Heidegger, Existentialism and Julius Evola’s Distorted Interpretation

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Introduction

In Alexander Dugin’s book Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning, Dugin says of Julius Evola’s Ride the Tiger that Evola made the “mistake of interpreting Heidegger hastily and superficially from the traditionalist perspective […] in which he presents Heidegger’s ideas and terminology in a highly inaccurate and distorted manner and criticizes them in an even less justified, naïve way.” 1 This brutal analysis by Dugin is, in all honesty, completely justified.

I had previously tried to read Ride the Tiger on a couple occasions, admittedly I never got too far into it as it seemed like nothing more than a dull rehash of the more enjoyable work that Evola had wrote before it. I tried to skip ahead in bits and pieces to see if it grew more interesting, I rolled my eyes trying to read his ‘interpretation’ of Heidegger and then abandoned it. It wasn’t until I was reading Dugin’s book on Heidegger when I encountered the above quote that I decided to open the book back up and see just how ‘hasty and superficial’ Evola really was, only to realise that Dugin was actually generous in his remark. Using the word ‘superficial’ was actually being kind, Evola had no clue at all about what he was writing about. One may say that Evola may not have actually read any Heidegger, nor inquired into who he was (given that Evola and Heidegger were both in the same circles, both communicated regularly with Ernst Jünger and others, surely if Evola was going to write about Heidegger he could have actually asked around if someone could put him in contact with Heidegger himself?)

At the beginning of this essay I was more even handed with what I wrote, I reserved some sympathy for Evola, and I tried to consider him as misguided. The problem with this is that I have not just studied Heidegger, but I have studied Sartre and Existentialism as well. I am by no means an expert, but I have been acquainted with Heidegger and Sartre’s work for a few years now. My prior knowledge of their philosophy and a historical understanding of both philosophers and also of Evola allowed me to see (a large portion but probably not all of) the multitude of cracks underlying Evola’s work. Clearly the shell that partially paralysed him in Vienna left his mind somewhat disorientated, how else could he arrive at the conclusion that a critique of Heidegger without knowing anything about Heidegger could be a sensible idea?

My sympathy subsided over the weeks I worked on this essay, in this disappearance I came to realise that sympathy is unjustifiable to begin with, we should not approach anyone writing with sympathy in the first place. How else are we to identify the legitimacy of someone’s ideas and determine their actual value? I decided that anyone who wants to provide intellectual work, ideas which will contribute to the development and success of a future-movement, must be disconnected from any and all movements, if you associate with a movement you are subject to biases, your work will become repetitive, it will be of no use. You will not write anything of value because you will be writing for others, to contribute ideas of value you must be independent, a free-spirit in the truest Nietzschean sense.

The repetativity in Evola’s work and the biases that plagued his ‘interpretation’ of Heidegger stem from the very thing that Dugin highlighted, he approached the writing of his subjects from a faulty position that clouded his ability to truly grasp Heidegger (and even the Existentialists) was saying, not that he really read any of Heidegger’s work in the first place.

Ride the Tiger was a negation, he realised that his utopian desire to return to the past was impossible, and the hatched job Ride the Tiger symbolises the ‘failed revolution’ as Slavoj Zizek would say. Evola’s realisation that the past could not be returned to mark the antithesis of the ‘dialectical triad’:

Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis

The past is too far away to retreat to, Evola puts forward his ‘wet/dry path’ alternatives. But as Cavalcare le Tigre is first published, the synthesis is already beginning to for: For a Positive Critique by Dominque Venner begins to circulate, over the next decade GRECE arises. From this intellectual development arises a curiosity, more and more thinkers emerge that see that the past cannot be returned too, but the archaic roots can be retrieved and used as a footing from which to build something new and old. The Left’s idea of a ‘transvaluation of values’ is to turn a cake upside down and present it to you as something ‘new’, this is best characterised as the remaking of a classic movie with a cast determined not by skill but ‘intersectionality score.’ Whereas a true transvaluation does not through away everything and wipe the slate clean, nor does it enact the polar opposite of what existed before. It determines what is essential and what still functions and clears away the rubble. The clearest example of the decadence of modern man is someone who throws away something that breaks instead of fixing it, this is something Heidegger himself had noticed.

The peak development to come from this synthesis was developed by Guillaume Faye. In Archeofuturism Faye states that:

“Our current of thought has always been torn and weakened by an artificial distinction contrasting ‘traditionalists’ with those ‘who look towards the future’. Archeofuturism can reconcile these two families through a dialectic overcoming.” 2

“It is necessary to reconcile Evola and Marinetti. The new concept of Archeofuturism draws upon the organic, unifying and radical thought of Friedrich Nietzsche and Martin Heidegger: to imagine technological science and the immemorial community of traditional society together – never one without the other […] Globally, the future calls for a return to ancestral values across the entire Earth.” 3

Martin Heidegger saw Friedrich Nietzsche as the man that marked the end of Western metaphysics, a decline that he believed began with Plato. Nietzsche delivered blow after blow of his hammer into the decaying structure of Western metaphysics, Heidegger sifted through the rubble to retrieve the archaic (foundational) roots that we can carry with us into the future and build something new and incorporate within that structure something borrowed from the past, the essential elements for a new society built upon ancient, organic values. A new foundation.

For us to build this foundation we must remove that which is blocking the authentic Right from retrieving the important philosophy identified by Heidegger, that he collected through the rubble for us. If that means we must take a hammer to Evola, so be it. This does not deny any wisdom that Evola provided, but Evola’s own status in the dissident Right does not accord him immunity either. There is no immunity, no one is safe from the test of the hammer, not Evola nor Nietzsche himself. If an idol must become ruins in the process of our overcoming of modernity, then move out of the way or face the hammer yourself.

This essay is divided into two divisions. Division one seeks to separate Heidegger and Sartre and explain some of the overlap between Heidegger and Evola; division two focuses on addressing points in Ride the Tiger (we will explain the content of these divisions further down below). This is not the sole reason for separating the essay in this manner. To try and convey the ideas of two very difficult philosophers in an accessible manner is daunting by-itself. But to this I have added the task of explaining the differences between Heidegger and Sartre, and also disproving a large chunk of Evola’s book – all in the space of an essay.

If I was to spend the entire essay explain the theories of Sartre and Heidegger simultaneously this essay would most likely be dull, uneventful and many people would not finish it. Thus, I had to find a way to keep the writing entertaining while conveying their ideas and my own thesis. Continuous changes in structure were made until I decided to settle by focusing more on Sartre and Existentialism for division one while speaking of Heidegger minimally, then to switch the emphasis to Heidegger in division two. Heidegger is by far the harder of the two to understand, though he did precede Sartre. This might give some impression that we are backwards towards Heidegger’s thought through Sartre, but this isn’t the case, the intention of this essay is to make clear that these two philosophers are different to remove any confusion left in the readers by Evola.

