Heidegger was a rare individual, not many had or have his intelligence, endurance and character In spite of all he went through he continued his way He was and is a much needed light in the darkness, a light that shone and still shines bright today This is the story of a genius like no other, about his thoughts, his sufferings and detours And yes, no human is perfect, except their critics … To decipher a book like Being and Time in a serious way means months of careful study and repeated readings It is every bit as fascinating as it is challenging, but it absolutely requires a certain level of dedication and commitment, as does all of Heidegger's writing So after all that work it can be discouraging to hear the inevitable question: Wasn't Heidegger a Nazi? Well, he was And that has to be explained And the explanation will never be satisfactory But Safranski comes as close as I think we will get to a resolution of Heidegger's genius with his reprehensible failures in the thirties.There is a tacit assumption (and judgment on the part of the critic) that there is a nexus between Heidegger's philosophical endeavors and his political life After reading this biography I'm led to believe that it is in fact a disjunct and not a nexus at all His failure was one of character, not of thinking Safranski goes into great depth farthan I expected and discusses details of Heidegger's work that will most likely baffle readers who are not already familiar with Being and Time and some of the later works And this is as it should be As a biographical subject Heidegger leaves a lot to be desired; aside from his extramarital affair with Hannah Arendt, his life was not very interesting What fascinates is his work and the profound influence it had An extremely well written (and translated) biography of a difficult man Probably the best bio I've read since Ellmann's James Joyce. A tour de force For those who have encountered Heidegger through Being and Time and his later formal works on technology, the man can seem to alternate between abstract diffuseness and collapsing particularity Safranski gives us instead something that perhaps Heidegger himself would appreciate: the story of a grounded life, an historical existence, a sense that Heidegger was really there. Wow Just wow Safranski is an amazing writer, compassionate, clear, witty, and not only did he open up Heidegger's thinking to me, he opened up Thinking, with a Capital T Or maybe he made me remember it All I know is I would have kept on reading him for ages Not only food for thought but food for the spirit, food for the soul. One of the century's greatest philosophers, without whom there would be no Sartre, no Foucault, no Frankfurt School, Martin Heidegger was also a man of great failures and flaws, a Faustus who made a pact with the devil of his time, Adolf Hitler The story of Heidegger's life and philosophy, a quintessentially German story in which good and evil, brilliance and blindness are inextricably entwined and the passions and disasters of a whole century come into play, is told in this brilliant biographyHeidegger grew up in Catholic Germany where, for a chance at pursuing a life of learning, he pledged himself to the priesthood Soon he turned apostate and sought a university position, which set him on the path to becoming the star of German philosophy in the s RUdiger Safranski chronicles Heidegger's rise along with the thought he honed on the way, with its debt to Heraclitus, Plato, and Kant, and its tragic susceptibility to the conservatism that emerged out of the nightmare of Germany's loss in World War I A chronicle of ideas and of personal commitments and betrayals, Safranski's biography combines clear accounts of the philosophy that won Heidegger eternal renown with the fascinating details of the loves and lapses that tripped up this powerful intellectualThe best intellectual biography of Heidegger ever written and a bestseller in Germany, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil does not shy away from full coverage of Heidegger's shameful transformation into a propagandist for the National Socialist regime; nor does it allow this aspect of his career to obscure his accomplishments Written by a master of Heidegger's philosophy, the book is one of the best introductions to the thought and to the life and times of the greatest German philosopher of the century Heidegger was born, he was a Nazi, he died.John Haugeland’s ironic formulation is an allusion to a famous statement of Heidegger during a lecture on Aristotle: “Regarding the personality of a philosopher, our only interest is that he was born at a certain time, that he worked and that he died.” It is also a neat summary of what many people, including many philosophers, will tell you is everything that any decent person needs to know about Heidegger It of course raises the question which plagues any philosophical biography, that is: why does it exist? We want our philosophers to be role models and sages They should have no lusts, no moral imperfections, no interests outside of philosophy, no personality Their biographies should fit on a