Excerpts from Martin Heidegger’s Black Notebooks 1931-1938.
Questioning is more provocative and harder than all the empty sharpness of ‘thinking’; it is more thrilling and attuning than all sentiments lashed down to make them secure. – (63)
[These are excepts from Ponderings II-VI: Black Notebooks 1931-1938 – Indiana University Press, 2016. The general themes of these excerpts are philosophy’s practical effect or lack thereof, education, the people, and National Socialism ].
The image of the effectiveness of philosophy in general has been formed on the basis of the historical ‘effect’ of Plato and Aristotle on the Christian West. But what if here the opposite of philosophical effectiveness existed; indeed what if there were no such thing as philosophical ‘effectiveness’? Philosophy cannot be effective – as little as can a way or a track -; it can only open up and keep sharp the need and risk of having an effect. What results from this for an ‘appointed teacher of philosopher’? He cannot communicate philosophy through instruction; still less may he, by playing with philosophy, ‘existentielly exhort’; still less may he belabor philosophical cognitions; on the contrary, he must gather himself up and: philosophize – come what may. In philosophizing, however, he must be in genuine dialogue with philosophers – of his choice. And what then finds expression in words is always only the – to be sure, necessary – superficies. (63)
The people: the guarding and carrying out of the empowerment of being. The empowerment out of the fearfulness of thrownness, whose first essential individuation remains precisely the people – and their great individuals. The essence of these individuals to be grasped out of and in the individuation as people. (74)
Pressed to assume the rectorship, I am acting for the first time against my innermost voice. In this office, at most I might possibly be able to prevent one thing or another. For building up – assuming such is still possible – the personnel are lacking. (81)
National Socialism not a ready-made eternal truth come down from heaven – taken in that way, it is an aberration and foolishness. Such as it has become, it must itself become in becoming and must configure the future – i.e., it must itself, as a formation, recede in favor of the future. (84)
The end of ‘philosophy.’ – We must bring it to an end and thereby prepare what is wholly other – metapolitics. Accordingly also the transformation of science. (85)
Metaphysics as metapolitics. (85)
Education – the effective and binding realization of the power of the state, taking that power as the will of a people to itself (89)
Is that the right way: in constant dealings, in maintaining the bustle, in diverting the all-too-great countereffect, in eliminating personal squabbles, in the back and forth of momentary trial and error and of undertakings – in all this is the right way a crippling of oneself in the genuine power and a barring of oneself from the actual spiritual task? What is the point of lecturing here and there, since the lecture will not be understood? To be away from dealings – which others can accomplish much better – does not mean to stand apart from the movement. Will our people after a few years starve to death on the constant slogans and catchphrases – or will we create an actual spiritual nobility, one strong enough to configure the tradition of the Germans on the basis of a great future? Is it a natural consequence that today by necessity the form of the future spirit is misunderstood and that within the National Socialist movement one must misunderstand those beginnings that in it press on to an actual developed transformation of powers, ways, and works? (89)
The preparation for the transformation of knowledge will take decades. It requires an originary strong tradition of the essential in a forward direction. It needs a mode of knowledge cultivation that will appear in real teachers and in a teaching community and will create paradigms to which the rising generation can and must be bound. The driving, farsighted, and creative powers must converge in a knowledge academy pointing forward and setting standards and rules. And what do we have instead? Only an uncreative floundering in daily whims and verbose din over demands already obsolete thirty years ago and never virally rooted. (89)
The high sort of thought and the nobility of Dasein – not bound to class or vocation or status! But can be unfolded in status. How is a high sort of thought bred? Through the constant constraint of a determinate questioning bound to a mission; firm promptings! (91)
as mere pleasure in egalitarianism –
as predominance of those who merely drag down –
as mere carrying on of the common welfare –
as the obligation (one of various parts and levels) of all to their respective mission after their guiding and sorting in the entirety of the people (91)
The metaphysics of Dasein must become deeper in accord with the innermost structure of that metaphysics and must expand into the metapolitics ‘of’ the historical people. (91)
A popular remark: National Socialism was not first developed as ‘theory’ but instead began with praxis. Fine. But does it follow that ‘theory’ is otiose? Does it follow even that we merely ‘otherwise,’ ‘for the rest’ deck ourselves out with bad theories and ‘philosophies’? It is not seen that ‘theory’ is here taken in two senses – according to need – and that we are therefore ‘theoretically’ mistaken precisely in the interpretation of our own doings; for if the many ‘speeches’ in the struggle were not ‘theories’ – what would then happen but this: a reeducation of the people and fellow members of the nation to other viewpoints, e.g. with regard to one worker versus another, with regard to economics, society, state – ethnic community – honor – history?