This obviously won’t be a substantial, in depth introduction to Heidegger, Sartre and Existentialism. I have endeavoured to convey ideas relevant to my thesis as best, as briefly and as clear as possible. In doing so I have tried to avoid introducing too much terminology, where I can I have spoken about concepts in normal everyday language, as if I am chatting with you while having a few beers at a pub. I do hope that those who read this essay whom possess no knowledge of the topic at hand leave with a desire to pursue Heidegger’s work further. That said, despite all the criticism we can direct towards Sartre, by no means should he be written off by the Right. Every philosopher has something of utility in his work, the Right spend too much time moaning and complaining in worthless texts about ‘postmodernism’, ‘cultural Marxism’ and so forth instead of seeing what utility can be obtained to either form new ideas or even use them against themselves. And to put it bluntly, this is why the authentic Right has not yet achieved anything, as a movement it has not yet learned that dead weight must be discarded; leave their bodies for the vultures while we press on and change the world.

In all honesty we can actually dismiss Evola’s work with just a very short statement: Heidegger was not an Existentialist, he preceded Existentialism, he influenced Existentialism – but he was not an Existentialist. If we can assign the label Existentialist, then we must also call Hegel a Marxist, Freud a Lacanian, and Evola a Nietzschean (I think we are all aware of how Evola would react to being called Nietzschean instead of a Traditionalist, but if we are going to go by the same standards Evola applied to Heidegger then Evola could hardly reject the label). This simple dismissal is simply not enough in this case, however. To remove the damage possibly done by Evola with this highly popular – but completely disingenuous – text we must be more through.

Division One:

As previously stated, the first division serves to separate Heidegger and Sartre while also exposing some similarities between Heidegger and Evola. We will be dealing with the subject in a more historical and personal context, though avoiding using any information that would not have been available to Evola. In regard to Heidegger and Sartre, we will be explaining many of the distinctions between the two in the context of their political views. Some may say this idea is problematic and take issue with focusing on their philosophy in a political context, to this I say: How a philosopher believes society should be structured is a clear expression of their philosophical world-view. Given what was occurring in the period in which we are focused on, to discuss their work in this context is legitimate.

We must here state that Heidegger was by no means a political philosopher, he made it very clear that this was not his concern. The closest he ever approached political philosophy was a lecture course Nation, History, State in 1933-1934 (a collection of student protocols have been published by Bloomsbury). Though much of his work between 1932-1945 has quite a lot of nationalistic references, he was by no means a political theorist. He was an ontologist and a product of the inter-war period.

It is not a coincidence that Heidegger was drawn to National Socialism and Sartre to Marxism. Heidegger saw (initially) a challenge to the modernity he detested, and Sartre saw the next dialectical shift that would lead to international communism. Sartre sought to continue the progress of these very things that Heidegger had an aversion of; mass production (but controlled by workers instead), the atomisation of the individual and some very repulsive social values (the 1977 petition to change the age of consent in France).4 Sartre embraced Nietzsche’s proclamation of the ‘Death of God’ in the positive atheistic sense, nihilism for Sartre is a positive; Heidegger saw it in the true Nietzschean sense as part of the Decline of the West. Nihilism must be overcome. Bear in mind this distinction between anti-materialism and pro-materialism as it will remain relevant throughout the essay.

‘A […] phenomenon of the modern age is the loss of the gods. This expression does not mean the mere doing away with the gods, gross atheism. […] The loss of the gods is a situation of indecision regarding God and the gods. […] But the loss of the gods is so far from excluding religiosity that rather only through that loss is the relation to the gods changed into mere “religious experience.” When this occurs, then the gods have fled.’ 5

Division Two

In division two we will move onto discussing Ride the Tiger itself and shift our emphasis from Sartre to Heidegger. While explaining some of Heidegger’s core ideas we present some examples of how Evola has misrepresented Heidegger’s work, giving readers the false impression that Heidegger, Sartre (and even Karl Jaspers) are all somehow philosophically connected. We will also introduce some possible indications that Evola may have not actually studied any of Heidegger’s work, I believe it is highly likely that Evola at most glanced at some of Heidegger’s work. Evola’s section on Existentialism is nothing more than an inductive fallacy. His intention is clearly to attack Sartre, but instead of just attacking Sartre he throws in a few other people in an attempt to add more weight to his argument, subsequently he has undermined his own argument by attempting to portray himself as an authority while producing an incoherent rant that (sadly) people who hold him in esteem will naively follow.

In a lecture on Heidegger Jonathan Bowden framed this idiotic conflation of Heidegger and Existentialism perfectly:

“Now, many people, sort of undergraduates, people who go on Channel 4 Documentaries, say that Martin Heidegger is an existentialist. And he influenced enormously that school, but in actual fact he is not an existentialist, hence the endless intellectual complication. He is as far removed as that, whilst being tangential to it, as one can possibly imagine. Now, he is a radical essentialist of the most primary and foundation form.” 6

This is to say, Heidegger believed (correctly) that there is an essential foundation to us, we have a nature, we have a cultural identity. Something very on par with Evola. The Existentialists opposed this, they reject the idea of innate characteristic, as we will show. Heidegger makes this clear in his work that he holds this view, one inline with Evola, yet Evola did not notice this for some reason, this extreme difference between Heidegger and the Existentialists, I wonder why he wouldn’t have noticed such a thing.

Addressing points in Ride the Tiger itself is more of a formality after division one, we already make it clear that the two are completely different in division one, and that Heidegger and Jaspers are not even Existentialists to begin with. But if we do not address a few of the points in the book itself you, dear reader, would be left with doubts about the legitimacy of my argument as well. But if we must pick apart Ride the Tiger we may as well do so while providing a positive alternative to that which we critique.