postage stamp They should approach as closely as possible the ideal of a robot prophet or saint or a disembodied brain There has been precisely one person in the history of philosophy who fulfilled these expectations His name was Immanuel Kant The rest were human We can skip the question of why you should be interested in Heidegger; anyone coming to a biography has already decided that they are But what can a biography tell us that a philosopher’s work itself doesn’t, beside some trivial gossip? A good philosophical biography should tell us about the development of a thinker, provide an overview of his or her work and situate the work in its appropriate historical and philosophical context (Philosophy is its own time grasped in thought Hegel) It should be penetrating but not prying, juicy but not salacious, respectful but not a hagiography, critical but not a hatchet job, readable but not breezy, encyclopaedic but not encyclopaedic It should have a clear structure which is both chronological and thematic It should entertain and enlighten This is an almost impossible task And yet miraculously, Safranski has pulled it off He does a much better job here than in his widelypraised Nietzsche biography which is frankly a bit crap.It would be a disservice here to provide a précis of the précis; but this is a job well done We see the proto Heidegger, the seminarian (less by choice than by financial circumstances that made it his only possible route to higher education) The move from theology to philosophy The early Heidegger, the phenomenologist From the shadow of Husserl to putting Husserl in the shade Heidegger the careerist, Heidegger the Nazi The quiet years The late Heidegger, Heidegger ὁ σκοτεινός, the sage of Todtnauberg Throughout, the grappling with the question of Being Never fully answered, never fully questioned, never fully formulated, thought as perpetual motion And who, who has read Heidegger would deny the power of his thinking? Not of his answers (he was never satisfied of his own) but of that sheer vital force of thinking ¨Es denkt in mir¨ he sometimes said to his son, “Ich kann mich nicht dagegen wehren.¨ (Perhaps: Thought thinks in me, I can not resist it.) Or as Hannah Arendt put it, Heidegger does not think about something, Heidegger thinks the thing Thinking Denken Immer denken The title of a late work: “Was heisst denken?” (What is called thinking?) A famous saying: Die Wissenschaft denkt nicht (Science does not think.) Another: Man denkt nicht mehr, sondern beschäftigt sich mit 'Philosophie' (One does not think any , one busies oneself with 'philosophy') Here is the kern of Heidegger's method, Destruktion Die Philosophie ist keine Lehre, sondern eine Tätigkeit [Philosophy is not a body of doctrine but an activity Wittgenstein.] Imagine an ancient sword hanging in the British museum, behind glass, under argon Perfectly preserved Imagine a professional swordsman (and where would you find such a thing nowadays outside of a circus? And where would you find a philosopher nowadays outside of academia?) breaking the glass and lifting the sword and taking the heft of it and swinging it An outrageous blasphemy, perhaps Looking ridiculous, perhaps But isn't the act closer to the essence of the sword than any brass plaque? Of course we can bin Heidegger, but we should be aware of what else we would be binning: it is little exaggeration to say that continental philosophy of the 20th Century consists of a series of footnotes to Heidegger Without Heidegger, there is no Sartre, no MerleauPonty, no Derrida, no Gadamer, no Levinas, no Löwith, no Ricoeur to name but a few But he was a Nazi!Before reading Safranski I waswilling to stand up for Heidegger in this regard But it seems yes, he was For a short period and at least until 1933/34, he truly believed that the NationalistSocialist party heralded a spiritual revival and revolution of the German people In his brief spell as Rector, he energetically attempted the Nazification of the University of Freiburg He muddied the waters of his philosophising and teaching As one of his students at the time said, I staggered out of the lecture hall in a daze I didn’t know whether to study the preSocratics or join the SA Heidegger realised too late (much, much too late) that the Nazi party was in fact the apotheosis of a corrupted, contorted technicalscientific ideology that he thought it would help overturn The philosophers thought he was too much of a Nazi The Nazis thought he was too much of a philosopher Left nowhere, he resigned the rectorship and fled from politics to the comparative safety of his books and his Todtnauberg hut Can genius and moral idiocy coexist in the same body? Yes Is all of Heidegger’s work now tainted by his association with the Nazi party? Yes Is all of Heidegger’s work an expression of Nazi ideology? No Is Heidegger’s thinking Nazi thinking? No Is there much in it of great interest and value? Yes Was Heidegger a bad man? Yes Was Heidegger a great thinker? Yes.Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers asked themselves the same questions in an exchange of letters.Jaspers: Can one as an impure soul, that is, as a soul that does not even feel its impurity and constantly try to force itself out of it, but one that thoughtlessly lives on in filth can one who is indecent see what is purest? Arendt: What you call impurity, I would call a lack of character, in the sense that he literally has none not even a particularly bad one And yet he lives in a depth and with a passion that one cannot easily forget A set of collected works (as yet incomplete) that will be over a hundred volumes, ranging over the entire history of philosophy A Nachlass that is even bigger; we will probably never see it all All that writing and practically nothing on ethics, practically nothing on politics? You could drive a bus through Heidegger’s blind spots.What are we to make of the late Heidegger, often dismissed as a mystic, an obscurantist, a bad poet, a technophobe? To begin with, I would say that mystic is no insult and mysticism has a great tradition but let’s leave that aside As for technophobe, I have three nieces who each had their own iPads before being able to walk One of them refuses to eat unless she has her iPad in front of her I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen people almost run over because they were looking at their smartphones, or the number of times friends gathered around a table are all staring at their individual glowing screens instead of eating or drinking or talking to one another I can’t help but think this is a profoundly fucked up mode of beingintheworld and that things are getting worseNur noch ein Gott kann uns Retten [Only a God can save us now.] Maybe Safranski turns to an old Zen parable A great Zen master is supposed to have said: Before I studied Zen for thirty years, I saw the rivers as rivers and the mountains as mountains Then I arrived at a greater understanding and I saw that the rivers are not rivers and the mountains are not mountains Now I have reached the essence of Zen and I see that the rivers are rivers and the mountains are mountains.I like this story a lot but I think there is another Zen saying that better encapsulates the late Heidegger The finger that points at the moon is not the moon Thethat philosophy (even phenomenology) becomes elaborated, the further it is removed from the truth of lived experience Thetortuous the attempts to force it back to the radical, thespectacularly they fail Philosophy begins in wonder If there is anything to be learned from Heidegger, it is to learn to wonder again. 020220: well now i have read about 41 books involving hd these are some other favoriteshttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1https://www.goodreads.com/review/showhttps://www.goodreads.com/book/show/6https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/2040815: for someone i had decided not to read on or by, i have read far too much hd i have read 6 books by him, in collections, in essays, and then 21 books on him to some degree i have not read his masterwork 'being and time' (hereafter bt) i had decided, several times, that his acts before, during, after world war two, his enthusiastic, insensible, confusion of philosophy with politics his 'greatest error', his unapologetic support for the rise of adolf hitler and the nazis shocked, horrified, rendered his thought into educated, eloquent, delusion and i did not want to read and then i have i have not changed my horror of his acts, i have perhaps changed my condemnation of his entire thought, for i have seen hd is a major, inescapable voice for much 20th century continental philosophy so i would really like to understand him i would like to find that point hd goes from authentic, brilliant, innovative, inspiring thinker to inauthentic, obtuse, political fool if hd had died right after he wrote bt, his place in philosophy of the century would be assured, no one would have to excuse his later career and common enthusiasm for the nazisi have not read many bios on hd, tending to believe great thought should be eternal, all in effect, genesis, truth however historically expressed, however limited by the era, by conceptual, by artistic, contingency i have found what little bio needed in my favourite on hd: and really have not changed my reading since this present book, in some chronology, does not accuse or excuse hd's nazi adventure, but by understating what careful 'political' reading of his actions, tend to soften the serious damning actions he was caught up in rather perhaps the way most 'good germans' would like to imagine and so excuse culpability, and in this way i can see how this was a bestseller in germany, where it is a matter of getting along, of adjusting, of fear and friendship that allows so many common people to be swept up in nazi fervourbut this is the point: hd was not one of these 'common people', not in his mind, not in the mind of those students, and whatever minimal effect his support of the nazis, it was real, it was persistent, it had who knows how much practical result this book follows closely hd, i find most engaging those passages others who have not read hd do not enjoy where i understand better this