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4 The History of Philosophy: Nietzsche and the History of Ontology
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Heidegger's Nietzsche Lectures

Partly because of Heidegger's concern with the history of ontology, Heidegger was increasingly concerned with Nietzsche after 1935. Heidegger's increased interest in Nietzsche's thought is apparent in an enumeration of the historical topics Heidegger treats in his lecture courses after 1935. There is one course each on Kant, Parmenides, and Heraclitus. There are two each on Schelling and Hölderlin. But no fewer than six are devoted to Nietzsche.[82] Hence, one can infer that starting in 1935 he devoted a very large fraction of his work in the classroom to direct study of Nietzsche's thought.[83] This inference is further strengthened by inspection of Heidegger's publishing during this period, which includes several articles directly concerned with Nietzsche's thought,[84] as well as two large volumes on Nietzsche quarried by Heidegger from his lecture courses.[85]

Heidegger, of course, was not the only thinker interested in Nietzsche, who almost immediately became exceedingly influential after his death in 1900. According to David Krell, Nietzsche was a literary phenomenon whose thought was widely seen, by those who came to maturity in the First World War, as correctly predicting the ruin of Germany.[86] Peter Gay points to widespread instances of Nietzsche's literary influence during the Weimar Republic, including his impact on Aby War-burg, the founder of the Warburg Institute, who took Nietzsche, Burckhardt, and Usener as his models; the circle around the poet Stefan George, which was attracted to Nietzsche, especially in the work by Ernst Bertram, for his celebration of Hölderlin; and Thomas Mann, who admired Nietzsche as well as Wagner and Schopenhauer, each of whom influenced Buddenbrooks .[87] Others associated with the George-Kreis who wrote on Nietzsche include Ernst Gundolf and Kurt Hildebrandt.[88]

Nietzsche's philosophical impact was considerable. In 1901, Wilhelm Windelband, the neo-Kantian historian of philosophy, still thought of


him as a poet.[89] A long stream of others discussed Nietzsche as a philosopher. With Goethe, Oswald Spengler considered Nietzsche as one of his two models.[90] As early as 1902, the Kantian Hans Vahinger published a book on Nietzsche, which was followed in 1911 by a chapter in his main work.[91] In 1907, the sociologist and neo-Kantian philosopher Simmel brought out a study of Schopenhauer and Nietzsche.[92] In fact, there was so much attention to Nietzsche in the discussion at this time that one can even differentiate between cultural, life-philosophical, and existential approaches to his thought.[93] Still a fourth approach is represented by the interest in the relation of Nietzsche and Christianity.[94]

Heidegger's relation to Nietzsche is complex.[95] There are at least six ways in which Nietzsche functions in Heidegger's thought, including (1) the constitution of Heidegger's own original position; (2) Heidegger's desire to contribute to knowledge of Nietzsche's thought through collaboration on the critical edition and the interpretation of Nietzsche's position; (3) within the framework of the study of the history of ontology, as a subset of the history of the philosophical tradition; (4) in the transition from the first beginning to the other beginning through the turning in the Beiträge and other writings, hence as a link between the early fundamental ontology and the later critique of technology; (5) as part of Heidegger's defense of his claim to philosophical hegemony within the Third Reich, through the refutation of other readings of Nietzsche; and (6) in Heidegger's claimed confrontation with National Socialism.

It is easier to document the role played by Nietzsche's thought in Weimar culture and National Socialism than in the constitution and later evolution of Heidegger's position. When Nietzsche began to exert a pull on Heidegger's thought is a matter of debate. As early as 1960, Gadamer suggested that Heidegger's true predecessor in raising the problem of Being against the whole direction of the Western tradition is Nietzsche. For Gadamer, the aim of raising Nietzsche's criticism of the Platonic tradition to the level of the tradition, of confronting Western metaphysics on its own level, is already implicit in Being and Time , even if Heidegger only realized this afterward.[96] Other observers tend to place the turn to Nietzsche after the development of fundamental ontology. Although Heidegger attended Rickert's lectures on Nietzsche, for Pöggeler Nietzsche's influence on Heidegger only becomes decisive in 1929-1930.[97] Arguing against Pöggeler, Krell dates the concern with Nietzsche to Heidegger's student days in 1909-1914 and sees traces of Nietzsche's influence in Heidegger's early thought, prior to Being and Time , including the Habilitationsschrift and the subsequent venia legendi lecture.[98] Nietzsche is mentioned three times in Being and Time .[99] Taminiaux has recently used Heidegger's extensive reference to Nietz-


sche's "Second Untimely Meditation" to argue that of all those to whom Heidegger refers in this work, Nietzsche is the only earlier thinker whose position he seeks to make his own.[100]

