Heidegger and World Judaism (Black Notebooks)

[Only the first 3 volumes of “Ponderings” are out in English. Not a lot on Jews and Judaism. The appearance of “Jewish” is garden variety anti-Semitism. The appearance of the word “Judaism” indicates an (anti)metaphysical anti-Semitism that forms, philosophically, a bit part and a telling part to a much larger philosophical reaction against modernity and technology. keywords are “calculation,” “machination,” and “gigantic” I’m posting these below along with a few other passages that get to the point about Beyng and truth]

Martin Heidegger Ponderings II–VI Black Notebooks 1931–1938 Translated by Richard Rojcewicz, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2016)

#131 (Cf. p. 152.)—Not return into the ego; instead, transition to the world. In the transition, at the same time an entrance into Dasein. Not lostness in formally abstract being; instead, gatheredness in the whole of attuning being. Not sticking tight to an actuality; instead, binding to the bindingness of the partitioning. Therefore, neither construction of the “logical” (categorical) nor intuition of something “real”; instead, a disclosively (p.36).

#133 The essence of being is truth (ἀλήθεια); therefore truth is to be questioned disclosively in its ground and origin. Yet precisely for that reason it is erroneous to grasp being on the basis of the “true” proposition (judgment); for such is not the truth (p.39).

#135 The essence of being: a taciturnity that conceals. The essence of being is truth | partitioning—and the latter? Taciturnity that conceals, ineluctability. Silence-bearing—(cf. p. 62 top, 79, 90 bottom ff.) (p.40)

Martin Heidegger Ponderings VII–XI Black Notebooks 1938–1939 Translated by Richard Rojcewicz] (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017)

#4 In the a-historical, that which belongs together only within it comes most readily into the unity of a complete commixture; the apparent buildup and renewal and the complete destruction—these are the same—the groundless ones, those addicted to mere beings and those alienated from beyng. As soon as the | a-historical “holds its own,” the licentiousness of “historicism” commences—; groundlessness in the most varied and opposed forms—without these recognizing themselves as of the same distorted essence—falls into an extreme hostility and a mania for destruction. The “victor” in this “struggle,” which contests goallessness pure and simple and which can therefore only be the caricature of a “struggle,” is perhaps the greater groundlessness that, not being bound to anything, avails itself of everything (Judaism). Nevertheless, the genuine victory, the one of history over what is a-historical, is achieved only  where what is groundless excludes itself because it does not venture beyng but always only reckons with beings and posits their calculations as what is real (pp.75-6)

#5: One of the most concealed forms of the gigantic, and perhaps the oldest, is a tenacious facility in calculating, manipulating, and interfering; through this facility the worldlessness of Judaism receives its ground (p.76).

#6: A changeover into the gigantic is still in store for “everydayness” and the “they.” The “inauthenticity” of Da-sein still moves at present in what is harmless. But there are still harmless, childish ones who calculate and who believe | that the instituting of the “community of the people” will overcome “everydayness” and the “they” (as supposed symptoms of the urban world of decadence). The blindness of such a belief arises from a growing incapacity to think beyng rather than establish beings (p.76).