or that quote, this or that idea, the genesis of any idea, all the ways in which hd was so brilliant from the 'lectern experience' to the assertion that the key to 'Being' is 'Time' well he did write a whole book on that, bt, the man was a brilliant, brilliant, brilliant philosopher you could ask what about the rest of the time, but this might be mistaken: in enjoying your favourite athlete do you stop to think he is a philosophical idiot? but then the rest of hd's life is not so easily dismissed he had fantasies of the 'right time' for emergence of 'dasein', he wondered whether germany really needed so many philosophers when they had him? hd dreamed of starting something of an academy like plato, but here closer to the work, the striving, the truth of german 'boy scouts' hd thought at first that the nazis were a countering force to the mechanizing, inhuman, domination of 'being', the 'leveling' of all humans and worlds he saw in the russians and americans, in their versions of technocracy hd as much as anyone in germany probably underestimated hitler, thought he could direct, promote, 'dasein', and was later convinced the nazis were only another symptom of degradation of the human and then, as with this book, the messy realities are not thought about, not much mentioned: concentration camps, political murders, world war, attempted total destruction of an entire people the jews, hd? did you apply your brilliant philosophy to them?i understand that in french history there is a desire to refuse identity as collaborators when the nazis established the vichy government during the war, i understand the japanese history that focuses on the atom bombs that ended the war rather than the fact japan vigorously attacked other asian countries and committed such atrocities as the rape of nanking, i understand latin american total destruction of peoples and cultures predating contact with europe, i understand the americans' practically oblivious history of the genocide of natives and establishment of slavery of africans, i understand the equivalent process everywhere from canada to australia even the ethnic cleansing of ishiguro kazuo's most recent book: i understand that the germans are not unique so this understanding is forgiving but not forgettingi give this a 5 in recognition of the questioning questions it provokes hd was a brilliant man who among other human failings was rather blind to his hubris, rather seduced by his own intellect and convinced it applied in all realms i have never liked people who are so identified with how smart they are, so valuing only that in themselves and others i do not like myself sometimes a sense of humility, a sense of kindness, goes a long way, and as kings once had jokers who alone could mock them and remind them of their human dimensions perhaps this is what hd needed as well and not everyone was so distracted: sentence quoted by julien benda 'man belongs neither to his language, nor to his race; he belongs only to himself, for he is a free, that is, a moral, being' for a 'decisionist' like hd, you make your choices, you earn contempt A wonderful book for anyone fascinated with the deepest ideas and how they can be lived An honest, balanced, book about Heidegger's life of philosophy It is also book about thinking, what it really is, and how it infuses culture with new possibilities for authenticity (true Being in the world) This is a book about Heidegger's time, about what happened in Germany between the wars and how this great thinker became a Nazi We also begin to understand how he handled his short love affair with National Socialism for the rest of his life Many other great thinkers and poets are discussed Ideas are compared and great insight is provided into Heidegger's effect on others (lovers and detractors) You will also understand how philosophic thinking changed after WWII.Heidegger and his ideas are always a bit of a mystery, but always a force to be reckoned with He is truly one of the great thinkers of the 20th century. Good biography of one of the greatest philosophers of all time It describes quite well human existence, its possibilities and limitations; its Dasein. I must say I did not think I would like this book although I studied some of Heidegger's writings in college and always enjoyed what he had to say But biographies are tough: they are often bogged down with too many details that make the book, at least for me, dull Safranski, however, while still painting a detailed portrait of Heidegger's life, keeps it interesting throughout the entire book He not only has an engaging style of writing but also an eye for what details the reader wants to know As one of the most prominent philosophers who ever lived, Heidegger's ideas were fascinating; just as fascinating were his long stretches spent in solitude so he could ruminate in peace, and his private life, which included a wife, one child that was his, a second child by his wife who was not his (and he knew and raised the boy anyway), his lovers and others with whom he associated For anyone at all interested in Martin Heidegger, I would highly recommend this!