These writers do not differ about whether Nietzsche influenced Being and Time ; rather they differ with respect to the extent of that influence. There seems to be a clear link between Nietzsche's distinction between the overman, or superman, and ordinary mortals, for instance in Beyond Good and Evil , and Heidegger's canonical distinction in Being and Time between authenticity and inauthenticity. Heidegger's increasing interest in Nietzsche's thought after Being and Time is based on his conviction of its importance for his own position. Between 1927 and 1935, when the Nietzsche lectures began, Nietzsche's influence on Heidegger's thought quickly assumes major proportions. Nietzsche is already present in an important way in Heidegger's rectoral address. Here, in his habitual rhetorical style, Heidegger asks what if Nietzsche is right that God is dead.[101] In the article on the rectorate, he insists on the significance of Jünger in providing access to Nietzsche's thought, which in turn offers the possibility to think and even to foresee the history and present of the Western world in terms of metaphysics.[102] Nietzsche's precise impact on the constitution of Heidegger's fundamental ontology is unclear; but in 1935, it is clear that Heidegger had come to see his metaphysical task as gaining a true grasp of Nietzsche and of fully developing Nietzsche's thought.[103]

This conviction underlies Heidegger's collaboration with the Nietzsche Archives in the preparation of a new version of Nietzsche's collected works and his own reading of Nietzsche's thought. According to Marion Heinz, Heidegger was already in contact with the archives in the late 1920s.[104] He became a member of the editorial board in May 1934. Along with H. J. Frank and Alfred Rosenberg, head of the Amt Rosenberg, he took part in a commission charged with publishing a critical edition of Nietzsche's work and letters. From a letter to Leutheusser dated 26 December 1942 it is clear that he was further active in the preparation of the new edition of the Will to Power (Der Wille zur Macht ). It seems that he visited the archives twice a year during the period 1936-1938 as a member of the editorial commission. It is further known that in the preparation of his lectures on Nietzsche, he consulted Karl Schlechta, the editor of Nietzsche's collected works. It is not clear what his relation to the archives was after 1939. Heidegger did not participate in the meetings in 1941. The same letter to Leutheusser indicates that he resigned from the commission. It seems that Heidegger justified his decision in terms of the dispute in 1938 between the Nietzsche Archives and the Reichsschriftumskammer , which rejected the first volume of the new edition of the collected works, from which it with-


drew its support. There is extant a notification by the office, on which Heidegger wrote by hand: "This was to be expected: afterward work in common with the commission impossible; only work for Nietzsche's works—in independence from the edition."[105]

Heidegger's interest in Nietzsche's thought continued after he ended his collaboration with the Nietzsche Archives. His attention to Nietzsche is the main example of his effort to "dialogue" with another thinker on his own level in order to bring out what the latter supposedly wanted to, but could not, say, and to carry the discussion further than the point at which it was left. This "dialogue" is carried out at enormous length over a period of years, first explicitly—out loud, so to speak—in a series of lectures and articles, and then later in silent form, after the Nietzsche lectures, in many of Heidegger's later writings. We have already noted this "dialogue" in the Nietzsche lectures given between 1936 and 1940, in the lecture course planned but not given in the academic year 1941/42, and in several articles. Significantly, Nietzsche is still prominent in Heidegger's lecture course in the first semester of the academic year 1951/ 52, when he was permitted to resume teaching.[106] But Nietzsche is not discussed explicitly in the spring semester of this same lecture course. After the early 1950s, Nietzsche recedes into the background as an explicit theme, but what Heidegger learned from this encounter continued to shape his own thought in the years ahead.

