A month ago, Yale University Press was drawing criticism over Jytte Klausen’s “The Cartoons That Shook the World.” Now, one of its forthcoming books is inciting controversy of a different kind: An academic debate over whether the German philosopher Martin Heidegger, who was a Nazi, still deserves his place in the Western canon.
A story in today’s New York Times details the debate, which currently centers on “Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy,” written by the French philosopher Emmanuel Faye. The book first came out in France in 2005, and Yale University Press is set to release it in English in a few weeks. In his book, Faye calls on professors to treat Heidegger’s work — which has influenced fields including existentialism, political theory and postmodernism — like hate speech because, according to Faye, it is contaminated by his Nazi ideology. The controversy isn’t new, but Faye’s arguments are the most radical in a long time, and academics are up in arms. One critic, Carlin Romano, has started calling Heidegger a “Black Forest babbler.” Another, The New Republic’s Damon Linker, argued that “to implicate Heidegger’s entire philosophical corpus … is absurd.”
No word on whether Yale’s own philosophy professors will join the fray.