The Banality of Heidegger

The Banality of Heidegger

Jean-Luc Nancy

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780823275922

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

Jean-Luc Nancy provides an analysis of the anti-Semitic aspects of Heidegger’s recently published Black Notebooks. Referring to Hannah Arendt’s notion of the “banality of evil,” Nancy offers an analysis of the philosophical or “historial” anti-Semitism found in the Black Notebooks. He notes especially that this anti-Semitism is marked by the “banality” of ordinary anti-Semitism pervading Europe. He does this by linking Heidegger’s remarks to the well-known anti-Semitic forgery, The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, whose terms are strikingly similar. Heidegger’s thought is also placed in the broader context of Western thought and culture, particularly in relation to the notion of a “decline” and to the sense of crisis pervading Europe in the first half of the twentieth century, to which anti-Semitism was a frequent response. Nancy critiques Heidegger’s continual evocation of a “beginning,” to be found solely in Greek thought, that has been covered over but whose destiny must be renewed in “another beginning,” and he links this to the impulse in European thought, and especially in Christianity, toward ever more initial foundations of “self.” The rejection of Judaism by Christianity, in its very foundation, is compared with Heidegger’s insistence on “another beginning.” Nancy finds in this complex ensemble a hatred of self at the heart of the West.