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The Banality of Heidegger$
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Jean-Luc Nancy

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780823275922

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.5422/fordham/9780823275922.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FORDHAM SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.fordham.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Fordham University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FSO for personal use.date: 19 September 2021



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The Banality of Heidegger

Jean-Luc Nancy

Jeff Fort

Fordham University Press

Heidegger’s thought absorbed the lesson of a very ancient history: any true beginning always fails to be such, to truly begin, and must struggle to reinstantiate itself without going astray or breaking down. The thinking of the beginning is thus burdened with a banal metaphysical doxa of authenticity, originarity and properness. Christianity has an important role to play in the history of this thinking, as it is marked by the will to constitute a new beginning. Heidegger attempted to think another beginning that would be simultaneously in the image and in the place of the other beginning that Christianity wanted to constitute. Christianity’s rejection and exclusion of Jews and Judaism, as something that would compromise the former’s own claim to initiality, is part of a long history in which the West has made the Jew a figure to which it agressively turns to denounce at points of crisis. One such point occurred in Heidegger’s own time, and Heidegger, like so many in that time, absorbed the banalities of anti-Jewish messages. This banality does not lessen the gravity of Heidegger’s faults, on the contrary it aggravates them. It also demands that we interrogate the broader dimensions of these problems, that we lay bare the roots of anti-Semitism, that we investigate the sacrifical thinking which grounds so much political and social violence, that we break with a model given by this history in which progress is identified with the human conquest of the world, and that we withdraw from being any name and any demand for a destination. We must learn to live without being and without destination.

Keywords:   anti-Semitism, banality, beginning, being, Christianity, destination

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