‘Theory’ as mere detached thought that is simply entertained in the mind and ‘theory’ as anticipatory demand of knowledge must not be lumped together; in each case the meaning of praxis is also different; engagement is not mere praxis; nor do mere breaking forth and lashing out constitute engagement. This misconception of ‘theory’ can have the most disastrous consequences on the practical level, for praxis then becomes mere ‘bustle’ = badly understood ‘organization.’
Yet now is not the end-condition – nor simply a sector of a mere diffusion of that condition in the entire people, over and above party – on the contrary, what is called for now is precisely engagement in this that is allegedly theoretical – because here all basic attunements are rooted and out of them the historical world must be created.
The more originary and stronger are the symbolic power of the movement and its work, so much the more necessary is knowledge. But the latter not in its propositional consistency and its calculability – but instead as the power of the superiority of the world with regard to the basic attunement. (98)
We do not desire to underpin National Socialism ‘theoretically,’ not even supposedly so as to make it that way or the first time durable and endurable. But we do want to provide the movement and its proper power possibilities of world-configuration and of development, whereby we know that these projects as such – i.e., falsified into ‘ideas’ – do not possess any effectuality; but indeed they do if they are language and interrogative attitudes, ones thrown in the power of the movement and arisen in the field of that power and persisting therein. The power of the projection to attune and to create images is what is decisive – and that cannot be calculated. Attunement and image – but these must encounter the closed will to configuration on the part of the people. (98-99)
Spiritual National Socialism is nothing ‘theoretical’; nor is it an ‘improved’ or even ‘authentic’ one; yet indeed it is just as necessary as the National Socialism of the various organizations and professions. Whereby it must be said that the ‘mental laborers’ are not less removed from spiritual National Socialism than are the ‘manual laborers.’ Therefore, need to bear up with the spiritual demands, even if this aspiration is so often and so easily ridiculed from above as something supplementary and, according to good Marxist thought, is dismissed as something merely for ‘fellow travellers.’ (99)
The proper, but most remote goal: the historical greatness of the people in the effectuation and configuration of the powers of being.
The more proximate goal: the coming to themselves of the people on the basis of their rootedness and their assuming of their mission through the state.
The most proximate goal: the provisional creation of the community of the people – as the self of the people.
Work and leadership.
The most proximate goal of all: the capacity of all countrymen for Dasein and for work – creation of the joy of work and of the new will for work.
These goals, connected in series, require in each case various levels of configuration, and these in turn are determined by the respective breadth of experience, by the motived of the leading generation, and by the will to revolution on the part of the youth.
None of the configurations of the goals can be effectuated immediately – in each case, roundabout ways and setbacks. But the sequence of configuration in the actualizations is to be established all the more strictly the higher the reaching out to the most remote goal – the more originarily the latter (although closed off) is announced in the basic attunement.
Where in all this resides our most proper task: the creation of the new claim to knowledge in the postulation of the new way of seeking and questioning?
The danger of the relapse of the university into the previous bourgeois bustling about – despite all the synchronization and additional assimilation of the political.
The danger of the snatching up of these relapses into the fixed domains of the world of Christian thought and of the previous Western-modern technological science.
In opposition, we must find and traverse ways and modes for knowledge cultivation and for the awakening of the will to knowledge, ways and modes which are already pervaded by the kind of actuality announced in the genuine goal. And, for that, the motives of procedure must arise from the concealed basic attunement which is itself awoken and implanted not in talking about it but rather in the attitude toward it. For this, however, other forms of work in common and of the attitude toward work are altogether necessary.
The will to knowledge and the service to knowledge must be anchored in basic attunements and in passions; these not as additions and embellishments of a false vivacity – but rather according to the essence of attunement – that which determines by attuning. Only in this way is knowledge set to rights – not at all extrinsically – from its previous institutions and their cultural significance – but from the essential depth of being.
The kind and the passionateness of the basic attunement of the motives and intentions are decisive for the happening. And the reeducation must in advance base everything on that.
The passionateness and attunement of knowing and questioning are decisively intended in the ‘rectoral address.’ Here the essence of ‘theory’ in the previous sense is shattered.
The essence of the finitude of being and of Dasein implies that what is effectuated at any time always lies under the height of the original beginning – whence it follows: we must always begin as high as possible and must persevere in this beginning: for otherwise only setbacks.
To be grasped with clarity is the economic and also immediately political unprofitability of everything spiritually creative. Only the platitude of an opinion all too ‘close to life’ can conclude from this that the spiritual is dispensable and otiose, or, what is even worse, can lead astray to the view that – from the fear that in the end one will appear to be quite unrefined – one should precisely tolerate the spiritual with a smile; whereby one has simply fallen back into bourgeois conventionality.
