Martin Heidegger and the First World War

Martin Heidegger and the First World War : Being and Time as Funeral Oration

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In a 1934 speech, marking the Twenty-fifth Reunion of his high school class, Martin Heidegger spoke eloquently of classmates killed in the Great War and called on his audience to recognize that the national rebirth now occuring in Hitler's Germany must continue to draw inspiration from the war dead. In this process, he refers to the war of 1914-1918 as "the First World War." Since the condition for the possibility of "the First" is a Second World War, Martin Heidegger and the First World War raises the question: how could Heidegger have already known in 1934 that another war was coming? The answer is to be found by reading Being and Time (1927) as a funeral oration for the warriors of the Great War, a reading that validates Heidegger's paradoxical claim that the genuinely historical must emerge from the future. By using Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address" as an archetype of the genre, William H. F. Altman shows that Heidegger's concept of temporality in Being and Time replicates the way past, present, and future interweave in the classic funeral oration and argues that if there is a visible path connecting Being and Time to its author's subsequent decision for National Socialism, it runs through the trenches of the Great War and its author's successful attempt to evade them. The analysis and conclusions in this book will be of great value to students and scholars interested in philosophy, history, intellectual history, German studies, and political science.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 350 pages
  • 160.02 x 231.14 x 33.02mm | 680.39g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • New.
  • 0739171682
  • 9780739171684
  • 1,711,786

Review quote

Altman's scholarship is voluminous, especially regarding material detailing Heidegger's personal and professional life...It may also be mentioned that throughout this study, Altman introduces incidental references and allusions to a number of other works by Heidegger, the most noteworthy are the Holderlin Lectures of 1934-35 which Altman reads in ways which support his contention that Heidegger's prose can readily be connected to themes associated with WWI. For anyone with a special interest in Heidegger's readings of poetry, whether Greek or German, the discussions and background material pertaining to Holderlin are valuable and constitute a suggestive interpretive base for determining the import of Heidegger's many writings on this important poet...The juxtaposition of a set of complex particular circumstances-all details pertaining to "the case of Heidegger" including the considerable material Alston gathered relating Heidegger to WWI-with the broader and more traditional concerns embodied in the western tradition of philosophical speculation invites us to rethink just what philosophy is and what we should expect it to accomplish. Should the structure of philosophizing necessarily include individual characteristics incarnated in the psychological profiles of its authors as well as repercussions from the historical, cultural, political and social conditions which circumscribe their work? Does this subtle and complex ambiance affect the nature of philosophical inquiry or, from a traditional perspective, can the import and value of philosophy continue to be detached from these surroundings? These questions as derived from Altman's book represent a signal subject for additional reflection. ID: International Dialogue, A Multidisciplinary Journal of World Affairs Altman's historical research illuminates important dimensions of Heidegger's thought and mentality, and contributes to a richer grasp of the context and meaning of Being and Time. -- Richard Polt, Professor of Philosophy, Xavier University William Altman analyzes Heidegger's theories in Being and Time against the background of the First World War, on which they depend. This is an important book. -- Tom Rockmore, Duquesne University Through wide-ranging research combined with meticulous close readings of often overlooked texts, William Altman sheds important new light on Heidegger's thought and politics in the historical context of interbellum Germany. Altman's readings will no doubt be controversial, but this book deserves the attention of anyone wanting to make sense of the connections between Heidegger's philosophy, his place within the generation of the Great War, and his own eventual engagement with National Socialism. -- Gregory Fried, Suffolk University In connecting Being and Time with the epideictic genre, and in interpreting it as a funeral oration for the German soldiers fallen during the Great War, William Altman sheds new light on the call for the 'struggle to come' launched by Heidegger in Section 74 of that work, and gives a greater concreteness-martial, so to speak-to the Heideggerian conception of the relation between present, past, and future. It is the anticipation of a Second World War that is already in sight. -- Emmanuel Faye, University of Rouen, Franceshow more

About William H. F. Altman

William H. F. Altman teaches Latin and World History at E. C. Glass, a public high school in Lynchburg, Virginia.show more

Table of contents

Chapter 1: Heidegger the Warrior Chapter 2: Davos and Decline Chapter 3: Heidegger's War Chapter 4: Reading Heidegger's Being and Time Chapter 5: Vorlaufende Entschlossenheit Chapter 6: Being and Time, Section 74 Chapter 7: The Nature of Being and Time Chapter 8: Hassan Givsan and Heidegger's World Wars Chapter 9: War-Guiltshow more

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