should read that person." But because of the breadth and depth of Heidegger's thought, he's not just a German philosopher. He does have things to say that are relevant to all human beings. One of the benefits that comes from studying Heidegger is a deeper sense of the sweep of Western intellectual history, the history of Western philosophy in full, which you don't always get in someone like Emerson. Maybe we should read American philosophers and then read Heidegger and then try to understand what is distinctively American in the context of Western thought in general.
Indeed, Heidegger thrives. Each year sees more of his work translated into English and other languages around the globe. Each year seems to find some new group proclaiming a new way to apply Heidegger's philosophy to its practical tasks. Nurses, environmental activists and even salesmen are now being urged to "authentically" relate to their clients, their work and the world, a quintessentially Heideggerian notion. Presidential candidate Ralph Nadar quoted the philosopher at a rally the day before the election, echoing Heidegger's sentiment that the "basic fact about human beings is that we care about one another."