Heidegger: Thinking the Unthinkable

Heidegger: Thinking the Unthinkable

1999, Philosophy  -   51 Comments
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Ratings: 7.88/10 from 34 users.

Heidegger: Thinking the UnthinkableGerman philosopher Martin Heidegger addressed the central question of human existence full on, by examining how human self-awareness depends on concepts of time and death. His preoccupation with ontology - the form of metaphysical inquiry concerned with the study of existence itself - dominated his work. The central idea of his complex Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) (1927) could be summed up in the phrase 'being is'.

Man had to ask himself 'what is it to be?' and only by doing this, and standing back from absorption into objects and other distractions, could he actually exist. For Heidegger, the constant fear of death and the anxieties of life helped man to ask this central question – the mystery of life was intimately linked to the individual's confrontation and consideration of the temporary nature of their own existence.

Heidegger also felt that art, like language, was important evidence of existence, something which was a real existence rather than a mere recreation of reality. He opposed technology, which he believed caused alienation, and advocated a return to an agrarian economy in which the individual had a greater role. For many Heidegger’s reputation is tainted by his association with Nazism in 1930’s Germany; he actively supported Adolf Hitler during the dictator's first years in power and after World War II he was banned by the Allies from teaching and publishing for five years.

Despite this, his work has been widely influential, especially on the thought of twentieth century philosophical giants such as Sartre, Lacan and Derrida. (Excerpt from bbc.co.uk)

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PermReader, atheist
PermReader, atheist
5 years ago

The intellectual vacuum created by atheism , is often used by idelogies of rude paganism,including some forms of nazism.It`s not strange so many atheist are the leftists,though the leftism is not so scientific,after the marxist utopia.

Victoria Blackstone
Victoria Blackstone
7 years ago

Fantastic site. There are several videos that are no longer available. Taking them off would be more honest, and save us all time. Thank you, Victoria

rocketmahn
rocketmahn
11 years ago

Shame on this man. And frankly, I'm surprised that his tombstone has not been defaced as have so many other stones of men like him.

64framus
64framus
11 years ago

If you will look at Pg. 3 of the introduction of "Being-in-the-World" paragraph 2
that starts: "Since Descartes...", you should find the answer to your
subject/object problem. Heidegger is doing ontology, not epistemology- which he thought was a "scandal" that it was even considered a problem. Treating Dasein as a "subject" does not refer to the subject/object problem, Dasein is the subject of Heidegger's work and Dreyfus's commentary, at least that is my understanding. Please let me know if I understood your comment correctly. Thank you.

Agostinho Paulo Manhiça
Agostinho Paulo Manhiça
11 years ago

is this doc about Heidegger or Nazis? can't they be dissociated?

Derek Stone
Derek Stone
12 years ago

Thanks for the history lesson about the Nazis and the restructuring of Europe. I thought I was watching a doc about Heidegger's philosophy, but hey, I won't complain.

Howard Lee
Howard Lee
12 years ago

While an informative documentary it is flawed in one big respect.
It pays too much attention to his Nazi connections where on the other hand
it should have done more to explain his philosophy.
This movie is more about Heidegger the Nazi quisling or collaborator rather
Heidegger the philosopher.

vvindred
vvindred
12 years ago

i thought i was at the philosophy section not the anti nazi one

TanongSak
TanongSak
12 years ago

You're quite right. Heidegger himself is supposed to have said that, if you've studied Aristotle for 10 years, then you're ready to study him (Heidegger). I always advise people to start with a commentary on Heidegger, such as Hubert Dreyfus' "Being-in-the-World," before going to Heidegger. Heidegger's German is no easier to understand than the English translations of his work. However, one really can't do serious philosophy nowadays and ignore Heidegger. Even the stalwarts of the one-dimensional "analytic philosophy" tradition are beginning to understand this.

Ambricourt
Ambricourt
12 years ago

This smooth documentary is an affront to standards of intelligent appraisal and good judgement. Its quiet voice-over, smooth editing and selected biographical details are dedicated to destroying Heidegger's reputation and demonizing the man. The film says little about Heidegger's philosophical perspective and repeats platitudes about German society's alleged injustices and persecutions during the 1930s.

Heidegger, a peasant at heart, successfully maneuvered a path through class-rigid German society. And for this, as much as for his philosophical insights, he will be remembered.

In its time, the Nazi Party offered similar opportunities to millions of other young people without work and dispossessed by the terms of the 1919 Versailles Treaty. Among other punishments for losing World War I, Germany was forced to pay 269 billion gold marks to international bankers - one of the most monstrous fines in all history. In 1933, Hitler refused further payments - the real reason for Britain starting World War 2 six years later. Germany's sovereign debt was finally paid on Sunday 3 October 2010 - a completion date unnoticed by most of the world's media.

