Martin Heidegger: In Europe and America
When Heidegger's influence was at its zenith in Gennany from the early fifties to the early sixties, most serious students of philosophy in that country were deeply steeped in his thought. His students or students of his students filled many if not most of the major chairs in philosophy. A cloud of reputedly Black Forest mysticism veiled the perspective of many of his critics and admirers at home and abroad. Droves of people flocked to hear lectures by him that most could not understand, even on careful reading, much less on one hearing. He loomed so large that Being and Time frequently could not be seen as a highly imaginative, initial approach to a strictly limited set of questions, but was viewed either as an all-embracing fmt order catastrophy incorporating at once the most feared consequences of Boehme, Kierkegaard, RiIke, and Nietzsche, or as THE ANSWER. But most of that has past. Heidegger's dominance of Gennan philosophy has ceased. One can now brush aside the larger-than-life images of Heidegger, the fears that his language was creating a cult phenomenon, the convictions that only those can understand him who give their lives to his thought. His language is at times unusually difficult, at times simple and beautiful. Some of his insights are obscure and not helpful, others are exciting and clarifying. One no longer expects Heidegger to interpret literature like a literary critic or an academic philologist.