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Preface

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No Western philosopher since Socrates has attracted such varied, often totally opposed, views as Heidegger. In a popular history of philosophy by Bertrand Russell, the entry on Heidegger comprises only one short paragraph. The first line reads: “Highly eccentric in its terminology, his philosophy is extremely obscure. One cannot help suspecting that language is here running riot” (1989: 303). The analytic philosopher A. J. Ayer once accused him of charlatanism (1984: 228); Roger Scruton, a contemporary conservative British philosopher, described Heidegger's most important work Being and Time as “formidably difficult – unless it is utter nonsense, in which case it is laughably easy” (2001: 270). Against these dismissals, the American philosopher Richard Rorty (1981: 5) rates Heidegger as one of the three most important philosophers of the twentieth century, along with John Dewey and Wittgenstein.

Heidegger also, frequently, has been damned both as a man and as a thinker for his brief but enthusiastic support of the Nazis. This was symbolized by his acceptance of the post of rector of Freiburg University in 1933, where he proved a passionate advocate of subordinating the university to the new Nazi regime. Although he resigned the rectorship after only a year, and became increasingly critical of the direction taken by the Nazi party, he never uttered a full apology for his support of National Socialism, nor admitted guilt for having done so, during the thirty-one years he lived after 1945.

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Publisher: Acumen Publishing
Print publication year: 2011

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  • Preface
  • Michael Watts
  • Book: The Philosophy of Heidegger
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652655.001
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  • Preface
  • Michael Watts
  • Book: The Philosophy of Heidegger
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652655.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Michael Watts
  • Book: The Philosophy of Heidegger
  • Online publication: 05 February 2013
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/UPO9781844652655.001
Available formats
×