Division One

§1

Being and Time was published in 1927, preceding Jean-Paul Sartre’s Being and Nothingness (the text which marks the beginning of Sartrean Existentialism, published in 1943) by 16 years. On October 19th, 1945, Sartre delivered his lecture Existentialism is a Humanism in which he foolishly included Heidegger amongst the atheistic Existentialists:

“there are two kinds of existentialists: on the Christians, among whom I would include Karl Jaspers and Gabriel Marcel, both professed Catholics; and, on the other, the atheistic existentialists, among whom we should place Heidegger, as well as the French existentialists and myself.” 1

Heidegger’s response to Sartre lecture was not exactly cordial. In 1946 wrote Letter on Humanism,Heidegger placed himself “worlds away from Sartre,” 2 While Heidegger did have positive things to say about Sartre, he by no means accepted entirely Sartre’s Existentialism. Most of his compliments appear to be focused on the form that Sartre delivered his philosophy, such as his use of examples like skiing and his famous waiter analogy (a form of delivery used further in turning his philosophy into novels like Nausea and The Age of Reason). 3

Being and Time “was planned in two parts, but not even the first part was quite finished,” Heidegger later turned what was meant to be the second part “into separate essays or lectures over the next few years.” 10 The ‘third division of the first part, “Time and Being” was held back’, due to his difficulty in turning from Being and Time to Time and Being and the inability to escape ‘the language of metaphysics’ did not help. 4

What is ‘the language of metaphysics’? Heidegger sought to free Western philosophy from Western metaphysics which he believed had entered a decline that began with Plato and culminated in Friedrich Nietzsche.

“Through the overturning of metaphysics accomplished by Nietzsche, there remains for metaphysics nothing but a turning aside into its own inessentiality and disarray.” 5

This isn’t to say that he fully rejected philosophy from this period, of course. Western philosophy has not provided any satisfactory answers to questions such as “why are there beings at all instead of nothing?” 6 A question like this may sound absurd to many people from the outset. People who are religious may say that the answer to this is, of course, God. But this does not actually answer our question, we cannot answer philosophical questions with faith. Philosophy must ask all questions and it must venture to the very heart of these questions. A Christian may answer in the way we suggest, but then a philosopher must ask the question ‘but why would God create us at all?’ This is not something that a Christian can provide an answer for which will satisfy either the asked or the Christian, religion requires faith, philosophy cannot answer with faith. This does not deny the existence of a God, but it denies that philosophy or theology can provide answers to each other’s questions.

Take democracy, for example (and I do not mean the actual democracy of Athens, I mean the “democracy” we have now). Many people are under the belief that democracy can enact the will of the people, that legitimacy comes from the will of the people, that if we ‘fix’ our current system we can have a legitimate democracy that will provide solutions to all the problems, that a ‘truly representative democracy’ is an answer to our questions. If every country was democratic and all elections were based on a popular vote, then we would all live-in harmony. This is putting faith in a utopian ideal. I know some may take issue with this example I am using as it is not the same as God but put aside this miniscule grievance and hear me out.

People that think like this are putting their faith in a huge, singular answer when there is a multitude of questions under this shiny, shallow answer: “representative democracy”. But anyone with half a brain would call this utopianism delusional, and many across the Left and Right would dismiss this. The answer is not as simple as making some tweaks to a system which is designed to fail. Tyranny of the (ill-informed) Majority is a dangerous idea, a majority that is misinformed by a corrupt media system, that worships celebrities and makes their decision based on subjective morality is not going to create a better, healthier and more cohesive nation, their decisions making skills allow manipulation (the desire to help people is a noble desire, but foolish when you allow it to cloud your better judgement). If we are to avoid a Tyranny of the (ill-informed) Majority we must dive deeper, there are many questions that need to be answered, and they must be answered in an impartial and honest way which must also involve putting aside morality – we must go beyond good and evil.

The purpose of philosophy is to dive deeply into questions, we cannot use faith to answer philosophical questions, just as we cannot say that abandoning institutions which prevent people in cities holding a monopoly national decisions – people with no clue about life outside the city,  no clue about life outside of their demented bubble, no understanding of how much they depend on those people who they look down upon because they do not adhere to their gender dysphoric doctrine.

Just as theoretical physicists who believe that philosophy is dead ironically cannot provide any solutions about restructuring society and solving the European Nihilism permeating throughout the West (for example, Lawrence Krauss. Would you really want a narcissist who buddies up with Jeffrey Epstein making decisions about society and morality?),7 theology cannot provide answers about philosophy, and philosophy cannot provide answers about theology, ‘A “Christian Philosophy” is a round square and a misunderstanding.’ 8

Heidegger sought to provide a ‘phenomenology of ontology.’ 9 He wanted to understand the meaning of being (ontological, and not “ontic-ontological primacy” as Evola suggests on page 79).Everyday people may find the questions ontology asks to be absurd, if this is your initial reaction to what has been said so far then I ask of you to ask yourself a question, what do you mean when you say the word ‘Being’? There are some words in our vocabulary that we use but we cannot properly define. We may be able to provide a short definition, but they are vague and do not really an answer, if anything they make the word more obscure than it already is.

“it is held that ‘Being’ is of all concepts the one that is self-evident. Whenever one cognizes anything or makes an assertion, […] some use is made of ‘Being’; and this expression is held to be intelligible ‘without further ado’, just as everyone understands ‘The sky is blue’, I am merry’, and the like. But here we have an average kind of intelligibility, which merely demonstrates that this is unintelligible. It makes manifest that in any way of comporting oneself towards entities as entities […] there lies a priori an enigma. The very fact that we already live in an understanding of Being and that the meaning of Being is still veiled in darkness proves that it is necessary in principle to raise this question again.” 10

What does Being mean according to an internet search? ‘Existence’, ‘The nature or essence of a person’, these aren’t really definitive statements, are they? If we ask, ‘what is a light’? We can provide a simple definition by pure reason, it is that which illuminates a dark space. With that said, we can go even deeper, this definition itself does not actually provide an answer, light is produced by a particle called a photon, it is the only massless particle, that allows it to move ‘at the speed of light’. Just to annoy you, let us make another concept more difficult than it seems at first. If we say, that item over there is a chair, what constitutes our definition? “It is something we sit on” does not really work, we can sit on a table, we can sit on a pile of magazines, that does not make these things chairs. If someone is to render these somewhat pedantic questions absurd, it is merely because we in the West have been conditioned in a way to stop asking questions about the structure of our reality. The Western world is built upon Western philosophy, does it not seem odd that we are being encouraged away from it, that we look down upon it? The Western world is built upon philosophy, yet the faculties in universities are dominated by the far-Left, am I the only one that finds this peculiar? It is almost like philosophy is purposely being dominated by pseudo-Marxists…. I mean, philosophy still influences all other fields, Michel Foucault is the most cited academic, and the public has been conditioned to dismiss asking themselves questions, they don’t think any more they just consume endless media, they sit and watch tv screens instead of reading books…

It is important for us to create a solid foundation to build Western society upon, we must have an understanding of who we are and how we work so we can structure our society accordingly. To understand what works and doesn’t work we must understand ourselves, our minds, our consciousness, its connection to our language, how we work together as groups, how our cultures form, how we interact with objects and how we define them. Heidegger sought to understand these everyday things, or everydayness.

