Freiburg Ditches “Heidegger” Chair (2 updates)


The University of Freiburg, the academic home of Günter Figal—who recently stepped down from the leadership of the Martin Heidegger Society in the wake of the publication of Heidegger’s Black Notebooks—has decided to convert the faculty chair long dedicated to the Heideggerian tradition to one dedicated to philosophy of language. It has also downgraded the line from a full professorship to the equivalent of an assistant professorship. Figal now holds the position, but will be retiring soon, as he has reached the mandatory retirement age in Germany. At the moment, as far as I know, there is no official explanation for the decision, but there has been speculation that the university is attempting to distance itself from Heidegger and his anti-semitism. Those who read German can read more about these developments here and here. Feel free to pass along translations of any passages that provide further helpful information.

UPDATE (3/5/15): Three items:

(1) There is an audio interview here with Sebastian Rödl (Leipzig) on the matter (in German). I am told that he voices support for Freiburg keeping the Heidegger chair. (2) Volker Gerhardt (Humboldt) has written an open letter to the president of the University of Freiburg, urging him to reconsider the decision. (3)  Markus Gabriel (Bonn) will be starting an online petition to keep the chair. In an email announcement, he writes:

Needless to say: so far no one engaged in building up a critical opposition to these ridiculous plans is interested in defending Heidegger, but we all think that it is particularly important now to engage in historical and critical analysis of his work in light of the recent publication of the Black Notebooks. At least equally important: Giving up this chair means destroying Husserl’s heritage in Freiburg.There will soon be an online petition against this decision that will be made available to the ministry of science and education in the state of Baden-Würrttemberg which is able to change these plans that threaten to make the philosophy department in Freiburg irrelevant for the global context in which we are all working. Please feel free to share this information. Publicity is the best chance of saving the tradition of phenomenology and hermeneutics in Freiburg which made it famous. Instead of giving up on its entire department structure on the level of chairs in philosophy (which in the German context means: serious research positions), the demand will be to open up an international search for the best qualified candidate in phenomenology/hermeneutics with the requisite abilities to lead a team that will critically investigate Heidegger from a historically and philosophically informed point of view.

UPDATE (3/9/15): The petition mentioned in the previous update can be found here.

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