To lead means to educate others toward autonomy and self-responsibility; and to lead spiritually means to educate others for leadership and to awaken their creative powers.
Leading and following can by no means be accommodated to the relation of the above and below. This order does not at all take form. Rank is inconspicuous encompassing power which nurtures the essential precisely in others and lets it unfold there. The radicality of a movement can be preserved only where this radicality must always be created anew with the most clarity and depth – viz., in the spiritual; whereas the realization of goals in every case drives on to an end state in which one settles down and is secure.
The unholy danger of the reputable platitude in the spiritual domain (Krieck)! It suffocates everything, gives mediocrity a justified self-consciousness, and kindly removes all suffering from those feeling inferior. And this society is then supposed to prepare a historical world of the people! (100-101)
One can already speak today of a ‘vulgar National Socialism’; by that I mean the world and standards and demands and attitudes of the presently appointed and respected newspaper reporters and makers of culture. From there, naturally under a brainless appeal of Hitler’s Mein Kampf, a quite determinate doctrine of history and of humanity proceeds to the people; this doctrine can best be designated ethical materialism, which does not refer to the precept of sensual pleasure and living life to the full as the highest law of Dasein; by no means. The designation serves as a deliberate contrast to Marxism and its economic-materialistic conception of history.
In the designation above, the term materialism signifies that so-called character, which indeed is not identical with brutality and narrow-mindedness, but which does count as the alpha and omega, is determined precisely like a thing around which all else turns. ‘Character’ can indeed mean bourgeois philistinism or, on the other hand, capacity for engagement, a capacity that is ready for engagement, inconspicuously restricted to, and firm in, the work of character and its pertinent knowledge. It can also mean cleverness in all machinations which are on the lookout for something and which well cover over the meagerness of ability and – in case they are lacking – the seriousness and maturity of contemplation. In short: character is indeed not present at hand like a stone or automobile – nor is it simply formed in brief indoctrination campus – instead, it unfolds in a confirmation within history, one which the character itself co-configures in this or that way – thought to be sure not alone – in any case not as present-at-hand power – but if at all – then as being-in-the-world – i.e., the power of the capacity of a knowledgeable, spiritual, and natural confrontation with beings.
This ethical materialism – indeed stands above economic materialism – insofar as one places morals above economics – which indeed must first be grounded and which cannot be decided by ‘character.’ This ethical materialism is therefore in no way invulnerable to economic materialism – especially due to the fact that it regards itself as substructure and as bearing and determining and from the outset misinterprets everything else as ‘superstructure.’
This extremely bourgeois pretense over character, a pretense which one day could founder on its own incapacity – now joins up with a dismal biologism providing indeed the correct ‘ideology’ for ethnical materialism.
The insane opinion is now spreading that the spiritual-historical world (‘culture’) would grow like a plant out of the ‘people,’ assuming only the clearing away of obstructions – thus, e.g., the bourgeois intelligentsia constantly maligns, and grumbles about, the incapacity of science.
Yet what alone is gained thereby? The ‘people,’ rescued in this way from the ‘intelligentsia,’ falls by way of its obscure urge into the most desolate philistinism and presses to imitate and appropriate bourgeois privileges and prestige; the availably present-at-hand dominating force is snatched up in order to bring oneself to dominance; ‘one’ shies away from the struggle which presses forward into the uncertain and which knows that only through closing off and suffering can greatness by disclosed by the few and the individual. Whereby we will still quite leave aside the question of how much an originality of the ‘people’ can be attained on such a path today – through halting the intelligentsia, through fetching back the obsolete folklore, etc. There then remain always the masses of the petty bourgeoisie and the masses of the proletariat – these can be recreated only in a historical process and not through voting. Although these grounds can no longer be divided into classes or organized into parties, yet there are still there as historical attitudes and communal powers and will be overcome only very slowly: on the one hand, by the youth, and then through the spiritual-historical basic attunement and passion of our Dasein, and finally through an essential change in work and possessions.
And all this is supposed to be created without ‘spirit’ and preached only with ‘character’? And all this is supposed to arise ‘of itself’ out of the people – without having to be decided and taken up into a discipline for knowledge.
