Rosenzweig And Heidegger 评价人数不足
读书笔记 Preface
Alexayi
One of my motives in writing this book was precisely that I wished to better understand, not succumb to, my own sense of moral discomfort. By disposition, I am suspicious of openly moralistic motivation in scholarship. (Such motivation, while always there, if left unchecked will tend to spawn scholarship in a prosecutorial spirit — in recent years a popular trend among intellectual historians.) I have tried instead to surmount my own resistance, to urge myself, even when it was most aversive, toward the recognition that there are intellectual affiliations that cut across all of the apparent divisions of political life. There is little doubt that Heidegger supported Nazism by conviction and not simply convenience. But this does not mean that one is now morally bound to read his work only for what it may tell us about his repugnant political record. One may, of course, choose to read for this purpose as well, but it is not necessarily the most important way to read, nor is it the most instructive. Contrariwise, one may read Rosenzweig’s philosophy not—as many still do—in order to affirm this or that aspect of his thought, or of Jewish identity, and so on. Rather, one may read it critically, taking cognizance of its various difficulties and even its more troublesome political ramifications. Both Rosenzweig and Heidegger deserve to be read responsibly, without undue admiration or censure. Some readers may doubtless find this argument inadequate. They may wish to know what I think about Heidegger’s politics. And they may be especially anxious to learn how this book contributes to scholarly debate concerning the possible relationship between Heidegger’s politics and his philosophy. There exists much literature on this subject which I do not propose to supplement. But before launching into the substance of the book, a few words may help to alleviate possible misunderstanding. While there are indeed scholars one might justifiably call apologists for Heidegger, I do not count myself among them. But neither am I a prosecutor who wants to find the ineradicable taint of Nazism throughout his work. There is a substantial and growing number of scholars who read Heidegger’s work so as to take from it what they find valuable, while disputing or even dismissing what they find cannot withstand critical scrutiny. This is of course what readers of philosophy and intellectual historians generally do when they read past philosophical works. And it is what I do as well. But for some scholars, when it comes to Heidegger, the usual habits of reading have a way of breaking down. They begin to condemn in toto, as if Heidegger alone represented a case of moral failure so egregious that it placed his work forever beyond the bounds of reasonable discussion. They forget that the intellectual tradition is replete with cases of political error and that the only reason one bothers to condemn is that something in the philosophy itself has first compelled one’s attention. (Today few recall the names of the zealous but second-rate academics of the Third Reich — the Platonists, the Kantians, and so on. And fewer still would now set out to prove that this scholar’s Platonism or that one’s Kantianism led ineluctably to Nazism. They do not bother, largely because no one regards their work as deserving notice.) Now I think it is fair to say that, today, responsible scholars should, and indeed do, read Heidegger with a torn conscience. In their writing, one can sometimes hear them running after counterfactuals: “Would that some other man had left us these irreplaceable thoughts.” “If only those politics were not so lamentably associated with this philosophy.” The longing is understandable, but in vain. The burden of Heidegger’s work is that it is philosophically indispensable, but for better or for worse—chiefly for worse—it was Heidegger who wrote it. However, because the comparison between Heidegger and Rosenzweig is so troublesome, a personal word of clarification seems in order. Most of my extended family succeeding in escaping Europe before the outbreak of the Second World War. A single aunt was not so fortunate. So when Heidegger makes allusion to Nazism (sometimes ambiguously, but often with unmistakable approval), I recoil as if from a personal blow. My “identity,” however, is not the most salient fact in this matter. For any reader sensitive to human dignity, Heidegger’s political record and—what is perhaps equally offensive—his later refusal explicitly to apologize for his actions, cannot but arouse a sense of unease. To read Heidegger is to find oneself in a moral quandary, split between intellectual admiration and mistrust. I have not found a way to resolve this dilemma. But I am not certain any such resolution would be beneficial. I continue to believe there is little to be gained in attempting to ferret out the “real” and political sense behind Heidegger’s philosophy, as if the philosophy could be finally and fully reduced to the politics. For what is truly remarkable about philosophy is that it seems always to resist this kind of reduction.
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