#52 The modern age, which is now starting to enter the decisive “phase” of its consummation, posits humanity as the “goal” for the human being. Insofar as the modern human being is certain of himself as the center of “life,” he needs no further “goals.” Modernity is therefore the age that utterly needs no goals, not simply the age of sheer goallessness—; in such an age, everything is then calculated according to “purposes” and “uses,” inasmuch as purposes are nothing other than salient affirmations of the unneediness for goals. Should this age ever have to be overcome, then the task assigned to humans cannot consist in establishing—or even only seeking—“goals” “over and against” the unneediness for them—instead, the first step is meditation on whether the human being can himself be a goal and whether he is supposed to “have” “goals,” and whether and under what conditions he requires “goals,” and why he ultimately disposes of this “requirement” in the form of the unneediness for goals. But “goal” here does not mean the aim (purpose) of human activity; instead, it signifies that toward which such an aim proceeds. The unneediness | for goals then signifies that the human being does not require any arena in which he would have to protrude as the purpose of himself, since indeed everything that “is” presents only an “expression” of his “life.” The decisive meditation does not consist in first distinguishing that toward which the human being is supposed to proceed; instead, it is a matter of questioning what the human being, as one who proceeds toward, is supposed to be—whence then the very essence of the human being is determined, whether his determination arises out of an assignment, and whether that to which he is assigned can ever be grasped as a “goal” or is not thereby misinterpreted. The question is whether the human being, as assigned, proceeds toward something which in accord with this assignment can precisely not be a “goal” for him—such that the proceeding toward would find its essence in becoming a renunciation and a self-withholding, which signifies not a “loss” of essence, nor a “gain,” but pure steadfastness in the essence itself, namely, to be the steward of the preservation of the truth of beyng as self-refusal (event—origin) through the grounding of Dasein. If Da-sein essentially occurs “through” the human being for the sake of | “beyng”—then this is not a “goal”—at which the human being is at some time supposed to “arrive”—but is that which, as self-refusal, is the clearing wherein humans and gods encounter one another. This encounter is the history of their own respective essential grounding. In the unneediness for goals, which in fact takes its life from having overcome the setting of goals, there is carried out a further removal from the true human goallessness. This name does not designate a lack and doom; instead, it contains an intimation into the essential depth of the human being, a depth he will attain only if being itself appropriates him again in another beginning of its history. Then would goallessness therefore be the “goal” of humans? This captious formula withdraws precisely to where such formulas always readily entice, namely, away from the genuine thinking of what is to be thought. Goallessness can never be the goal, if it is supposed to be grounded as the essence of the human being; for this grounding no longer issues from the setting of a goal, but from the preparedness for a necessitation of the plight which is beyng itself, and beyng casts itself, as the event of appropriation, between the humans and the gods and so refuses | ever to be taken as an attainable being or even an unattainable one. The age of complete goallessness (unneediness for goals) can indeed be understood as such since a tacit aversion to any setting of a goal prevails. Yet this understanding—should it remain heedful of the history of beyng—on the basis of the essence of beyng—must not assume a “goal” would actually have to be sought and posited and the need for goals awakened. In fact a goal would precisely not be needed, since of course in unity with the emerging unneediness for goals, the countermovement is also already asserting itself in the form of a positing of goals, even if this positing is only a reestablishment of previous goals (in the sense of Christianity or of the previous Christian “culture” of the West). The need for goals thus impedes the transition to meditation at least as much as does the unneediness for goals. Yet if the thinking and discourse that are heedful of the history of beyng cannot always avoid speaking of “goals,” and if it is said, for instance, that the grounding of the truth of beyng is the “goal”—then “goal,” in the context of this thinking, means | only that toward which the human being is proceeding and which precisely casts him back, since as beyng it is not the “highest,” but is even higher than everything highest (i.e., goal and final goal), insofar as it assigns the human being to the abyss of the clearing, and beyng essentially occurs as this clearing. Yet the unneediness for goals secures and strengthens itself as well as its sovereignty in the increasing palpability of its purposes and thus in the self-evident significance of the means. And if apparently the means are only in service to the purpose, and the latter justifies the former, then basically the purpose is the hidden slave of the means, which in turn is the idol of the purpose. The “means,” however, are the now accessible beings themselves—the “real,” things that are effective and, in virtue of their results, prove to be what is true. The “purposes” are only pretexts for the means—the purposes claim to be the center of beings, whose beingness has for a long time been determined as “reality,” and beings have served as masks in which the apparent forcefulness of being “works itself out.” (Cf. Beyng and force.16) Nietzsche established the goallessness “of life” (i.e., its unneediness for goals) through an absolute postulation of life as the basic reality; he does not question Da-sein’s goallessness, which is grounded in the essence of beyng qua | event of appropriation and thus qua Self-refusing clearing. Nietzsche’s goallessness “of life” is only the inversion of the Platonism which posits being in the sense of the “idea” as prototype and “goal.” That means: like no other of his time, Nietzsche strives to set up once again a “goal” beyond the human being, and this “goal” is the superman—that the current human being might go beyond to the superman, who has his truth in the highest flourishing of streaming life as such. But what is decisive about this setting of a goal resides not in its “content,” but rather in the fact that it, precisely as a setting of a goal, remains metaphysics and does not know or venture an originary questioning into being (pp.255-8)

Martin Heidegger, Ponderings XII–XV Black Notebooks 1939–1941 Translated by Richard Rojcewicz, (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2017)

