Today In Fact, 26 September

In philosophy it takes at least three generations of human thinkers to produce human flourishing.

The Genealogy of thought and thinking can be a useful method. Philosophy in our civilization is founded upon three generations of Greek Philosophers who lived some two and a half millennia ago; Socrates, his student, Plato and his student, Aristotle. European or continental philosophy in the twentieth century may be said to be rooted in three generations of philosophers as well; Husserl, his student, Heidegger and his student, Levinas.

In both cases the progenitor of the philosophical genealogy developed a method, the second in line, laid out the ground and the third philosopher produced abundant fruit.

Edmund Husserl created the phenomenological method in which thinking was given a method involving the intuiting of essences and a radical process of doubt. His student, Martin Heidegger was a Nazi who infamously had his professor kicked out of the University of Freiburg in 1933 because Husserl’s’ Grandfather was a Jew. Heidegger even denied his mentor library privileges.

Heidegger though showed how Husserl’s method needed to be grounded in the real lived experience of being, thereby laying the ground for existentialism as it fused thinking with being. Heidegger used to hold seminars in which his students were expected to ridicule and critique Husserl. One such student was to be Heidegger’s nemesis; Immanuel Levinas.

Levinas in his reflections on Heidegger’s approach to being saw that it is not enough for us to just “be” (animals after also have being) but that we must be human. Being human for Levinas is not the same as being because our own humanity requires the other. Levinas shows us that Heidegger’s proto-Nazi philosophy of being leads to an endless strife, war and genocide but that we as humans can only be humans when we respond to the other in an act of total giving.

Oh I mention these things because today Martin Heidegger was born in 1889. In the immortal words of Monty Python;

“…Heidegger, Heidegger was a boozy beggar who could think you under the table…”

– Posted by Douglas Racionzer (