Despite Armin Mohler’s The Conservative Revolution in Germany devoting “no space to Martin Heidegger in his book, although his work has been frequently studied from the standpoint of the relations the philosopher maintained with Ernst Jünger or Carl Schmitt”, Heidegger was very much a part of the Conservative Revolution. 11

A product of the inter-war period, Heidegger became very gripped by the potential of the National Socialist revolution. And like many others in the circles that both Evola and Heidegger were a part of, he became disenfranchised. He opposed the National Socialists misuse of Nietzsche’s philosophy, their hyper-focus on race, etc. Heidegger actually had the same idea as Evola did in Italy, Heidegger wanted to the philosopher of the movement, the Platonian ‘Philosopher King’ (we will speak more of this further on in section three).

“what is peddled nowadays as the philosophy of National Socialism, but which has not the least to do with the inner truth and greatness of this movement [namely, the encounter between global technology and modern humanity], is fishing in these troubled waters of “values” and “totalities.” 12

In the 1930s as the NSDAP was growing and gaining power, a once apolitical Heidegger became concerned with politics and the potentiality it had on reshaping society. Now, it would be incorrect to say that Heidegger became a political philosopher in this period. He was still an ontologist, he did not become a political theorist. We can here draw our first contrast between Heidegger and Sartre. Heidegger was concerned with understanding how ‘we work’ to put it crudely. He wanted to understand us, his intention wasn’t to create a philosophy of praxis. Whereas Sartre very much was.

Karl Marx said in Theses of Feuerbach:

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point, however, is to change it.” 13

What we have with Heidegger is someone who perceived the decline in modernity (Heidegger was very aware of this early on, in 1920 he delivered a series of lectures on Oswald Spengler) 14 and wanted to resolve it by reaching the heart of ontological questions and correcting the mistakes which led to the decline. Heidegger wanted to provide a concrete understanding of existence, he didn’t view nihilism as something positive, something which Evola really failed to grasp (somehow). Like Evola he saw the revolutions in Italy and Germany as something which could potentially revolt against nihilism and bring forward something positive and authentic. Sartre, however, was going in the opposite direction. Sartre’s philosophy begun under the influence of socialism from the start. Socialism is a praxis philosophy inherently (there is obviously nuance in socialism, not all socialism is Marxist, most people naturally connect socialism to Marxism because most modern socialists claim to be Marxists, though ignore his works that oppose things like censorship). 15 The distinction between Heidegger’s work and Sartre’s work is that Heidegger wanted to ‘interpret’ existence, Sartre wanted to change it radically. Heidegger saw National Socialism as something that could oppose modern Western metaphysics, but he didn’t create a philosophy which had a practical utility, whereas Sartre created a philosophy (especially in his post-Being and Nothingness work like Search for a Method and Critique of Dialectical Reason) of action. The difference in intention between Sartre and Heidegger creates a huge void between the two which Evola was too blind to perceive, maybe instead of a monocle he should have acquired a proper set of glasses.

Evola failed to take numerous things into account, he didn’t seem to notice the large difference between Heidegger and Sartre, like the fact that Sartrean Existentialism originated in Paris towards the end of World War Two while Being and Time was published in a phenomenology journal 16 years earlier; that Heidegger doesn’t even refer to his work as Existentialism, he talks about the existential and existentiality; that he doesn’t ever refer himself at any point as part of the Existentialist movement – which did not even exist in this period.

To be fair, Evola is not alone in this stupidity. To this day academics still place Heidegger in with existentialists, alongside Nietzsche and Kierkegaard. So-called modern “academics” are far too sheltered and separated from reality to be able to grasp the difference between someone who influenced and someone who was a part of a movement. Would you call a typewriter a laptop? You can carry it about, use it to write essays and books, all that is different really is the lack of a screen, the ability to use the internet, you can’t play Minecraft on it, but it is basically a laptop, right? Heidegger, Nietzsche and Kierkegaard preceded Sartre, but I mean, they may as well be Existentialists, right? No, this is assertion is devoid of common sense, and anyone who makes this argument should be stripped of their qualifications.

§2

The influence on Heidegger on Sartre’s work is obvious and undeniable. But this influence should not be overexaggerated either. A lot of Sartre’s ideas can be linked to other philosophers besides Heidegger, much of the overlap can be linked to Sartre’s influence from philosophers that also influenced Heidegger, that does not necessitate a complete overlap such as Evola asserts by throwing Heidegger, Sartre, Jaspers and so-forth in throwing them all together and making a handful of minor distinctions. Evola gives the impression all these philosophers are essentially the same (while also overplaying the role of Nietzsche in this as well). It is worth quickly mentioning here that Karl Jaspers was also not an Existentialist, he rejected the label on multiple occasions, and he also preceded Existentialism by even earlier than Heidegger (he was 6 years his senior). Karl Jaspers was actually a psychiatrist who went on to study theology and philosophy. Heidegger himself actually studied his doctorate under “Professor Arthur Schneider, holder of the Chair of Catholic Philosophy, […] a Catholic historian with a great reputation”. 16 The way Evola paints all these figures as some conglomerate of “modern men […] severed from the world of Tradition and devoid of any knowledge or comprehension of that world” 17 really is hysterically embarrassing. Did Evola even look into these people he was writing about? No, probably not, otherwise he would know that he actually has a lot in common with Heidegger! (The level of self-restraint this essay requires is really not sustainable).

There are a few different accounts of when exactly Sartre encountered Heidegger’s work, but there is consistency in the fact that Sartre travelled “to Berlin in 1930 to study” Husserlian phenomenology. 18

In ‘1931 Heidegger’s lectures “The Essence of Reason” and “What is Metaphysics?”’ were published in France. They were the first translations of Heidegger into French. It wasn’t until 1938 that anymore translations were made, a book with selections from a couple more lectures and two chapters from Being and Time (Care and Death). 19

Unless Sartre knew how to speak fluent German, and it is likely he knew a little bit if he studied in Berlin briefly, there is little weight behind accounts suggesting he studied Being and Time in the early 1930s, Heidegger is difficult enough for regular Germans to read, I doubt that Sartre had a better grasp on German than any undergraduates in Heidegger’s lectures who grappled with his obscure use of their native language. Thus, we will say here that Sartre read Being and Time in occupied France in 1940.

