Interview with director Jeffrey van Davis on Heidegger and Nazism

Following up on an earlier post about Only a God Can Save Us, here in four parts is my 40-minute interview with van Davis about his documentary on philosopher Martin Heidegger and his involvement with National Socialism:

van Davis’s documentary is available at Amazon.

The interview is also posted at CEE’s site.

Nietzsche and the Nazis page.

Go to the main page.]

5 thoughts on “Interview with director Jeffrey van Davis on Heidegger and Nazism

  • March 18, 2011 at 2:49 pm

    Thanks. I have long known Heidegger was intellectually lame (though I am not well versed), but I did not realize how influencial he was in European philosophy. I’ll have to look at him again. I find it both interesting and important to grasp something of the history of philosophical developments — and grasp something of how they influenced cultural/political developments.

  • March 18, 2011 at 11:18 pm

    Great interview. Reading Mark Lilla’s discussion of Heidegger in his The Reckless Mind, it struck me how much Heidegger is just ersatz Buddhism. (Buddhist thought entered German philosophy through Schopenhauer.) What is somewhat chilling about that is that Zen Buddhism — particularly figures such as D.T.Suzuki — had a similar role with Japanese militarism as Heidegger did with Nazism. There is even a reference to Heidegger himself saying that Suzuki had written what he was trying to say.

  • March 20, 2011 at 10:03 pm

    Lorenzo from Oz’s comments about Suzuki is off base and a shallow reading of what likely Heidegger was referring to. Suzuki never to my knowledge wrote about supporting Japanese militarism from any philosophical perspective, much less spiritually. What Heidegger was probably referring to was the Zen concept of “No Mind,” a far cry from any political leaning. While others in the Zen community did speak favorably about the military, Suzuki cannot be counted among them.

  • March 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm

    I agree with Mr. Banks that Lorenzo from Oz probably is misguided in his view that Suzuki compares with Heidegger as an apologist for fascist militarism. Some writers have made that claim, but a more coherent argument against this position can be read in Kemmyo Taira Sato’s “D.T. Suzuki: the Question of War.” In it, Sato remarks that although the Zen school unquestionably cooperated in the war effort, efforts to paint Suzuki as a proponent fall short, since no support for this can be found in his personal letters before, during, or after the war, nor in any of his documented public statements. Quite the contrary, his explicit positions show a distrust and opposition to right-wing thought and a considerable interest in socialism (not National Socialism). It may not be clear what writings of Suzuki’s that Heidegger was reading when he made his comment, but it may have been more along the lines of what Mr. Banks mentioned, i.e., the Zen mind rather than the “small mind” of ego and politics.

  • March 21, 2011 at 5:47 am

    Roger: you seem to have comprehensively misunderstood what I was saying (did you read the links?). To clarify, my point was
    (1) Heidegger seemed to think he and Suzuki were saying similar things philosophically.
    (2) Just as Heidegger supported Nazism, Suzuki supported Japanese militarism.
    (3) (2) suggests their ideas had the common implications.
    (4) Which suggests Heidegger might have been on to something about the deep affinity of his ideas with Suzuki’s.

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