1st Dec 2016 6:30pm
G7 Pavilion Parade
Dr Mahon O’Brien (University of Sussex).
The prima facie case would clearly suggest that Heidegger was an ethnic chauvinist whose views were extreme, right-wing, conservative, conservative revolutionary even and, not only that, but that he was a committed fascist who put little store in and whose views were inimical to civil rights and freedoms when it came to matters of state. And indeed, when one considers the utterly repellent views Heidegger expresses in some of his seminars, writings and speeches from the early thirties along with numerous entries in his notebooks, it is hard at first to countenance the idea that Heidegger could be discussed in the context of human rights in any other way than as a foil against which one might examine a positive account. And yet, we also find in Heidegger’s work, attempts to formulate an account of human freedom which sometimes appears to be absolutely inconsistent with any kind of fascism; it is an account which he reverts to in order to condemn the manner in which human beings in Nazi death camps were stripped of their most basic rights and freedoms in the most nefarious manner. However, that same account of human freedom is not uncontroversial and appears to offer us a glass that is only half full and sometimes appears to be completely empty in terms of the manner in which Heidegger manipulates the intersecting roles of autonomy and obedience in that same account.
Mahon O’Brien work focuses mainly on 19th and 20th century European philosophy. His first book was Heidegger and Authenticity: From Resoluteness to Releasement. (London & New York: Continuum, 2011). His current research project offers a new approach to the Heidegger Controversy and, in particular, examines the notion of an authentic historical community in Heidegger’s thought - Heidegger, History and the Holocaust. (Bloomsbury, Forthcoming)