While ideas from Being and Time definitely influenced Sartre, I would argue that Alexander Kojéve and his interpretations of Hegel had much more of an impact:

“Aleksandr Vladimirovich Kozhevnikov – his original name – came from the Russian high aristocracy and, after the October Revolution, had fled to Germany in 1920.” 20

Kojéve’s lectures on Hegel were partly inspired by Husserlian phenomenology from the period he spent in Germany. Kojéve’s huge influence in France created curiosity towards phenomenology amongst the Parisian circles. Sartre later on made his was to Germany in 1933-1934 to study phenomenology.

Sartre carried over the Hegelian use of being-for-itself and being-in-itself to differentiate between, to put it simply but crudely, you or I as the subject (being-for-itself­) and other objects within or immediate existence (being-for-itself).

We will summarise Sartre’s ideas briefly while remaining as possible in a short space. (I will add that I am not making any assertions here about Kojéve’s work, I do not know all that much about it).

§3

You, I and all other Beings/subjects are free, we have complete freedom, we can define ourselves as whatever we want. We come into the world without a fixed essence. I am not referring to the idea that will first come to your head in our modern era as you read this, you know, transvestitism, using ‘attack helicopter’ as your pronoun. That said, it is somewhat of a logical consequence to Sartre’s Existentialism. Though Sartre would absolutely hate the idea of an extremely attractive woman dressing like a boy, as would Albert Camus. Possibly, it might turn them into Right-wing reactionaries. But anyway… Existentialism is briefly stated as ‘existence precedes essence’, therefore “man is condemned to be free.” 21

What does this mean? It means modern man is in a quandary. Bearing in mind that Sartre wrote this whilst in in occupied France, as a socialist he opposed Fascism. Maybe it is best put by quoting his essay Anti-Semite and Jew which he wrote in 1944. Sartre states that a Fascist ‘is someone desiring to be “an implacable rock, a fierce torrent, a devastating stroke of lightning – anything except a human being.”’ 22

At this point we should address the fact that Heidegger does not subscribe to this notion of ‘existence precedes essence’, a belief which one must hold to be an Existentialist just as one must believe in a God or Gods to be religious. Heidegger does in ¶9 that “the ‘essence of Dasein lies in its existence”, but this is not the same as Sartre’s notion at all. Existence preceding essence denies the existence of a human nature; thus, Existentialism adheres to the tabula rasa theory (human beings are a blank slate) – Heidegger does not take this view. (For now just think of the word Dasein as ‘I’).

If we take into account the entirety of Being and Time (which Evola hasn’t done at all), our ‘essence’ is open in the sense that we can interpret ourselves and work out who we are, but as he goes on to discuss throughout the book, we are ourselves shaped by the world in which we are in. Now, it is no secret that Heidegger was very much unhappy with the direction that Europe was heading at the time, he took issue with the ‘culture’ of Weimar in particular – he saw customs and culture as a good thing, but obviously not the ones at present he saw as decadent. (As we will speak of later on, Heidegger did not want to be seen as a critique of culture or anything like that, but his work itself does contain criticisms nevertheless, though most of these criticisms are conveyed in his own, philosophical way. His critiques on technology and art in particular are insightful, ontological investigations, though they are undeniably still criticisms of modernity).

Any attempt to conflate Heidegger and Sartre’s statements on essence and existence is done so in a superficial and unjustifiable manner. You cannot reconcile an opposition to radical individualism, tabula rasa and freedom with a philosophy that argues in favour of these three crucial notions. To consider Heidegger an Existentialist he would need to agree on the basic principles of Existentialism, the fact he criticised Existentialisms basic tenets (as did Albert Camus and Karl Jaspers) makes any association of Heidegger tenuous and unwarranted.

For Sartre, man wants to become a thing, the for-itself (man) has complete freedom but wants to become an in-itself (other Beings that we encounter in the world like rocks as Sartre states above). We seek to become objects, to objectify ourselves. We ‘shackle ourselves in chains’ to avoid our freedom, we must accept our freedom or remain in our mauvaise foi (Bad Faith), I think you know where this is going…

“The proletarians have nothing to lose but their chains.” 23

This quote from the Communist Manifesto is not done just as a jest, between pages 436-444 of Being and Nothingness, Sartre actually talks about class consciousness and oppression. I believe we can justifiably state that Existentialism is inherently Marxist in character. This serves to further disassociate Heidegger from Existentialism.

Kojéve’s rise to prominence brought with it a wave of Hegelianism. An upsurge in Hegelian thought is bound to lead to curiosity in his idea of history as a constant progression towards human freedom (Hegel viewed history as a progression towards Freedom, this is outlined in his famous introduction to Philosophy of History), which is then going to lead to more interest in Marx’s secularised version of Hegel’s theory of history. We shall highlight here a few short passages to show the association between Hegel, Marx and Sartre:

“All will readily assent to the doctrine that Spirit, among other properties, is also endowed with Freedom; but philosophy teaches that all qualities of Spirit exist only through Freedom; that all are a means for attaining Freedom; that all seek and produce this and this alone. It is a result of speculative Philosophy, that Freedom is the sole truth of Spirit.” 24

“Matter has its essence out of itself; Spirit is self-contained existence (Bei-sich-selbst-seyn). Now this is Freedom, exactly. For if I am dependent, my being is referred to something else which I am not; I cannot exist independently of something external. I am free, on the contrary, when my existence depends upon myself. This self-contained existence of Spirit is none other than self-consciousness – consciousness of one’s own being.” 25

“The History of the world is none other than the progress of the consciousness of Freedom; a progress whose development according to the necessity of its nature, it is our business to investigate. […] The destiny of the spiritual World, […] the final cause of the World at large, we allege to be the consciousness of its own freedom on the part of Spirit, and ipso facto, the reality of that freedom.” 26

Marx went on to turn Hegel’s idea of history from something connected to religion: “The German nations, under the influence of Christianity, were the first to attain the consciousness, that man, as man, is free: that it is the Freedom of the Spirit which constitutes this essence. This consciousness arose first in religion…” 27 into a materialist interpretation based on economics, production based on a tripartite/triad dialectic.

Thesis – Antithesis – Synthesis

For Hegel this progression was towards freedom of the Spirit, for Marx is it the emancipation of the worker. For Sartre (while retaining the Socialist element of Marx’s thesis), it is the ‘Absolute’ freedom of the individual in a truly anarchist fashion. So much so that Sartre went as far as to join in the aforementioned cause of drastically reducing the age of consent. A proposal that is very much in line with Michel Foucault’s sexual liberation insanity (see History of Sexuality Volumes 1, 2 & 3). Later in his career Sartre would write Search for a Method and Critique of Dialectical Reason. These two books are an attempt to fully unite Existentialism with Marxism, written in a period when French Existentialism was disappearing, being replaced by the rise of Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault, both of whom were themselves heavily influenced by Heidegger. Both Search and Critique made little impact. Volume one of Critique can hardly be finished, and volume two was posthumously published. While Existentialism already had its Marxist intentions, the shift in emphasis from a more phenomenology-based method to Marxian doesn’t seem to have left any impact at all.