Nothing at all – let alone something great – ever arises from the mere removal of restrictions; what is productive is only anticipatory struggle – i.e., suffering and danger, which is to say, knowledge! (104-106)
The socialist pretense of the students – silliest romanticism: huddling together with ‘workers’ and boozing with them; inspecting and milling about in their activities – when one knows very well that one will never live or work for any length of time there – all that is just as silly as a farmer, in the season of tilling or harvest, drawing into the university town and inviting himself to a students’ gaudeamus in order to testify personally to the bonds tying people together; meanwhile the fields and the harvest go to the devil – or a few women work themselves to death – socialism? If only the students bothered one bit about knowledge cultivation; then their new tasks would be, in preparation for a genuine co-science along with the knowledge of the people, to be obliging to this knowledge, acting in and out of their own vocation, to cobuild the historical-spiritual world of the people, and to preserve taste from a definitive decay into philistinism, in order to awaken and tend to the genuine needs – through a simply serving exemplarity which, to be sure, requires a long education and can arise only from a high and superior genuine knowledge.
Precisely as ‘student,’ today’s student is no National Socialist, but an out-and-out bourgeois; for in knowledge cultivation he salvages himself relative to the most facile and most usual appropriation of a ‘knowledge estate’ which he procures from somewhere or other – without the cognitive attitude that could intrinsically be called ‘socialistic’ – i.e., one that would be motivated by responsibility, secured through a true superiority, and ready to act.
This ‘socialistic’ pretense is only a cloak covering a flight in the face of the authentic task and one’s own incompetence. (107-108)
Culture? The struggling structure of the historical Dasein of a people and its destiny, a Dasein exposed to the gods. – But struggle polemos [in Greek]. (126)
What saves us is only the conversion into the still not arisen (originary) essence of truth, so that in the recurrence out of truth we might surmise what is true and through ourselves prepare an arrival of it – the enduring of an nonunfolded beginning. (126)
The gaping void in the unsurmised wilderness is to be sustained. (Do not let yourself be talked out of nothingness on account of the wretched certainty of a rootless shrewdness.)
First need to endure an actual questioning and scorn those vain money changers who loudly offer to supply answers, and the most current ones possible, and who in advance justify their half measures, flung into the people, by saying that everything is in development. (126)
The many: ones who now speak ‘about’ race [Rasse] and indigenousness and who mock themselves in their every word and action and demonstrate that they ‘possess’ nothing of all this, leaving aside the question of whether they actually are well-bred [rassig] and indigenous. (126-127)
Intellectualism is reviled, and talk goes on incessantly – in quite accidental and deficient concepts – ‘about’ the people, the state, science, rights, etc. Yet no one ever considers and questions whether we have such mastery of Dasein that we can for long endure this last and worst chatter. ‘Positivism’ – i.e., the immediacy of the operation of the spirit – goes further, except that one now speaks about ‘community’ and falls head over heels for sheer community. But the masters come in this way into high office, faster than they could have dreamt, with all their incapacity and arrogance. And the much-discussed people? That is, the most intrinsic spiritual destiny of the people? Degraded to a dissolution and desolation, such as the Germans have not yet lived through. (127)
The much-invoked ‘community’ still does not guarantee ‘truth’: the ‘community’ can very well go astray and abide in errancy even more and even more obstinately than the individual. The people’s opinions, convictions, and views have for a long time not been purely and simply the measure of truth and will not become this measure merely because they dominate or are able to breathe and thrust themselves forth. And precisely with the demand for ‘community,’ it becomes even more difficult not only to bring into power but even just to find the genuine measures and distinctions.
There must be clarity concerning today’s mass society and its degeneration – which has been going on for decades, and not merely since November, 1919 – in order to sense the full gravity of the responsibility lying in the ‘emphasis on the principle of community,’ especially where the cognitive relations are so confused and childish.
Matters which for us have long been unable to become questions are today offered, by those who lack experience and competence, as the newest discoveries and are belabored with unsurpassable bad taste. (127)
The most genuine community does not unburden the individual but, instead, demands the highest – i.e., egoless – autonomy of knowledge and of persistence. (127)
The ever-greater counterfeiting with regard to what a struggle is, especially a ‘spiritual’ struggle. (138)
What is in accord with the people? That which echoes back to the people (i.e., the many, everyday people) their own opinions and thereby is in service to the people?
There is something truly in accord with the people, and the essence of its accordance lies in the fact that it is not brought before the people, indeed can never and must never be brought before them.
The ambiguity in ‘accordance’ [Gemassheit] is fateful. The people are not the measure but instead are themselves placed under their measure; everything essential must be in accord with that measure, and thereby a people first comes to be.
