In Whose Name? Heidegger and 'Practical Philosophy'

European Journal of Political Theory 6 (1):31-51 (2007)
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Abstract

Although Heidegger's relation to political philosophy is, at the very least, problematic, many figures who have contributed significantly to the field attended his courses in the 1920s (Hans-Georg Gadamer, Hannah Arendt, Hans Jonas, Joachim Ritter, Gunther Anders and others). Heidegger's work at that time was marked by an extensive engagement with Aristotle, and above all with Aristotle's practical philosophy. This article approaches the question of Heidegger as a political thinker by returning to his reading of Aristotle's practical philosophy in order to clarify the structural features of his thinking that inspired so many of his students to develop a political philosophy clearly influenced by him. Heidegger reads the Nicomachean Ethics as an ontology of human existence, centred on an interpretation of human existence (Dasein) as práxis. This reading inspired a renaissance of practical philosophy in Germany and beyond. However, as Arendt has shown, Heidegger's ontologization closes práxis within a solipsistic horizon that deforms its political sense. It is this closure, which proves especially damaging when Heidegger begins to understand Dasein in relation to history and community, that many of his students have sought to reverse in their own work, thereby restoring a political dimension to a philosophy profoundly influenced by Heidegger

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