I feel it justifiable to argue that Being and Nothingness isn’t really a continuation of Heidegger’s work at all. I do not say this in some pejorative manner, this isn’t personal grievances or anything of that nature, I am merely making an objective statement: I am saying that Sartre created something different to Heidegger. Being and Nothingness is the product of a truly nihilistic period in European history. The Conservative Revolution of the inter-war period were a product of extreme tensions, an energetic spirit that was in opposition to the circumstances placed on Germany. They saw that there was a growing Spirit amongst the people who wanted to free themselves from their masters.

Works like Being and Nothingness and Nausea by Sartre are the product of a truly nihilistic energy growing through Europe. The success of Sartre’s ideas (this isn’t to say that none of his ideas have utility, but that is something which would require an essay of its own) resonated with Europeans because there was a sense of emptiness. This nihilistic energy was the product of a war that could have been avoided, an unnecessary war. Worse still, probably not the last unavoidable war on European soil. But I digress. Heidegger and Sartre’s understanding of freedom provides a crystal-clear image of the void between them. And so, we will end this division by moving deeper into their understanding of freedom, subjectivity, individualism and fate.

§4

Sartre was very much someone who embraced atomization of the individual, Heidegger, on the other hand, was more into die Volk:

“The Führer alone is the present and future German reality and its law. Learn to know ever more deeply: from now on ever single thing demands decision, and every action responsibility. Heil Hitler!” 28

While we are devoting division two to Ride the Tiger it is worth taking a jab at Evola saying that Sartre’s view of ‘“Freedom, choice, nihilation, and temporalization are one and the same thing.”’ And that “this view is shared by other existentialists, especially by Heidegger,” 29 This is a completely disingenuous association and it is frankly cringeworthy and dishonest. It really shows that he has made no effort to study the subject matter at all.

Firstly, Sartre made numerous misunderstandings about Heidegger’s work (which is kind of understandable really as at the time Sartre wrote Being and Nothingness Heidegger was not that well known in France and other regions in Europe. Post-WW2, however, Heidegger obviously gained more notoriety (for both his innovative work and his denazification).

When Sartre was reading Heidegger, he would not have had many people around him to bounce interpretations off of – as opposed to Evola in the 1950s; Evola who knew German fluently and had been translating books from German to Italian, and also could have easily arranged to meet Heidegger himself.

Heidegger was not someone who rejected the history of a people determining their individual character whereas Sartre’s ‘existence precedes essence’ itself denies the existence of determining characteristics, culture, morality, things that someone of Heidegger’s disposition see as being passed down. The problem Heidegger had with modernist values is that they are built upon a subjectivist foundation.

Rene Descartes’ subjectivity creates a standing point where we see all that is around as merely objects which we can shape to suit our own desires, we objectify the world, we harness natures power to power our own individualist pleasure-principle. We see the world as not something we live in, but a tool, a technology. Not an end, but a means to an end.

Take the more absurd example, biology. We know objectively that a man is a man, and a woman is a woman. However, if we adhere to the Cartesian idea of subjectivity a man/woman can say they feel like a woman/man, it is ‘my reality’. And if you are to say ‘no’ to this assertion you ‘deny their reality’. This is why we so regularly hear this accusation that you “deny my humanity” (or whatever third-word they select), they conflate opposition to the ‘acceptance’ of their “identity” with a denial of their existence. In actual fact, this reaffirms the diagnoses of mental illness. If you are genuinely unable to differentiate between reality and fantasy, then you are yourself legitimately mentally ill. If you ask anyone with schizophrenia or bipolar to explain their experience while having an episode, they will tell you that they were completely disconnected from the real world, thus they are within their own mind projecting their fantasy upon the objective world.

When disconnected from reality we start to form narratives within our own mind. We convince ourselves of non-existent relationships, conversations that never occurred, and if someone tells us that these things never happened, we rebut with sincerity that these things did indeed happen, but the person we are speaking to, in their stable sense of mind, is fully aware of the reality of the state-of-affairs. They have a clear picture of the state-of-affairs, whereas the mentally ill person is disconnected from the real-world, they sincerely believe that what they think is happening is truly happening.

If we have a loved one who is out of their mind, we seek help for that person, we want them to be stable, happy, healthy and to form loving relationships, we want them to return to the stable version of themselves. But the direction we are going in, a Western world gripped by the metaphysics of subjectivity, how long will it be before we start denying the existence of mental illness? Given that the far-Left is playing out of the Foucault handbook (in this case Madness & Civilisation) it won’t be long before it is ‘mainstream’ to start closing down mental health centres. People who are mentally ill need to be treated, how can you espouse compassion while trying to prevent treatment for mental health disorders?

Subjectivity is the denial of the reality of the objective world as it places us outside of the world, thus we are looking at the world and judging it from outside. If we accept subjectivity, we accept the ability for all individuals to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ about objectivity based on emotions. But this goes even further.

Individual emotions are now the driving force for reality, and in an individualised society we must try to form a coherent morality that accepts everyone’s emotional Will. We now have subjective morality, we must legitimise everyone’s perversions and remain quiet about our own objections for fear of upsetting those who seek to use the new status quo for their own attention, and to enact their own immoral Will.

This is where the distinction between Heidegger and Sartre becomes completely visible, Heidegger was radically opposed to this, he discussed this in Being and Time, The Question Concerning Technology, The Age of the World Picture and a number of other texts. His idea of freedom was not the same as Sartre’s at all, Sartre’s ‘existence precedes essence’ and his idea of freedom were very much individualist, his idea of socialism was a socialist economy with an anarchist social policy. Sartre actually owned very few personal objects and moved about regularly, his relationship with Simone de Beauvoir was an ‘open one’ (so, essentially, not a relationship at all). Heidegger was a provincial National Socialist who believed in fate and traditions:

“Destiny is not something that puts itself together out of individual fates, any more than Being-with-one-another can be conceived as the occurring together of several Subjects. Our fates have already been guided in advance, in our Being with one another in the same world and in our resoluteness for definite possibilities. Only in communicating and in struggling does the power of destiny become free. Dasein’s fateful destiny un and with its ‘generation’ goes to make up the full authentic of historizing of Dasein.” 30

Heidegger’s writing onwards from this passage moves onto authentic and inauthentic historicality. Let us think of this in the context of what has been said above about subjectivity. As we have said, Heidegger saw in Plato the beginning of the decline of Western metaphysics, this culminated in the ‘hammer’ that is Friedrich Nietzsche. Heidegger sought to establish a new beginning in Western philosophy, an authentic understanding of the first question, what does it mean to be? For Heidegger, Rene Descartes’ subjectivity is not an adequate starting point as it disconnects us from reality and places us in a position outside of the world.