To appreciate Heidegger's discussion of Nietzsche, it is useful to contrast it with his discussion of Descartes and Kant. In theory, Heidegger's treatment of thinkers after the pre-Socratics—that is, after what he discerns as the early turn away from the original, correct approach to Being—should be negative, although in practice this is not always the case. Heidegger's treatment of prior thinkers is sometimes less strict than his simple bivalent framework requires. Heidegger himself suggests that his attitude toward the past is not simply negative. "But to bury the past in its nullity is not the purpose of this destruction; its aim is positive ; its negative function remains unexpressed and indirect."[107] The criterion for Heidegger's specific attitude seems to reside in his conviction about the utility of a given position for his own purposes.

The often positive aspect of Heidegger's reaction to other thinkers is entirely lacking in his reading of Descartes. Simply stated, Heidegger consistently treats Descartes in a wholly negative manner, as the arch-villain of the philosophical tale. His negative approach toward Descartes is already in evidence in Being and Time in the passage on the destruction of the history of ontology. Here, Heidegger argues that in the Middle Ages, Greek ontology becomes a fixed body of doctrine that is transmitted by Suarez, Descartes, and others, in basically unchanged fashion in later thought up to and including Hegel.[108] Descartes plays a


key role in the transmission of an unexamined doctrine in the form of an ontology irreconcilably different from Heidegger's own view, based on the ontological difference. "In Descartes we find the most extreme tendency toward such an ontology of the 'world,' with, indeed, a counter-orientation toward the res cogitans —which does not coincide with Dasein either ontically or ontologically."[109] A similarly negative attitude toward Descartes and Cartesian thought is maintained in later writings, for instance in Heidegger's rejection of all forms of the humanist, anthropological approach.[110]

The discussion of Kant is more complex. On a superficial level, the treatment is equally negative, as in the suggestion that, except for the omission of an ontology of Dasein, Kant merely took over the Cartesian ontology in dogmatic fashion.[111] Yet Heidegger's reading of Kant's position is finally more nuanced. Heidegger discusses the critical philosophy on four occasions in Being and Time , with respect to the concept of time, the problem of Being, the refutation of idealism, and the transcendental unity of apperception.

(1) In an early reference to temporality, Heidegger indicates that the establishment of this problematic, the task of the second division of the book, will show that Kant took over the Cartesian view dogmatically, and hence neglected the problem of Being and the analysis of Dasein. The result was that Kant's concept of the schematism did not penetrate to the central ontological problem.[112] The implicit suggestion that Kant's approach can be carried beyond Kant is worked out in Heidegger's study of the relation between the critical philosophy and metaphysics. In an obvious departure from the more usual epistemological readings, Heidegger interprets Kant's position as an incomplete effort to lay the foundation of metaphysics which, through an appropriate repetition, can be completed.[113]

(2) In a discussion of the concept of "world" in Descartes and Kant, Heidegger maintains that the latter's rejection of being as a real predicate is an uncritical restatement of the problematical Cartesian view in a manner indicative of a failure to master the basic problem of Being.[114] This same claim is formulated in a more graceful but conceptually equivalent manner in the more detailed treatment of the Kantian thesis in the parallel lecture course.[115] For Heidegger, Kant's analysis fails because it lacks an explicit theory of Dasein.[116] In a later passage, Heidegger explicitly suggests that under appropriate conditions Kant's approach can be salvaged for the problem of Being. Here, Heidegger remarks that the four theses examined in this book, including Kant's, represent aspects of a unity toward which he is striving through their examination. "The four theses formulate only externally and still covertly the systematic unity of the basic ontological problems, toward


which we are groping by way of the preparatory discussion of the theses."[117]

(3) Heidegger further analyzes Kant's Refutation of Idealism as an example of Dasein's supposed tendency to bury "the external world" before proving its existence.[118] He maintains that Kant's alleged confusions manifest Dasein's falling and resultant comprehension of the "world" as mere presence-at-hand. Although he claims that the neglect of the existential analytic of Dasein impedes the establishment of the phenomenological problematic, he concedes the partial validity of each of the various approaches to the "problem of reality.[119]

