[Marxism] Deserving a place among philosophers

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Nov 9 08:23:40 MST 2009


NY Times, November 9, 2009
An Ethical Question: Does a Nazi Deserve a Place Among Philosophers?
By Patricia Cohen

For decades the German philosopher Martin Heidegger has been the 
subject of passionate debate. His critique of Western thought and 
technology has penetrated deeply into architecture, psychology and 
literary theory and inspired some of the most influential 
intellectual movements of the 20th century. Yet he was also a 
fervent Nazi.

Now a soon-to-be published book in English has revived the 
long-running debate about whether the man can be separated from 
his philosophy. Drawing on new evidence, the author, Emmanuel 
Faye, argues fascist and racist ideas are so woven into the fabric 
of Heidegger’s theories that they no longer deserve to be called 
philosophy. As a result Mr. Faye declares, Heidegger’s works and 
the many fields built on them need to be re-examined lest they 
spread sinister ideas as dangerous to modern thought as “the Nazi 
movement was to the physical existence of the exterminated peoples.”

Full: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/09/books/09philosophy.htm

---

David Hume, “Of National Characters”:

I am apt to suspect the negroes and in general all the other 
species of men (for there are four or five different kinds) to be 
naturally inferior to the whites. There never was a civilized 
nation of any other complexion than white, nor even any individual 
eminent either in action or speculation. No ingenious manufactures 
amongst them, no arts, no sciences. On the other hand, the most 
rude and barbarous of the whites, such as the ancient Germans, the 
present Tartars, have still something eminent about them, in their 
valour, form of government, or some other particular. Such a 
uniform and constant difference could not happen, in so many 
countries and ages, if nature had not made an original distinction 
betwixt these breeds of men. Not to mention our colonies, there 
are Negroe slaves dispersed all over Europe, of which none ever 
discovered any symptoms of ingenuity; tho’ low people, without 
education, will start up amongst us, and distinguish themselves in 
every profession. In Jamaica indeed they talk of one negroe as a 
man of parts and learning; but ‘tis likely he is admired for very 
slender accomplishments, like a parrot, who speaks a few words 
plainly.

---

John Locke, Constitution of Carolina:

“Every freeman of Carolina shall have absolute authority over his 
Negro slaves, of what opinion or Religion so ever.”

---

John Stuart Mill, “Considerations on Representative Government?”:

When proper allowance has been made for geographical exigencies, 
another more purely moral and social consideration offers itself. 
Experience proves that it is possible for one nationality to merge 
and be absorbed in another: and when it was originally an inferior 
and more backward portion of the human race the absorption is 
greatly to its advantage.

---

Immanuel Kant, “From Physical Geography; On Countries That Are 
Known and Unknown To Europeans; Africa”:

When an Indian sees a European going somewhere, he thinks that he 
has something to accomplish. When he comes back, he thinks that he 
has already taken care of his business, but if he sees him going 
out a third time he thinks that he has lost his mind, as the 
European is going for a walk for pleasure, which no Indian does; 
he is only capable of imagining it. Indians are also indecisive, 
and both traits belong to the nations that live very far north. 
The weakening of their limbs is supposedly caused by brandy, 
tobacco, opium and other strong things. From their timidity comes 
superstition, particularly in regard to magic, and the same with 
jealousy. Their timidity makes them into slavish underlings when 
they have kings and evokes an idolatrous reverence in them, just 
as their laziness moves them rather to run around in the forest 
and suffer need than to be held to their labors by the orders of 
their masters.

Montesquieu is correct in his judgment that the weakheartedness 
that makes death so terrifying to the Indian or the Negro also 
makes him fear many things other than death that the European can 
withstand. The Negro slave from Guinea drowns himself if he is to 
be forced into slavery. The Indian women burn themselves. The 
Carib commits suicide at the slightest provocation. The Peruvian 
trembles in the face of an enemy, and when he is led to death, he 
is ambivalent, as though it means nothing. His awakened 
imagination, however, also makes him dare to do something, but the 
heat of the moment is soon past and timidity resumes its old place 
again…

---

Thomas Jefferson, “Notes on the State of Virginia:

A black, after hard labour through the day, will be induced by the 
slightest amusements to sit up till midnight, or later, though 
knowing he must be out with the first dawn of the morning. They 
are at least as brave, and more adventuresome. But this may 
perhaps proceed from a want of forethought, which prevents their 
seeing a danger till it be present. When present, they do not go 
through it with more coolness or steadiness than the whites. They 
are more ardent after their female: but love seems with them to be 
more an eager desire, than a tender delicate mixture of sentiment 
and sensation. Their griefs are transient. Those numberless 
afflictions, which render it doubtful whether heaven has given 
life to us in mercy or in wrath, are less felt, and sooner 
forgotten with them. In general, their existence appears to 
participate more of sensation than reflection. To this must be 
ascribed their disposition to sleep when abstracted from their 
diversions, and unemployed in labour. An animal whose body is at 
rest, and who does not reflect, must be disposed to sleep of 
course. Comparing them by their faculties of memory, reason, and 
imagination, it appears to me, that in memory they are equal to 
the whites; in reason much inferior, as think one could scarcely 
be found capable of tracing and comprehending the investigations 
of Euclid; and that in imagination they are dull, tasteless, and 
anomalous. It would be unfair to follow them to Africa for this 
investigation. We will consider them here, on the same stage with 
the whites, and where the facts are not apocryphal on which a 
judgment is to be formed.It will be right to make great allowances 
for the difference of condition, of education, of conversation, of 
the sphere in which they move. Many millions of them have been 
brought to, and born in America. Most of them indeed have been 
confined to tillage, to their own homes, and their own society: 
yet many have been so situated, that they might have availed 
themselves of the conversation of their masters; many have been 
brought up to the handicraft arts, and from that circumstance have 
always been associated with the whites. Some have been liberally 
educated, and all have lived in countries where the arts and 
sciences are cultivated to a considerable degree, and have had 
before their eyes samples of the best works from abroad. The 
Indians, with no advantages of this kind, will often carve figures 
on their pipes not destitute of design and merit. They will crayon 
out an animal, a plant, or a country, so as to prove the existence 
of a germ in their minds which only wants cultivation. They 
astonish you with strokes of the most sublime oratory; such as 
prove their reason and sentiment strong, their imagination glowing 
and elevated. But never yet could I find that a black had uttered 
a thought above the level of plain narration; never see even an 
elementary trait, of painting or sculpture. In music they are more 
generally gifted than the whites with accurate ears for tune and 
time, and they have been found capable of imagining a small catch. 
Whether they will be equal to the composition of a more extensive 
run of melody, or of complicated harmony, is yet to be proved.




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