For Heidegger we have lost our fate (whereas for Sartre, we have no fate as he has no fixed essence and we are condemned to be free, we seek to be a thing but can never become one. For Existentialist philosophy there is no actual possibility of a human nature either, human nature is incompatible with Sartre’s ideas). Our fate is hidden behind two thousand years of a faulty understanding of the basic questions of philosophy that must be answered before we can find the true answers to anything else.

If Heidegger shared the same vision as Sartre and the Existentialists he would have turned to Marxism, he would have begun espousing support during the Russian Revolution, Being and Time would have been a very, VERY different book. But no, Heidegger taught lectures on Oswald Spengler, he championed Volk ideals and had a close relationship with Ernst Jünger. This is not what happened at all, Heidegger and Evola very much overlapped in their initial hope at the beginning of the Fascist revolutions, they sought to influence National Socialism, and they became disenfranchised for much the same reasons, and even gave lectures in Germany around the same period both criticising the National Socialists directions (for which Heidegger was making much more of a risk than Evola:

“As a foreigner in an allied country, I enjoyed a kind of immunity: I could say things that would have been more or less unacceptable for a German to say under Nazi rule, and which would have possibly caused him to be interned in a concentration camp” 31

Evola then follows with:

“A specific issue that needed to be addressed was that of so-called ‘racism’: for the needs that had nourished such a tendency in Germany had to be addressed and rectified – and this represented a highly problematic endeavour.” Evola, The Path of Cinnabar 32

Contrast this with Heidegger:

“If one bears in mind that Heidegger was aware of being under surveillance, his critique of biologism and racism in his Nietzsche lectures was therefore clearly an act of some personal courage.” 33

While Evola felt ‘special’ for being able to critique National Socialism without fear of reprisal, Heidegger critiques the very same things while being aware he was under surveillance.

Before we end division one, I will again repeat that Evola could quite easily have attained all the information we have mentioned here. Some may argue that maybe some information mentioned was only brought to the light after he completed Ride the Tiger. I will argue to this, Evola could have personally communicated with Heidegger very easily. It is entirely possible that Heidegger actually knew about Evola.

Letter on Humanism in which Heidegger rebuffed Sartre was available, the fact that Heidegger was a National Socialist and was friendly with many of the same people Evola was in Germany was available. The differences between Being and Time and Being and Nothingness is really not hard to miss. But then again, did Evola actually read Being and Time?…

§5

As we reach the end of this division, we can close by discussing one final separation between Sartre and Heidegger’s work.

We spoke earlier of Rene Descartes and subjectivity, the issues that subjectivity brings when we proceed from the subject. However, we need to go a little bit further than this to finally shatter the union between them both. We will do this briefly and then move forward to the next division, as division two will build upon ideas we will mention here so we need to address a few things.

Cogito ergo sum’ will be a familiar phrase for most people, ‘I think, therefore I am’. As beings with the ability to think, we are each a ‘thinking thing’. That is to say, we are conscious, we are the subject. But what of our body? This brings in the question of what relation does consciousness have to our body, is the body dependent on the mind, is the mind dependent on the body?

“I first observe that there is a great difference between the mind and body in that the body is by nature divisible, and that the mind is wholly indivisible; […] if the body were to lose a foot, or an arm, or some other part, it is certain that the mind would not lose anything thereby.” 34

Consciousness is the ‘ego cogito’, the world ‘res extensa’. When we precede from the subject we are preceding from our mind, we are preceding from consciousness. Consciousness is separate to nature from this view, we essentially place imagination at the forefront of decision. We can imagine and interpret the world, we are encouraged to doubt reality and shape the world to our own will! Heidegger does not proceed from consciousness, he saw Being and the World as a unitary phenomenon. There are structures we can analyse but it is all a single phenomenon.

As we have said, Heidegger wanted to move past Western metaphysics and the cogito. If Sartre was continuing on from Heidegger, he would have continued the project of moving beyond Western metaphysics, but instead he approaches from the cogito.

“We have described human reality from the standpoint of negating conduct and from the standpoint of the cogito.” 35

Consciousness is where Sartre’s investigation precedes from, he even remarks on a few occasions about Heidegger not approaching from consciousness, “This is what Heidegger expressed very well when he wrote (though speaking of Dasein, not of consciousness).” 36 This is not a minor difference by any means.

Division Two

§1

In division one we suggested that you read the word Dasein as ‘I’. This is because it is term that you cannot properly grasp until you have spent a fair bit of time studying Being and Time itself. Heidegger is already known for being a difficult philosopher to understand, when Being and Time is centred on the term Dasein, but to properly apprehend its meaning you must throw yourself headfirst into the book itself. Thus, the term Dasein takes on an alternate function as a filter to sift through those attempting to read the book and weed out anyone who is not completely dedicated to finding out just what this puzzling text is trying to convey. This is somewhat ironic given the section discussing idle-talk and curiosity….

In the translator’s introduction to Introduction to Metaphysics they suggest that new readers view “Dasein not as a particular sort of being, but as a condition into which human beings enter, either individually or collectively,” and it is a helpful way to think about this term. 1 But that only brings us part way.

“Because Dasein has in each case mineness [Jemeinigkeit], one must always use a personal pronoun when one addresses it: ‘I am’, ‘you are’.” 2

Dasein is something we possess which brings with it this inherent, basic understanding of the other entities in the world. But to repeat a quote from the beginning of this essay:

“it is held that ‘Being’ is of all concepts the one that is self-evident. Whenever one cognizes anything or makes an assertion, […] some use is made of ‘Being’; and this expression is held to be intelligible ‘without further ado’, just as everyone understands ‘The sky is blue’, I am merry’ […] But here we have an average kind of intelligibility, which merely demonstrates that this is unintelligible. […] there lies a priori an enigma. The very fact that we already live in an understanding of Being and that the meaning of Being is still veiled in darkness proves that it is necessary in principle to raise this question again.” 3

The fact that Dasein knows the word ‘Being’ as if it understands it intuitively but cannot give an answer to what it means to be, is what makes the question of ‘Being’ and it’s meaning an issue with which we must concern ourselves with. As we have shown up to this point, the answers which have been provided were an issue in themselves for Heidegger.