#24 The history of Western humans—no matter whether they dwell in Europe or elsewhere—has slowly advanced to a situation wherein all otherwise familiar domains such as “homeland,” “culture,” “people,” but also “state” and “Church,” and also “society” and “community,” refuse to take shelter. And that is because these domains have been degraded to mere pretexts and have surrendered to an arbitrary connivance whose motive forces remain unfamiliar and divulge their operation simply in compelling humans to habituation in an ever more importunate massiveness whose “fortune” is exhausted in making do without decisions and in becoming stupefied while intending to possess and enjoy this massiveness more and more, because what is worth possessing is becoming constantly smaller and emptier. The sole and also necessarily ungenuine anxiety such a situation still allows is the fear that this human activity could suddenly be brought to an end by new wars and everything could go astray; for where the adherence to the present-at-hand counts as the possession and mastery of | beings, there misfortune shrivels up to a state in which and through which everything present-at-hand must be subject to elimination. How could there still awaken in these circumstances a trace of the anxiety which recognizes that precisely the supremacy of the present-at-hand and the unneediness for decisions (the imperceptibly growing strength of the destining toward this situation) are already and only devastation and not merely destruction and that the sovereignty of this devastation through catastrophes of war and wars of catastrophe can no longer be impugned, but only attested? No essential change will be introduced into the metaphysical character of beings as a whole, whether or not the herd-quality of humans, abandoned to itself, through its universalization drives the human being to the consummation of his animality, or the pack of despots drives the supremely articulated and “engaged” masses to complete decisionlessness, or therefore an “order of rank” within the definitively identified animal (in the sense of the “superman”) can still be instituted. With the coolest audacity and while averting all the pressure of “moral” evaluations and “pessimistic” dispositions, | the thoughtful gaze must keep before and around itself the consummation of the metaphysical history of beings, so that the atmosphere of inceptual decisions might blow pure and clear throughout meditative questioning. What matters here is to know that the devastation within the domains of “refinement” and “cultural pursuit” has already progressed essentially further than it has in the field of the coarser concern for the needs of life. In correspondence, here—with the futile custodians of the spiritual heritage—a higher cleverness has developed in the renunciation of essential meditation. In this correspondence, there entice and increase, on the one hand, the disempowerment of all rooted domains in favor of the empowerment of a thorough machination and, on the other hand, the renunciation by the human masses of all claims to decisions and standards. Through this self-expanding correspondence, there emerges an imperceptible void whose concealed essence cannot be grasped from the still-dominant basic metaphysical position, especially if this position, in the guise of its opposite, attains prestige as the unconditional incorporation of the human being into the machination of beings as a whole—and this often still in reference to | the historical forms of sovereignty which have already been deprived of every foundation. For instance, today’s military believes it can still rely on “Prussianism,” but the military has essentially changed and is even already something other than the soldiery of the last years of the world war—besides the fact that from this domain of human activity, even if the domain places one before death in an idiosyncratic hardness, creative historical decisions can never arise, but only forms of an always average breed, and to want to expand this breed and make it “total” would demonstrate utter ignorance of the essence of beyng and of its lying beyond all power and impotence. For the same reason, however, also every “pacifism” and every “liberalism” are unable to press on into the domain of essential decisions; instead, these attitudes amount to a mere counterpart of a genuine or ungenuine militarism. But the occasional increase in the power of Judaism is grounded in the fact that Western metaphysics, especially in its modern evolution, offered the point of attachment for the expansion of an otherwise empty rationality and calculative capacity, and these thereby created for themselves an abode in the “spirit” without ever being able, on their own, to grasp the concealed decisive | domains. The more originary and inceptual the future decisions and questions become, all the more inaccessible will they remain to this “race.” (Thus Husserl’s step to the phenomenological attitude, taken in explicit opposition to psychological explanation and to the historiological calculation of opinions, will be of lasting importance—and yet this attitude never reaches into the domains of the essential decisions; instead, it entirely presupposes the historiological tradition of philosophy. The necessary result shows itself at once in the turning toward a neo-Kantian transcendental philosophy, and this turn ultimately made inevitable a progression to Hegelianism in the formal sense. My “attack” on Husserl is not directed to him alone and is not at all directed inessentially—the attack is directed against the neglect of the question of being, i.e., against the essence of metaphysics as such, the metaphysics on whose ground the machination of beings is able to determine history. The attack establishes a historical moment of the supreme decision between the primacy of beings and the grounding of the truth of beyng.) (pp.35-7).

Why are we recognizing so late that England in truth is, and can be, without the Western outlook? It is because we will only henceforth grasp that England started to institute the modern world, but that modernity in its essence is directed toward the unleashing of the machination of the entire globe. Even the thought of an agreement with England, in the sense of a division of the imperialistic “franchises,” does not touch the essence of the historical process which England is now playing out to the end within Americanism and Bolshevism and thus at the same time within world-Judaism. The question of the role of world-Judaism is not a racial question, but a metaphysical one, a question that concerns the kind of human existence which in an utterly unrestrained way can undertake as a world-historical “task” the uprooting of all beings from being (p.191)

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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