(4) Heidegger studies Kant's transcendental unity of apperception under the heading of the self. He objects to Kant's view as an ontologically inappropriate description of the self in terms appropriate for a res cogitans , as something always present-to-hand.[120] He insists against Kant that the self is not a being-in-the-world in this sense. According to Hei-degger, the self can finally only be discerned through the phenomenon of care, or the authentic potentiality for being one's self.[121]

In Being and Time , the central thread of Heidegger's treatment of Kant is the claim to carry Kant's position beyond the point at which it was left to its intended conclusion. Heidegger believes that Kant's theory lacks an analysis of Being and of Dasein, and hence fails to achieve its goal; and he further believes that his own analysis of Dasein enables us to see the critical philosophy as valuable for the problem of metaphysics. In this respect, there is a limited analogy between Heidegger's view of Kant and Sartre's view of Marx.[122] Both are concerned with the completion, through an aspect supposedly supplied by his own thought, of an important but supposedly incomplete theory. The difference is that whereas Sartre holds that Marxism is unsurpassable as the philosophy of our time, Heidegger holds only that the critical philosophy is at best an incomplete anticipation of his own.

There is a significant difference in Heidegger's treatments of Kant and Nietzsche. With respect to Kant, Heidegger points to the critical philosophy as solidly ensconced within, and, for that reason, limited by, the philosophical tradition, which it uncritically accepts. Heidegger believes that this dogmatic acceptance of the prior tradition is the reason why Kant is unable to carry out the intrinsic aims of his thought. Even if Heidegger applauds Kant's intentions, he finally rejects the critical philosophy as a whole. With respect to Nietzsche, Heidegger applauds the effort as a whole, which he does not reject. To a degree unlike that of any thinker since the pre-Socratics, Heidegger thinks of Nietzsche as anticipating in incomplete form his own thought as he later came to understand it.

There is, of course, ample precedent for the idea that a later theory


takes up the central theme of and completes an earlier position. Heidegger's relation to Nietzsche partially resembles Hegel's relation to Kant. Like Fichte and Schelling, the young Hegel accepted the intent of Kant's position as basically correct. Hegel held that there was only one system of philosophy; and he regarded the views of Fichte and Schelling as further modifications of the critical philosophy.[123] Hegel's position is an effort to develop the Kantian speculative insight in accord with the spirit, but not the letter of the Kantian philosophy.[124] Similarly, in Nietzsche Heidegger finds a concern with two basic characteristics of his own thought: the problem of Being, and the revolt against the Platonic tradition following from this problem. Just as in his own position Hegel thinks with Kant against Kant, so in his own position Heidegger thinks with Nietzsche against Nietzsche in order to complete the proposed revolt against the Platonic tradition. Now Hegel's thought literally took form in his debate with Kant and such "Kantians" as Fichte and Schelling. Despite Heidegger's awareness of Nietzsche, his original position was already in place before he entered into "dialogue" with Nietzsche. For Heidegger, Nietzsche's importance does not lie in the constitution of his own thought; it lies rather in the later evolution of the original position. In fact, it would be an exaggeration to claim that, despite Nietzsche's influence on Heidegger's thought, Heidegger was ever, even for a brief period, a true disciple of Nietzsche. As for Hölderlin and the other writers he studies, Heidegger is never a disciple in any obvious sense, and always attuned to the possibility of using another body of thought for his own.

Beyond his strict contribution to Nietzsche scholarship, or work for Nietzsche's works, Heidegger's Nietzsche discussion has a triple function in his thought: to assert his own role in German philosophy by refuting other extant readings, to contribute to his own study of the history of ontology, and further to develop his analysis of Being. Like other philosophers, Heidegger was constantly concerned with the struggle for influence in the university, especially the German academy. In the Third Reich, this struggle was circumscribed by two additional factors: the normal academic disagreements concerning Nietzsche's thought, and the relation between Nietzsche and National Socialism.

