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Heideggers Heritage: Philosophy, Anti-Modernism and Cultural Pessimism


However, if that is the ultimate measure of Heideggers philosophical achievement,

then the question of Heideggers political allegiances is more or less irrelevant.
In Bourdieus well-known book, he looks to situate Heideggers philosophy such
that his ontological politics in the 1930s are perfectly consistent with and emerge
rather predictably from the views he had been developing in the melting pot of
cultural pessimism and a conservative revolutionary mindset which he would have
been stewing in since his teens:
Heidegger is close to the spokesmen of the conservative revolution, many of
whose words and theses he consecrates philosophically, but he distances himself
from it by inserting them in the network of phonetic and semantic resonance
which characterizes the Hlderlin-style Begriffsdichtung of the academic prophet.
All of which situates him at the antipodes of the classical academic style, with its
several varieties of frigid rigour, whether elegant and transparent in Cassirer, or
tortured and obscure in Husserl.14

Bourdieu explicitly describes Heidegger then as a conservative revolutionary in

philosophy, something which is overly reductive and simplistic on our reading.
Heidegger simply does not reduce to or overlap with Jnger or Spengler, for example,
as readily as Bourdieu would have us believe, regardless of how many times he
reminds us of the high esteem in which Heidegger held Der Arbeiter. It simply is not
sufficient to try and reduce philosophical texts to biography, sociology or psychology
and Bourdieu is inclined to shift between these registers as though he is fully entitled
to do as much stating rather than demonstrating that
There is no philosophical option neither one that promotes intuition, for
instance, nor, at the other extreme, one that favours judgement or concepts,
nor yet one that gives precedence to the Transcendental Aesthetic over the
Transcendental Analytic, or poetry over discursive language which does not
entail its concomitant academic and political options, and which does not owe to
these secondary, more or less unconsciously assumed options, some of its deepest

Bourdieu is completely subservient to his sociology of knowledge in this regard; it is

also worth remarking that Bourdieu uses the very term (again pejoratively) to characterize Heideggers criticism of twentieth century publicness and technology that we
find in Habermass summary dismissal (i.e. Mandarin):
The opposition between Eigentlichkeit, authenticity, and Uneigentlichkeit,
inauthenticity, those primordial modes of Being-there, as Heidegger says, around
which the whole work is organized (even from the viewpoint of the most strictly
internal readings), is a particular and particularly subtle retranslation of the
common opposition between the elite and the masses. They, (Das Man, literally
one) are tyrannical (the real dictatorship of the they), inquisitorial (they keep
watch over everything), and reduce everything to the lowest level, the universal
they evade their responsibilities, opt out of their liberty: they live on procured
assistance, fecklessly depending on society or the Welfare State which, especially