If accordance with the people, i.e., with the measure to which the people are subject, is assumed to be popularity, and if this is meant in the sense of the solidarity of the people, and if that is in turn taken to be the camaraderie of the mediocre ones and of the common pursuit of degrading all that is great and unique, then everything is thrust into untruth and deviltry. (138)
A current way of talking about written works, which is supposed to be an objection: ‘merely produced at a desk.’ Fine; but the question remains: who is sitting at the desk, a thinker or a mere writer? If the latter forsakes the desk and enters into the so-called battlefield of ‘debate,’ he still does not change from a writer to a thinker – at most, he becomes a screamer. This facile counterfeiting with the desk, as an objection, may one day prove fatal. (138)
Race – that which is a necessary though indeed indirectly expressed condition (thrownness) of historical Dasein is falsified into the unique and sufficient condition – not only this, it at the same time becomes what is spoken about. The ‘intellectualism’ of this attitude; the inability to distinguish between racial education and theorizing about race. A condition is elevated to the conditional. (139)
‘The people’ – what is then meant by this? Is the term supposed to represent those who are all too many, the necessarily mediocre ones, those who are easily contented – and at the same time will it pretend to mean the historical determination of the highest possibilities of the whole of a historical Dasein? What holds of the latter does not hold of the former, and vice versa.
‘Popularity’ of the highest and essential is not at all of service to the ‘people’ and is injurious to the essential and highest.
What therefore is the point of such counterfeiting? (139)
How National Socialism can never be the principle of a philosophy but must always be placed under philosophy as the principle.
How, nevertheless, National Socialism can take up quite definite positions and thus can coeffectuate a new basic posture toward beyng!
But even this only under the presupposition that National Socialism knows itself in its limits – i.e., realizes that it is true only if it is able – only if it is in condition – to prepare and set free an original truth. (139)
Why National Socialism in its current configuration is still hardly a ‘worldview’ and, as long as it insists on this ‘configuration,’ can never become one –
because it misunderstands the basic condition of all ‘viewing’ – all intuiting and seeing – and is untroubled by such misunderstanding; indeed it thwarts all striving for such understanding – out of fear of its own bravery.
It misunderstands that everything near and actual is seen, viewed, only on the basis of what is remote.
And that the greatest remoteness of Da-sein is necessary and constitutes Da-sein’s own proper grounding.
Can come back to what is near only on the basis of this remoteness.
What is seen is first visible on the basis of the remote, only so – in such seeing – does the world comes to be. (144)
Service to the people. – They must always be few, those who know and can know what, e.g., occurred in Kant’s work and therefore what will happen in the future; those who know must remain inconspicuous; it is enough if they are granted the possibility of handing down their heritage – they must have no noise round about them – they bear, as could never be otherwise, something like the bedrock for the existence of the people. (145)
I think a Middle Age is beginning; the one of a perplexed atheism – fruitless and without an Aristotle for it to take up, indeed even the trace of a power to do so is missing. (145)
What is politically right and great, namely, to bring the people back to themselves, becomes, in terms of worldview, something arbitrary and small, an idolizing of the people, who are now extolled as present at hand and in whom everything is formed as present at hand and ‘organic’ and out of whom everything comes forth just as easily and of itself, if one merely has ‘instinct.’ This ‘folkish’ animalization and mechanization of the people cannot see that a people ‘is’ only on the ground of Da-sein, in whose truth for the first time nature and history – in general, a world – come into the open and liberate the earth to its closedness.
And only this Da-sein is the possible abode of the plight – in which the flight of the gods can be experienced and the waiting for the ones who will come can be carried out. (163)
Why is it a violation of the essence of philosophy itself to seek to demonstrate mistakes in a philosophy and represent it as partially correct and partially false? It is because a philosophy can never be refuted! Why not? Because it contains nothing refutable; for, what in it is actually philosophy is the opening up of being – world-projections; such can never be refuted, but only replaced and altered –; i.e., every philosophy remains and has a corresponding recurrence which can never be immediately established and calculated.
The truth of a philosophy is measured according to the originality of its opening up of the essence of truth. (175)
Philosophy: love of wisdom.
Love: desire that beings be, being –
Wisdom: mastery over the essentially occurring unity of creating (recognizing – teaching – loving ) and of kindness (177)
Philosophers: those in whom this will is desirous (in the Hindu manner) – , not as their will, but as Da-sein. (177)
What matters is not primarily what serves (i.e., is useful to) the people, but what the people must serve, if the people is to be a people historically. (179)
The mystery of philosophy is the capacity to wait while questioning, until the simple event comes into clarity unconditionally and creates for itself its place and ground. (188)
Has one thinker ever refuted another? Is refutation the form of overcoming appropriate to them? Must there by an overcoming here at all? Or does not the one thinker rather situation himself in relation to the other, in such a way that in this gaining of a foothold they ‘merely’ transform being, without explicitly incorporating the Previous transformation? (188)
Every great thinker thinks only one thought; this one is always the unique thought – of being. But to think this one thought does not mean to go into retirement with the monotonous sameness of the one representation which perhaps with the first to emerge. Nor does it mean simply to ‘apply’ this empty same thought to various domains. On the contrary, the fruitfulness of this thinking of one thought consists in the fact that the uniqueness of this way becomes ever more alienating and question-worthy and thereby unfolds in its originary junctures the fullness of the simplicity – unfolds what is little – into a configuration.
