Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Can you Separate a Person from their Work?

That is a question perennially asked concerning Heidegger, the highly influential 20th century philosopher--some may say the most influential 20th century philosopher--and Nazi. Is it possible to separate his philosophy from his Nazism? It is something being addressed, once more, in Emmanuel Faye's book, who says "NO!" See the discussion here.


Angie Van De Merwe said...

Heidegger's Nazism is based on "feeling" (of a superior race, or ideology), while Communism is based on supra-rationalism (ordering society). There must be a tension held between reason and feeling, or society and the individuals in that society suffer.

Radical faith nor oppressive social order breed anything that is balanced in regards to society and to man's flourishing.

Man is not just a function of society, who has a role to play, otherwise, he is unimportant, such as technocracy or communism would affirm nor is man bound by his race or religion in determining his own destiny. So, can one separate a person from his work, his race or his religion? Is discrimination appropriate?

So, perhaps, we may disagree with Heidegger's philosophy, but should we limit other's their freedom to read such? Should we ban Neitzsche?

Kyle said...

Can you separate Emmanuel Faye's work from his desire for notoriety by publishing a controversial academic work?

My opinion is that it can be worthwhile, even necessary, to analyze a person's intellectual output in the context of their time, but that something worthwhile from their thought can be salvaged. After all, almost everything more than two hundred years old is classist, racist, antifeminist, etc., but there's still intellectual value to be gained from some of it. Faye's approach indicates that authorial input necessarily affects what readers can get out of a text, which is theoretically suspect not to mention quite insulting to those of us who have spent years developing critical reading skills.