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Hugo Ott Essay

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Cultural and philosophical position inhabited by Western civilisation, whose influence has spread far throughout many academic fields. His 1927 book Being and Time, his first major publication, broke the trend of Western philosophy which had dominated thinking since Descartes. It set the tone of the radically new patterns of thought in an era 'grounded' in technology in society, and the reaction to the death of God, as defined at the end of the previous century by Nietzche, in philosophy. Martin Heidegger was also however, a Nazi. Although his active involvement with the regime as rector of Freiburg university lasted less than a year, he had been a supporter of Nazism, and continued to be, for much of his life. What reactions does this bring upon his philosophy - were his politics and philosophy concurrent with each other, or were there distinct and important differences between them?

Hugo Ott, in his biography of Heidegger, subtitles one chapter "The Perpetual Advent," a phrase which also seems neatly to summarise the character of what could be construed as Nazi 'philosophy.' The Nazis attempted to convince the German population that their coming to power represented the beginning of a vastly different time and culture in their country. The feeling was however always one of being on the brink of this fundamental transformation that was miraculously to happen, catapulting Germany to both world dominance militarily supported by a culture higher than ever before. Coming into government, or rather Hitler taking the post of Chancellor in January 1933, dictated as it was by the bourgeois trivialities of Weimar liberalism, did not however constitute this revolution. Their consolidation of power, through its various stages between 1933 and '39, was merely the preparation for this Germanic rebirth, the beginning of the Second World War too only a prelude for the fundamentally greater things to come. The invasion into Russia, in the quest for Lebensraum and the conquering of the Slavic hordes, was perhaps supposed to beckon the start of the new era, but it was here, of course, where the Nazis realised their fate rested on the considerably more earthly concerns



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