Here is the greatness of thinking, where this simplicity of what is unique may of itself grow into the riches of what is essential and may be transformed. (188-189)
Every genuine concept of philosophy is, as a concept, gravid with decisions. (189)
Is it not an abyssal and therefore scarcely ever noticeable error to strive by means of institutions to raise Dasein and the history of mankind to their destiny and even to their greatness? An error, because only the configurable flashing of the uniqueness and strangeness of beyng in the hardest assault draws humans to their heights and can hurl them to their depths, in order thereby to open them to the space-time of their ‘there.’ Everything else, not having this event-character, is excluded from the possibility of grounding essential history; the more gigantic everything else becomes, all the more clearly is it only the self-clouding delay of a long-since determined and irresistible downgoing which is denied the possibility of becoming a transition.
How then must a downgoing be, so that it can become a transition? (203)
To remonstrate against Being and Time for not taking up or even naming the ‘people’ and the ‘community of the people’ as ‘cores of meaning’ is equivalent to reproaching a fir tree for not attaining the performance of a race car. In the end the fir as fir is capable still of something the race car, as loud and as gigantic as its demeanor may be, will never perform. Thus Being and Time is striving for something which, remaining in stillness, reaches far ahead of all idle talk about the ‘people’ in the ‘pseuodophilosophy’ suddently becomes overzealously ‘folkish.’ (213)
Machines and machinations have neither memory nor recollection. Where machination reigns – and it reigns most powerfully and best of all in concealment, where Dasein is to be constrained and propelled through ‘worldview’ – all the more easily will the semblance of historical recollection expand. That it is mere semblance can be seen in the fact that prehistory counts equally with history, like what was taken over from the nineteenth century with a mere change in application. There is recollection, however, only where the past is cherished, i.e., desired and known as something still occurring, in order to place the future into question and hold it up to a measure.
But one who as a ‘reactionary’ against the future is only for the ‘tradition’ has the same aversion to meditation as do those who blindly believe in what is new and through the latest achievements already sense themselves satisfactorily confirmed in relation to the past.
Those who ever belong to yesterday and those who ever belong to tomorrow meet up in what is essential: namely, the fact that they avoid – with unsurpassable confidence – every confrontation with what is decisive, i.e., with the question of whether and wherein beyng still is grounded and groundable.
A young generation may be called young only when it must forbid itself this avoidance and do so on the basis of its own innermost will to existence If it is not capable of that, if it cannot even hear an allusion to it and experience the necessity of it, then this generation’s senility is insurmountable and easy to cover over only through bluster in an environment which will only allow either ‘rest’ or the confirmation of its ‘progress.’ (217)
Sentiments without institutions are impotent; institutions without sentiments are violent.
Sentiments and institutions must arise originarily out of meditation, out of that questioning knowledge which as essential knowledge is already volition – but, measured against the ravings of machination, is useless.
This era lacks the power and discipline of meditation and likewise lacks rest and measure. Why? Because in its deepest ground, one concealed to it, it no longer wants meditation? But meditation bears on the truth of beyng and requires that the more originary essence of truth be grounded as the first, against decisive, truth.
Yet is this not presumptuousness – to want to ground the essence of truth again and more originarily? Do not the beings now placed into machination take their inexorable course, without bothering about their truth?
Are not the last death throes of the gods coming over the West? Only one who thinks out into this extreme possibility can fathom the plight concealed behind current history, wherein impotence and violence together seem to constitute the law of motion. (217-218)
One who abides in thoughtful meditation is never tempted to make philosophy ‘practical,’ because the task of thinking is indeed to make ‘praxis’ philosophical. But how does the address on ‘the self-assertion of the German university’ stand in that regard? It is not inconsistent with it, for, despite what many believed, the address did not seek to apply ‘my’ philosophy to the ‘university’ and its configuration, but instead sought the reverse, to bring the university to a meditation from the course and in the course of its tasks.