If a just appraisal is to be made of Heidegger and his society, the biased perspective of ethnicity so painfully over-emphasized in this documentary must be abandoned. Economics and social psychology offer a broader and more salubrious platform.

64framus
64framus
12 years ago

When I first read Being and Time (1956 Macquarrie-Robinson ed.), I had a difficult time understanding their translations of key phrases. I finally came across a book by Hubert Dreyfus (Being-In-The-World, a Commentary on Being and Time, M.I.T Press,1991) and the light bulbs went off! Afterwards I came across a new translation of Being and Time by Joan Stambaugh (1996, State Univ. Of New York Press) and found it far superior to the 1956 ed. As far as I'm concerned, his philosophy has nothing to do with Nazi-ism. He took his dedication to Husserl out of Being and Time during the Nazi era, but put it back after WWII. Like Nietzsche he had a higher ideal of authentic human-being, but with our culture and fascination/reliance on technology and the "newest fad", we'll never be visited by extraterrestrials, because they haven't seen evidence of intelligent life here.

Nathan Knight
Nathan Knight
12 years ago

Could Heidegger not have been forced or coerced to campaign and support the Nazi party?
I guess, though, if he remained in the party so constantly, it is unlikely.

octavio
octavio
13 years ago

Does not outline some of Heidegger's most important contributions to philosophy. Just another historical assessment.

astromann
astromann
13 years ago

This documentary is based on the typical political correctness paradigm (anti-Semitism) which is currently so pervasive in our society today. Then it blames Heidegger for being a politically correct Nazi merely for being on the opposite side of the political spectrum. Pure hypocrisy. The subject matter is completely drowned in a sea of political clap trap. How disappointing. This program purports to be about philosophy.Alas it is not but pure rhetoric.Hopefully I can find some alternative and more informative source elsewhere.

Gegenhall
Gegenhall
13 years ago

Honestly, having read Heidegger, I do not understand why anyone would find him interesting. This documentary is alright, but he doesn't deserve any attention for his ideas. Most of them are just nonsense. Read Einstein instead.

John Adams
John Adams
13 years ago

I watched only about 3 minutes and then gave up. First Rorty, like a yapping lap dog, couldn't resist having a go at Heidegger, and then the PC commentator declared National Socialism as "the most sinister political movement of modern times". Really? Communism killed (the lowest estimate btw.) 40,000,000 people, while the Nazis (and note, you get thrown into prison if you so much as dare doubt this figure) killed '6,000,000' (why the legal enforcement of this historical ‘truth’? Name me one, just one, other historical fact that is legally enforced).

Of course, T. S. Elliot, Yates, Ezra Pound, Céline and others were also all great thinkers - pity they all got it wrong in thier politics! Or did they?

Lori George Alexander
Lori George Alexander
13 years ago

I don't see how a documentary can focus on a philosopher and ignore what he is known for. Nazis have been the rage for some time. I don't see that interest dying out. That is a part of this philosopher and nothing is going to deter from that unless the serious student reads him for him or herself. Film can only do so much anyhow and they do have to pay the bills.

Y
Y
13 years ago

Interesting but if you want to really delve into what his philosophy is about, it is only touched on a little bit and it focuses entirely on his support of the Nazi regime.

Lori George Alexander
Lori George Alexander
13 years ago

Dude, his books are still in print and he is on the Internet. Maybe it is not hearing it but reading is how he intended his work to be communicated.

dude
dude
13 years ago

I want to hear more about his philosophy and not more about the evil Nazis.

Lori George Alexander
Lori George Alexander
13 years ago

I sorry but I would have to add, JPT, that I find it very perplexing why the philosopher wasn't jailed and/or arrested either. OLU's question is a valid one. He did more than express an opinion. The people he went after ended up in labor and concentration camps. Many of them ended up dead. He was a lot more than just a member of the Nazi Party. He was an active participant.

J P T
J P T
13 years ago

@Olu (why wasn't he jailed?) Maybe because in a democracy, ideally one shouldn't be jailed for their political beliefs. If you were alive as a citizen in Nazi Germany, you (assuming you were German) would probably have been a member of the party too. Human beings are like that, you have to consider the historical context.

Lori George Alexander
Lori George Alexander
13 years ago

I don't think this forum is the correct place to debate Heidegger since most of us only saw the BBC film. It certainly is not enough to make an informed judgment.
I have to say that the BBC does a fairly decent job on most subjects, but I want to read the man himself.

