The Relationship between Martin Heidegger’s Nazism and his Interest in the Pre-Socratics

Journal article

Ramet, Sabrina P. (2012) The Relationship between Martin Heidegger’s Nazism and his Interest in the Pre-Socratics, Religion Compass 6 (9): 426–440.

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Although Heidegger was influenced by a number of thinkers, above all ancient Greeks and nineteenth-century Germans, the fragments of the pre-Socratic philosophers Heraclitus and Parmenides exerted a particular fascination on Heidegger. Revolted by what he considered the superficiality of bourgeois life and the spiritual decline of the West, Heidegger wanted to demolish that society, looked to the Nazis to effect a revolution in politics, and drew inspiration for his Nazism from the pre-Socratics. In the process, he rejected the moral universalism of Kant, distorted Nietzsche’s thinking, and marshaled the pre-Socratics in support of his call on Germans to accept their destiny and undertake their mission to struggle for glory and for spiritual rejuvenation. Heidegger’s interpretation of Heraclitus and Parmenides was, thus, an integral component of his particular brand of Nazism.

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