Nevertheless, the address and its attitude were a mistake: the university does not want to meditate and can no longer want to, not because someone or other has forbidden it to meditate – but because modern science has reached that stage in its technologization whereby ‘progress’ would be impeded by meditation. And what would this ‘science’ still be, if it could no longer make progress? (236)
A ‘philosophy’ that openly or covertly seeks validity with respect to politics and significance with respect to ‘worldview’ is merely calling itself ‘philosophy’ and remains abyssally separated from what this name conceals more than reveals. (236)
People – meditation on ourselves and on our history stands in the twilight of this name. If we for once put aside all the insidious equivocity of the term, which conditions not only the inaccuracy of speech but also the great variegation in attitudes and procedures, then we must give thought to the following:
with masses of 65 million, does not even the number, as the number of a possible configured class, already set a limit? Such that a people with this quantity of members is impossible? Or with this scale of number must there not be a corresponding unusualness in that which first allows the ‘people’ to be a people – namely, the surpassing into the truth of beyng, the truth that bears and develops a people. Here – with such a quantity that is almost countless for purposes of configuration – must not the surpassing have an excess – ; and, so that this excess can be measured and standardized, must not the number of the creative ones be small reather than great – in the uniqueness of what is most unique?
But how are precisely these countless ones, brought to ‘themselves’ with their claims and measures, supposed to be led not only to recognize those most unique ones as the most futural ones, but also help prepare them? If we do not wish to withdraw from the essential decisions, then what is required is meditation of the basic conditions of being a people – but this meditation is indeed only one of those radiating out from the still more originary meditation on the ground and truth of Western Dasein.
One must of course not fall into the basic illusion – that everyone’s easily possible insight into the biological condition for the breeding of a ‘people’ could touch what is essential – whereas the predominance of this naturally crude and common biological way of thinking precisely suppresses meditation on the basic conditions of being a people. – The knowledge and indeed creation of these conditions require an excess of the surpassing of a people by itself, the liberation from all calculation of either particular or common usefulness. As preeminently necessary as this requirement is, so little does it touch upon the necessities of the proper Dasein of a people – necessities which are also not grasped by a mere appeal to the Christian Churches, but are thereby only distorted.
Decisive is whether these masses that are not a people – especially under hard external compulsion – undergo a transition to the basic disposition which is to dispose differently (according to the respective groups and classes) ones who grow on the basis of respect and will into a preparedness for the surpassing of the everyday -; the surpassing proceeds neither to the other side, nor does it remain on this side – but it does indeed open the entrance into the truth of beyng – beyng as the event – in which the advent or absence of the last god is decided. This decision will be a long history and so will shake a people back into its grounds and abysses.
Everyone must experience and undergo this plight undisguisedly and must make it experienceable to all the others there with him. The acknowledgement of this plight to the abandonment by being is the first liberation, for it is already a coming into the proximity of the extreme remoteness of that which saves; yet this saving does not mean taking aside and comforting – but rather appropriation into the re-creative restoration of beings.
And how long must the patience be, in order to effectuate the excess of awe in the face of beyng amid the unbound frenzy of the mere furnishing of beings for external resources.
How false is that reckoning which first of all strives to secure the external resource in order then – perhaps – to retrieve the other.
Whereas the attaining through struggle and the grounding of the truth of being are solely essential, even if ‘only’ to give the downgoing its greatness. (245-7)
As soon as a philosophy has reached the question of the essential occurrence of beyng – and only then will it be justified in bearing this name – it must necessarily think counter to its own epoch. The one thing philosophy is not, and never can be, is the ‘expression’ of its epoch grasped in thoughts.
But that necessary opposition to its times must also never become the refuge of those who adhere to their times only as bygone and hitherto and are confused and lame with respect to the willing of a configuration of the future because they saddle this willing with the burden of a now uncreative tradition as the standard.
That opposition of philosophy to its times does not arise from any sort of deficiencies or defects in the epoch, but instead derives from the essence of philosophy and does so all the more necessarily the more precisely and genuinely the willing of the future acquires form and direction in the times. For, always, but especially then and indeed by essence, the productive thinking of the truth of beyng leaps ahead of all instituting, preserving, and restoring of beings – ahead of all immediate creation and work. Therefore, philosophy – assuming it actually is such – can also never be appraised ‘politically,’ neither in an affirmative or negative direction. A ‘National Socialist’ philosophy is neither a ‘philosophy’ nor a service to ‘National Socialism’ – but instead simply runs behind it as a burdensome pedantry – an attitude which is already sufficient to demonstrate its incapacity for actual philosophy.
To say a philosophy is ‘National Socialist,’ or not is so, means the same as to say that a triangle is courageous, or is not so – and therefore is cowardly. (254-255)
The longer I carry out my work, whether badly or well, here in my adopted homeland, all the more clearly do I see that I do not belong, and cannot belong, to Alemannia as it is behaving convulsively and barrenly here on the supper Rhine. My homeland, the village and farmstead of my mother – the breezes of Holderin waft over it all, and his springs stream through it; it possesses the hardness, incisibility, and abyssal character of the Hegelian concept; it is permeated by that ‘speculative’ drive of Schelling which ventures far in advance; and it has nothing of the lying bluster which rages over the land here and is concerned with making noise. It is then just like the native ‘Alemanns’ to fancy themselves the genuine ones and dissociate themselves from the ‘Swabians.’