Nietzsche functioned during the Third Reich for both political and philosophical goals. Baeumler points to a parallel in the views of Nietzsche and Hitler.[125] Enge, who was the head of the Nietzsche Archives in Weimar, stated that he owed "the interpretation and evaluation of the Hitler movement to the study of Nietzschean ideas concerning blood and the decline of cultures and my own observation of social phenomena."[126] Algermissen insists on the concern of both Hitler and Mussolini with Nietzsche.[127] Mussolini published and lectured on Nietzsche, and


understood fascism as the realization of Nietzsche's thought. When he was twenty, Mussolini published an article on Nietzsche, in which he wrote: "In order to attain the ideal picked out by Nietzsche a new type of free spirit must arise, spirits which are hardened by war, and loneliness, and in great danger, spirits which will free us from love of our neighbor."[128] On 29 July 1933, his fiftieth birthday, the Nietzsche Archives sent him the following telegram:

To the most masterful son of Zarathustra, of whom Nietzsche dreamed, the genial awakener of the aristocratic values of Nietzsche's spirit, the Nietzsche Archives sends on his fiftieth birthday a telegram, in testimony, that he is faithful to the master's work and has consciously come to grips with it.[129]

And on 26 May 1934 Mussolini held a two-and-a-half-hour speech in the Italian parliament in which he took up Nietzsche's slogan from Zarathustra: "War first only makes a man, as childbearing a women.[130] Hitler also thought of his political work as the realization of Nietzsche's aims. Even before 1933, he visited Weimar often. In 1938, he paid for a temple to be erected to Nietzsche's memory. In August 1943, he sent his friend Mussolini a specially printed collection of Nietzsche's complete writings. And the Nietzsche Archives reciprocated the attention in its ceremonial presentation to him of Nietzsche's Stockdegen .

In the Third Reich, both pre-Nazi and Nazi thinkers were concerned with Nietzsche's thought. Klages, who is a transitional figure, published a work on Nietzsche's psychology.[131] Baeumler studied Nietzsche as philosopher and politician.[132] Nietzsche's appropriation by Nazi thinkers for their own purposes is well known but not well studied.[133] Two exceptions are provided by Lukács and Stackelberg. Lukács devotes a long chapter to Nietzsche as a leading irrationalist in the so-called imperialist period in the context of his lengthy study of the rise of irrationalism from the later Schelling and Kierkegaard to Hitler.[134] For Lukács, fascism is the logical successor of vitalism, which draws the conclusions of the work of Nietzsche and Dilthey.[135] Nietzsche is present in the background in Stackelberg's balanced account of the road from Volk theory to Nazism,[136] but he is entirely absent in Cassirer's study of the state.[137]

We have already noted that Nietzsche was widely discussed in Germany starting even before 1900. In his review of sixty years of the Nietzsche discussion, Löwith describes no fewer than twelve important interpretations identified with the names of L. Andreas-Salomé, O. Ewald, G. Simmel, Bertram, Ch. Andler, Klages, A. Baeumler, E. Emmerich, Th. Maulnier, K. Jaspers, L. Giesz, and Heidegger.[138] If we except Giesz, who wrote after this period, in entering into the field of


Nietzsche interpretation Heidegger joined battle with no less than ten rivals, eight of whom wrote in German.

In his lectures, Heidegger was most concerned with the approaches of Jaspers and Baeumler, but for different reasons. Jaspers was an anti-Nazi, an important philosopher, an existentialist whose thought in part resembled Heidegger's, and a personal friend, to whom Heidegger unavailingly turned for support in a time of need. Baeumler was an unoriginal thinker, a Nietzsche specialist, but not a philosophical rival in any real sense. Jaspers reports that C. Schmitt, Heidegger, and Baeumler were three very different professors, each of whom sought to reach the peak of the National Socialist movement.[139] It is known that Baeumler, one of the first professors appointed by the Nazis, was linked to Alfred Rosenberg even before they came to power in National Socialism. Beginning in the summer semester of 1933, Baeumler was Professor for Political Pedagogy in the University of Berlin. Heidegger knew Baeumler well from the Nietzsche discussion. At the beginning of the Third Reich, in 1933, Heidegger collaborated with both Baeumler and Krieck, although in each case, as early as the end of that year or the beginning of the next year the relationship had been transformed into open opposition, even something approaching hate.[140] Baeumler remained close to Rosenberg and National Socialism in general after Heidegger's resignation as rector.

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4 The History of Philosophy: Nietzsche and the History of Ontology
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