Thursday, April 8, 2010

Tarski or Heidegger: 1929 and 1930

From the years 1929 and 1930, Heidegger has left behind the work that marks his break with Husserl and phenomenology and some very clear signs of his embrace of Ernst Jünger and a radical conservative revolution - and an extreme cult "historical" nationalism that Heidegger never renounced and for which he never apologized to its victims - especially the Polish (mourning to Marcuse only the displaced Ost-Deutschen - the theme he likely took with Paul Celan.)

Tarski, on the other hand, left logic with ground-breaking work in each of those years.  One reason that I mention this is that Tarski was the teacher of Julia Robinson.

We now know the role that Husserl played in the fate of both Edith Stein and Afra Geiger: Heidegger worked briefly with the former and Hannah Arendt mentions the latter in her correspondence with him.  Jaspers reports being with Heidegger at Husserl's home in Freiburg and raising the case of his student, Afra Geiger.

Afra Geiger's fate was to perish in the Ravensbrück death camp.

Had Afra Geiger been accepted by Husserl, had Husserl not written his back-handed letter on Stein to the Göttingen philosophy department (and had they met in the open) both young philosophers might have survived.

When a young philosophy student - about to graduate - remarked to me that his university, having no graduate school, had no course on Heidegger - I tried to explain that this was no loss.  Better a course on Jaspers or Cassirer.  I should have said: better a course on Twardowski and Tarski.

And what of Cassirer? In 1942, Susanne Langer publishes "Philosophy in a New Key".  To read its last chapter and then the gnome's 1943 publication, "Vom Wesen der Wahrheit" is very sobering.  Imagine for a moment that Langer had any reason to feel that some lectures of hers in Germany in the early thirties had led to some misplaced enthusiasm for conservative extremism - imagine with what feeling she would have announced a correction, a clarification, in 1943 - or in subsequent editions.

Cassirer, like Paul Valéry, died in 1945 and so was not able to reply to Heidegger when he resumed teaching at Freiburg after his all-too-brief exclusion.  Valéry on poetry or Heidegger?  Michael Hamburger on Mallarmé or Walter Biemel deferring to the Master?

When Heidegger opens his lecture on Hölderlin and the Essence of poetry, he make a fallacious claim which Tarski would have disposed of immediately.  So even there, perhaps better Tarski on Mereology for poetics (which via Kit Fine leads back to the Husserl of the LU) than Heidegger on fate, the people and historical up-rising.

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