The Denazification of MH (Martini Heidegger)

The Struggle with Being and the Philosophical Confrontation with the Ancient Greeks in Heidegger’s Originary Politics

by J. M. Magrini

I. Approaching Heidegger and the Film:
James T. Hong’s experimental documentary, The Denazification of MH is neither an apology for ’s involvement with National Socialism nor a condemnation of that involvement. Rather, the film is a critical philosophical confrontation (Auseinandersetzung) with Heidegger’s thought and the issue of his involvement with National Socialism. The film addresses the perennial concern as old as philosophy itself: the relationship between the philosopher’s life and his philosophy. While the film does not adopt a definitive position regarding Heidegger, Nazism, and the issue of personal responsibility, it does suggest an affirmative response to the question posed by both Levinas and Blanchot regarding the possibility of philosophizing after Auschwitz. Considering Heidegger’s influence on contemporary philosophy and literary studies, inspiring such films as The Denazification of MH and The Ister,[1] it appears as though it is not only possible, but necessary, to carefully and critically approach Heidegger in the effort to continue to philosophize in the wake of the most catastrophic event of the 20 th Century, the Holocaust. [2]

Scholars have employed a variety of methodologies for approaching this issue: (1) Reading Heidegger in a piecemeal fashion, selectively dismissing the texts of the 1930s (e.g., An Introduction to Metaphysics ), works deemed radically political in nature, motivated by the cause of National Socialism; (2) Reading Heidegger’s life and politics as inseparable from his philosophy, a philosophy which emerges directly from Heidegger’s involvement with National Socialism; (3) Reading Heidegger as an apolitical philosopher, or perhaps more accurately, as a philosopher whose work has no definitive relationship to National Socialism. This understanding of Heidegger’s philosophy is expressed by Julian Young, who liberates Heidegger’s thought from the stigma of Nazism, arguing that “one may accept some, or all, of this philosophy without fear of being committed to, or moved into proximity with, Fascism.


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