But – over and above all distribution into belonging to a line of descent and a class – what alone is decisive is how one does belong, i.e., whether one merely gives ‘expression’ to the common and familiar qualities of the line of descent or rather, through one’s course of life and achievements, sets forth undeveloped tasks and new possibilities. All of this makes otiose the talk – even rational talk – about belonging to a line of descent. (255)
Perhaps the most difficult thing is to be a philosopher in the guise of a ‘philosophy professor.’ If someone in this guise is actually a thinker, then he would do best to remain hidden; for he will be taken as a ‘professor.’ (257)
If things have progressed so far that the most proper labor is made into a playground for ‘dissertations,’ then the moment has arrived whereby for a long time an actual comprehension and especially the volition for such comprehension will remain absent. That moment arrives necessarily. (259)
It is indeed food for thought that, e.g., Descartes is now refuted by small-minded teaching assistants who have never suffered, or even conceived, a proper thought in its necessity, let alone that thought which would give them the right to consider a confrontation with Descartes and consider the preparation for such a confrontation. I mean philosophical preparation, not the preparation needed to advance one’s career as an author. It is food for thought that there are no more teachers who could check such vain pretentiousness, or, even further, through the correct education into reverence, would never allow such attempts to arise. (268)
What is the human being today? That which he is accounted to be. And he is accounted to be the summary drawn from the answers to the many questionnaires addressed to him from all sides – the human being is the result gained through a gigantic calculative approach to him – he is what is offered up by an index-card file. Will this human being still be able to encounter a God; or, more clearly asked: will any God still be willing to enter the atmosphere of this human being? – (286)
The many forget beyond beings that which to the many is a nonbeing, namely, beyng. The creative ones know beings on the basis of beyng, in that the creative ones set the truth of beyng into a ‘work’ and place beyng under beings, so that they (beings) might become more fully beings in the ‘work.’ Consequently, for the many, there must always be ‘religions’ – but, for the individuals, there is God. (290)
The most profound misunderstanding of philosophy: the opinion that we could and should immediately and constantly take up our abode where philosophy opens up the abyss. Because this effort fails at once, we take philosophy – the abysses of beyng – to be refuted. And yet these abysses are the ground of all foregrounds and backgrounds, between which, going back and forth, we save ourselves, secure ourselves, and pacify ourselves. What then is philosophy supposed to offer to us? Immediately, nothing at all. We satisfy it well enough if we cast aside that misinterpretation and thereby surmise the abyssal character of beyng in beings – and we are prepared for philosophy if a mission of creativity, always remaining in the domain of creativity, strikes us. (310)
Thinking in the other beginning is not for the public. Members of the public encounter ‘philosophy,’ if they at all lend a thought to this useless pursuit, with the expectation of receiving some sort of answer as an assurance and confirmation of their desire for ‘contentment.’ To ordinary thinking, nothing is more alien and suspect than the step into the unguarded, because there – according to the usual reckoning – one can only count on losses. The unguarded clearing of the self-refusal is the storm which blows within beyng itself – the event of appropriation itself stands in the storm. – Force – submission and breaking and downgoing are the signs of beyng. But this storm of the event is the intimacy of the divinization in the trembling of beyng.
If future thinking is not equipped to endure this strangeness of its mission (the strangeness of the grounding of Da-sein), then it lacks everything needed to place into suitable words even only the most provisional questions regarding the truth of beyng, to wait for the capacity to hear on the part of the few, and to leave aside all clandestine ways.
What does this say about the possible communication of this thinking? (311-312)
The ‘totalitarianism’ of what is superficial (‘people,’ ‘politics,’ ‘race’) and the destruction of every grounding or even any admission of a decisional possibility in the essence of truth and of beyng. Whatever does not in advance reach out into this realm remains superficial and all the more unconditioned in its claims as it is more destructive in its accomplishments, precisely because a semblance speaks in favor of a constructiveness and a renewal. (334)
Why does the proclaimed and the extolled (in short, what is in some way public) attain so often the rank of ‘truth’? Perhaps because ‘publicness’ is still a paltry remainder from the lost and past essence of truth as the openness of beings? Because – the less the latter itself still prevails, all the more insidiously does the former proliferate, behave as a stronghold of correctness, and entrench itself in various configurations. (344)