Olu
Olu
13 years ago

Call me simple minded. However, I believe that there are degrees to human's frailties, and Heidegger wins the great lot! Though revered for his work, I find it hard to see how one could disassociate a man's evilness from the work of his hands no matter how glorious that work might have seem otherwise.
To me what actually happens was that this man had a moment of consciousness and ran with it. However, that consciousness does not define him. He sought power and fame and position with highly ranked wingnuts, but came up empty. If he were indeed a very thoughtful man, he would not have wandered in the path he chose to travel. As such to me Heidegger is nothing but a fake!

Olu
Olu
13 years ago

My concern is, why wasn't he jailed after the war?

Olu
Olu
13 years ago

@the real Nazi. Suppose there is a shred of truth to your claims about Jews. Can two wrongs ever make a right? I don't think so!

Lori George Alexander
Lori George Alexander
14 years ago

It is a troubling documentary in that it presents a man who had some great ideas but deep and troubling shadows. I am still curious about his work and hope to read him more. I think the BBC does present a good introduction to him and that is all it can do in a documentary of this type.

The real Nazi
The real Nazi
14 years ago

The truth is that the Jews are the real Nazi of our time, maybe even worse, killing men, women and children for more than half a century and nobody says anything. The atrocities of Hitler Nazi are nothing compared to what the Jews do today.

J P T
J P T
14 years ago

I agree with Vec. 47 minutes of "Nazi this, Nazi that." Being Nazi back in those days was like being Republican nowadays. Understand the context (!!!!) of those times and judge him OBJECTIVELY! Isn't that the cornerstone of our academic tradition?! Objectivity?!

So what?! WTF does that have to do with philosophy? I want to know about BEING and TIME, about phenomenology, ontology, epistemology, heuristics and all that, not about some sensationalistic yellow-journalist's petty judgments.

Collette
Collette
14 years ago

Can we admire the works of somebody and in the same time despise the same person? It is what at the end should be found. My grandfather was abusing his wife and childrer beating them while alcoholic, but when I read his poems I am being transported to a beautiful place in a beautiful way. How can Husserl really appreciate any of Heideggers works if he was hurt by th same persona? Difficult to know... But, beyond all doubts was the words Heideger wrote in one of the letters shown in this docs putting next to heil hitler his signiture. That really hurts to see.

Antonio barreiros
Antonio barreiros
14 years ago

I also agree with Tamara and Paul's point of view. the documentary does not aim at reconstructing an in-depth analysis of Heidegger's ideas. However it gives us a nice summary of the circumstances and facts. It's an enjoyable documentary to watch, done with a lot of objectivity in my view.

Paul
Paul
14 years ago

I completely agree with Vec's point, I think that the documentary spent most of the time talking about his relation with Fascism. But I also think that Tamara Novak reasonably argues that the documentary did what it promised: to answer why he was both admired and reviled.

However I think the documentary could have been improved if it changed its thesis slightly so that it leaves enough room to distribute its focus on his notorious political life and his profound philosophical life.

Tamara Novak
Tamara Novak
14 years ago

I think the movie does what it purports to do. Why is he both admired and reviled? What sort of man was he? How did he become aligned with the Nazi movement and to what extent should his Nazi involvement detract from his status of a thinker? You have to know who the man was if you want to understand what he wrote and its purpose. Yes, it may not be the best illustration of the man, but it is said within the time allotted; better to read about him, of course. Good to hear other sides, but why let others do the work for you?

Bary Haugh
Bary Haugh
14 years ago

As Rorty well puts it there are plenty of cases of bad men writing great books. The only real question for me is: Is Heidegger's philosophy in any way Fascist? The documentary mentions some things in relation to this question but it's rather vague. I studied Heidegger quite a while ago and was hoping for more insight into his philosophy. However this docu was a little light in that respect.

MattGone
MattGone
14 years ago

I think the thing about all these movies is that it is tough to make a film documentary about a particular philosopher's philosophy and make it interesting. What you don't often get with books by these philosophers are their backgrounds, which can often be almost as important as what they write. Watch the movie, but if you want to learn about the philosophy itself, read some books.

Vec
Vec
14 years ago

It's a shame that there isn't really anything about his ideas, in fact there is basically only one paragraph about it about 15 minutes in, the rest is just "nazi this, nazi that, never forgive, total nazi, bad man don't even bother looking into what he wrote, nazi nazi nazi"

Sure it's a fairly important part of who he was, and should be mentioned, but not for 47 of the 49 minutes.

Jonathan R
Jonathan R
14 years ago

Always enjoy pondering the mysteries of the universe...

ggwbach
ggwbach
15 years ago

thanks for digging out these great docos. A shame google is shutting down their upload service in a few months. Will have to find another reliable service.

cheers.