12 Apr

Was Heidegger a Boozy Beggar?

According to those masters of philosophical commentary Monty Python, and in their Urtext, The Philosophers’ Song (Das Lied des Philosophes), “Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table.” I love the song but I know Martin H was no such thing: but a disciple of the great phenomenologist Husserl and guru to the utter charlatan (and therefore adored by the whiizziwigs in the Church of England 1960s avant garde) Rudolf Bultmann. Now strike me down if I tell a lie, but today in a review article I have actually read an Oxford philosopher – one needs to put those last two words in inverted commas these days – with a good word for the alleged boozy beggar. Though, of course, the PPE creep couldn’t help talk up the gossip about Heidegger’s “Nazi past” and again make the false assertion that Hannah Arendt, the narcissistic Jewish socialist and spiritual poseur, “had coined the phrase “ (to quote the Oxford meagre-prof): “the banality of evil.” It wasn’t blessed Hannah, prof; it was Tommy Aquinas – thought he said it in Latin – which I conjecture is too elitist for Oxford these days – and Aquinas called evil a privatio boni.

Which being translated is “empty”, “devoid of all reality”, in a word, dear Ms Arendt, “banal.” We mustn’t be too hard on the Oxford prof though. Loads of elite lefties have made the same mistake

But to get back to the boozy beggar. He was the greatest philosopher of the 20th century. Why? Because he rejected the Enlightenment arrogance which has plagued anglosaxon philosophy since the 18th century and which sees philosophy from the point of view of the detached individual observer who stands apart from the world and evaluates his experience of it in terms of sense data, perception, philosophical idealism or whatever. Heidegger by contrast starts from the very commonsensical view that we are not detached observers but part of the flux that we observe. We are Dasein – thrown – into the world and have to be content with just (as it said in the Peter Sellers film) being there.

We are, as that other Tom said, “the music while the music lasts”

Of course Heidegger is despised among the intellectual fashionistas because of his alleged Nazi sympathies. But the lefties and the desperately progressive luvvies who love Sartre’s plays – despite the fact that Sartre was a psychopath who all his life moved in and out of Stalin’s communist party as if it were a revolving door – never mount the same criticism of that Left Bank nihilist 

Heidegger never once, in the days when he was my constant drinking companion at the Dichtung und Warheit corner pub in Freiburg, put down his pint to affirm a belief in God. But he believed in Being.  (Which is probably the same thing, isn’t it, God?) And thus he aligned himself with the great medieval philosophers – I think particularly of my friend St Thomas who, downing his glass in one gulp would always says, “One swallow doesn’t make a Summa” – those so tragically usurped by the 18th century Endarkenment

This is us, Dasein, in the pub, thrown here, we know not what. This dart board. All these bloody games of dominoes and the woman selling The War Cry . We are consumed with Angst. We know we must die. Therefore we must adopt not Vorhanden but Zuhanden – a “being towards death” (Dasein aus Tot). And how do we do that?

The boozy beggar says by attending to the greatest art and music and literature, by noticing that the reality in which we partake is greater than we who partake of it; and and by avoiding becoming reductionist professors of philosophy in bloody Oxford

Here’s to you, Martin baby. And, if you’re buying, mine’s a pint.