Germany’s Heidegger Society Chair Resigns (updated)


Günter Figal (Freiburg) resigned his position this past Thursday as chair of the Martin Heidegger Society in the wake of the publication of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks (Schwarze Hefte), which many believe show that Heidegger’s antisemitism was more central to his thinking than previously thought. Figal, who had held the position since 2003, is reported to have said in a radio broadcast:

As chairman of a society, which is named after a person, one is in certain way a representative of that person. After reading the Schwarze Hefte, especially the antisemitic passages, I do not wish to be such a representative any longer. These statements have not only shocked me, but have turned me around to such an extent that it has become difficult to be a co-representative of this.

Figal also called for the heirs of Heidegger to finally open up the Heidegger archives, so that an inquiry can shed more light on these matters. Apparently, the heirs are blocking access to thousands of pages in the archives. The story is reported (in German) here. I thank Godehard Brüntrup for the pointer to this article, translation, and additional information about the story.

UPDATE (1/21/15): The radio interview with Professor Figal (in German) is here.

Via Philos-L, Andrew Inkpin writes:
In the interview, as one might expect, Figal is a little more differentiated in what he says. He cites… a couple of antisemitic passages (15:30) from the Schwarze Hefte as a key factor in his resignation as chair of the Heidegger Gesellschaft. He particularly criticizes: (i) a comment from the late 30s/early 40s in which Heidegger comments on the “released immigrants who are now working against Germany”; (ii)a comment about Husserl, where Heidegger wrote that “Husserl, as a Jew, got no further in his thinking”. Figal comments that this is unworthy (unwürdig) of a philosopher, “that’s not how philosophers think” (so denkt man nicht, wenn man Philosophie treibt). – Figal also emphasizes the difference between Heidegger’s earlier work (i.e. up to an including Being and Time) and the mid-1930s, when the comments in question from the Black Books were written. Figal also states that prior to their publication he had no idea of the content of the Black Books and that it came as a “complete surprise” to him (17:15).

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