Jaspers, Heidegger, and Arendt: On Politics, Science, and Communication

Existenz 4 (1):1-19 (2009)

Babette Babich
Fordham University
Heidegger's 1950 claim to Jaspers (later repeated in his Spiegel interview), that his Nietzsche lectures represented a "resistance" to Nazism is premised on the understanding that he and Jaspers have of the place of science in the Western world. Thus Heidegger can emphasize Nietzsche's epistemology, parsing Nietzsche's will to power, contra Nazi readings, as the metaphysical culmination of the domination of the West by scientism and technologism. It is in this sense that Heidegger argues that German Nazism is "in essence" the same as Soviet Bolshevism and American capitalism. Jaspers himself had likewise emphasized the Will to Power by contrast with the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Heidegger differs from Jaspers (as from their mutual student Hannah Arendt) inasmuch as Jaspers preserves an enthusiasm for the possibility of scientific certainty while yet recognizing (as Heidegger does) a strong sense of the limits of science. None of the three can correctly be labeled anti-scientific. The essay closes by recalling Arendt's reflections on the very possibility of resistance using the example of Jaspers' own resistance to contemporary political events.<br><br>--------------------------------------------------------------------------------<br>.
Keywords Hannah Arendt  Karl Jaspers  Heidegger and politics
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