Heidegger's Polemos

From Being to Politics

Gregory Fried

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September 10, 2000
320 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
ISBN: 9780300080384
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Gregory Fried offers in this book a careful investigation of Martin Heidegger’s understanding of politics. Disturbing issues surround Heidegger’s commitment to National Socialism, his disdain for liberal democracy, and his rejection of the Enlightenment. Fried confronts these issues, focusing not on the historical debate over Heidegger’s personal involvement with Nazism, but on whether and how the formulation of Heidegger’s ontology relates to his political thinking as expressed in his philosophical works.

The inquiry begins with Heidegger’s interpretation of Heraclitus, particularly the term polemos (“war,” or, in Heidegger’s usage, “confrontation”). Fried contends that Heidegger invests polemos with broad ontological significance and that his appropriation of the word provides important insights into major strands of his thinking—his conception of the human being, understanding of truth, and interpretation of history—as well as the meaning of the so-called turn in his thought. Although Fried finds that Heidegger’s politics are continuous with his thought, he also argues that Heidegger’s work raises important questions about contemporary identity politics. Fried also shows that many postmodernists, despite attempts to distance themselves from Heidegger, fail to avoid some of the same political pitfalls his thinking entailed.

Gregory Fried is assistant professor of philosophy and humanities at Boston University. He has collaborated with Richard Polt on a new translation of Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics as well as a companion volume to the Introduction, both published by Yale University Press.

“With this book Fried clearly establishes himself as one of the Heidegger scholars to whom one must listen.”—Robert Bernasconi, University of Memphis




“[An] insightful and challenging book. . . . A model of rigorous, engaging scholarship. . . . Fried has not only opened up a powerful way of reading Heidegger’s texts, but has shown us how to engage Heidegger in the working out of our political identity.”—Charles Bambach, American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

“With Heidegger’s Polemos, Gregory Fried has established himself as a leading voice in the third wave of Heidegger scholars. . . . In addition to raising important concerns regarding the postmodern appropriation of Heidegger and the type of thinking that makes fascism an enduring threat, Heidegger’s Polemos is an excellent exposition of the middle period of Heidegger’s work, from the late 1920’s to the 1950s. Although the notion of polemos is applied so broadly that it sometimes fails to add anything to standard readings of Heidegger’s work, Fried offers a compelling account of the complex roots of fascism while making responsible suggestions for moving beyond what he considers to be the empty rebelliousness of deconstruction.”—Seamus Carey, International Philosophical Quarterly

“This excellent study of the theme of polemos shows a detailed grasp of the entire range of Heidegger’s writings and relevant parts of the huge and rapidly growing secondary literature. . . . Highly recommended as a first-rate analysis of a single but mainly unexplored central theme in Heidegger’s writings.”—Tom Rockmore, The Review of Metaphysics
Introduction to Metaphysics
Second Edition

Martin Heidegger; Revised and Expanded Translation by Grego

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