§2

‘Sartre has taken from Heidegger the concept of “instrumentality” (Zuhandenheit), of the character of “mere usable means” that everything that comes to us from the outside, from people and things,’ 4

We begin with a solid example of Evola’s blatant dishonesty in Ride the Tiger. What Zuhandenheit actually translates to is ready-at-hand. Ready-at-hand is actually in contrast to present-at-hand (Vorhandenheit), these are two terms to describe how we interact with the world around us.

Evola brushes over this characterisation without explaining how there is a drastic difference between how Sartre and Heidegger see the world around us, he merely throws Heidegger’s name is there as a “mere usable means” and continues on leaving readers with the false impression there is some connection here. There isn’t. In §5 of division one we discussed the mind-body dualism because it is going to play a crucial role in our discussion moving forward.

The division of subject-object (mind-body) creates what Heidegger calls occurentness. For Heidegger, traditional ontology made the error of interpreting everything as present-at-hand instead of ready-at-hand. Let’s use an example.

Once upon a time the Western world had these useful things called nations. Each of these nations were formed by a collection of people with a core common language, ethical principles, culture, customs and so forth. Within these nations there were some idiosyncrasies in different regions, but ultimately there was a common core. All these nations had this really useful thing called a border that allowed the nation to determine who was allowed in, it allowed the individual cultures to exist, when a nation allowed anyone to move there it was expected that those individuals would adopt the culture of that land. I mean, you wouldn’t move or visit to another nation unless you wanted to immerse yourself in that nations culture, right? If someone didn’t then they would obviously not be displaying good intentions, why else would you travel to a foreign land? Could you imagine fleeing to another nation to escape some dangerous collapse in your own homeland? Obviously, you would be thankful for the kindness of the nation you just entered; you would show respect and embrace that nations culture? It would be absurd not to do so! What sort of rude, disrespectful bastard would be so ungrateful?

A nation is an abstract entity that is functioning, it is in use. However, we are not thinking about its use, we are within it, we are using it, but we don’t need to think about it and how it works. It is ready-at-hand. If something is ready-at-hand we are simply using the entity, we don’t think about how it works. When we are using a hammer, we are not concerned with what it is formed from, we are holding it and making sure we strike the head of the nail instead of the nail on our thumb.

Now, let’s say that hammer breaks, the head of the hammer falls off, the head of the handle strikes the nail, the light piece of wood is fairly weak as the hammer is quite old, it splits and splinters apart. In this moment you are wondering what has happened, in less than a second the hammer you were using has just fallen apart. Suddenly you are aware of what forms that hammer. When we pick up a hammer to use it, we are not asking questions about the hammer itself, its functions or its materials. Now the broken hammer is something we are asking questions about. The hammer is now a variety of parts we inspect and ask questions about. This is present-at-hand. If we walk into a room and turn on a light that very light is ready-at-hand, it isn’t of concern to us unless we flick the switch and it doesn’t illuminate the room for us.

Subjectivity causes man to approach the world as something that is merely present-at-hand, it does not take into consideration the ready-at-hand part of existence. This is best explained in the context of the sciences, historians and technology which Heidegger was very critical of. I am sure Evolians will recognise some of Evola’s own criticisms in Heidegger’s work, just another thing to add to the long list of things Evola was unaware of about Heidegger.

Contrary to what Evola has implied to his readers, Heidegger very much has an issue with the idea of seeing the world as just this ‘mere usable means’. He refers to modern technology as ‘rootless’ because technological developments are made from a viewpoint that sees the world as nothing more than a bundle of resources at our disposal. When modern man looks at a forest, he sees not trees but lumber, the potentiality to turn all this wood into objects and profit.

This isn’t to say that it is wrong in Heidegger’s eyes to chop down a tree and use its wood for fire or shelter, the problem comes from how we are apprehending that tree before we begin our action. If the severity is not clear enough yet, let us take a modern example that is much more likely to strike a nerve.

Men and women are thrown into the world with specific biological qualities, different aptitudes, different abilities. But when you view the world as something that can be moulded and bent to your own individual will and desires, when you deny the existence of something other than the material world, the human body becomes a blank slate your can model as well. If you deny that human beings do have a nature, you ironically define the world as some big ball of clay that man can attempt to mould without any potential consequences. Thus, they deny that ‘man’ and ‘woman’ is something significant, they are stripped of a foundation, their bodies become a toy for surgeons. The surgeon apprehends the body as something different. We no longer have surgeons that fix serious illnesses, removing cancerous tumours or fixing wounds, we now have ‘plastic surgeons’, man is a plastic toy to be played with and changed to suit hedonistic desires instead of having an essential foundation.

To anyone who has read Ride the Tiger, does it seem like Evola has characterised Heidegger in the correct way? Is this the image of Heidegger that you take away from Evola’s book?

§3

Two quotes from Evola to address:

“For Heidegger, the basis of Dasein is nothingness; one is only flung into the world as a mere possibility of being.” 5

‘Dasein, is felt not only as expulsion and as “being flung” … irrationally into the world, but also as a “fall” … and even as a debt or a fault.’ 6

The basis of Dasein is not nothingness. This claim by Evola is baseless, and the remainder of the two quotes is just as unfounded and as absurd. As we are about to show, Evola has done nothing more than cut a bunch of sentences out of Being and Time, thrown them into a hat, and then selected a few to put in his book.

When Heidegger says ‘World’ he does not just mean the material world around us, the World is a single, unitary phenomenon, the World as present-at-hand and ready-at-hand; the World as a whole. This phenomenon is called Being-in-the-world. Being-in-the-world is the encompassing phenomenon to be analysed. It is itself formed of three structures which Heidegger analyses independently: Being-in, the World and Who (who is Dasein? This chapter analyses things such as our Being-with-Others and the ‘They’).

These three abstractions of Being-in-the-world that are analysed each have within them their own structures which we can analyse independently, but we must do so taking into account that they are all part of one, whole phenomenon. This is what Heidegger does in division one: ‘The Preparatory Fundamental Analysis of Dasein’. But as this is an essay and not a book itself, we will also discuss division two, this is entitled ‘Dasein and Temporality’. Temporality means Time, we have Being-in-the-world and Time.

Now, the basis of Dasein is not ‘nothingness’, if anything we would call the basis of Dasein Time. We are thrown into a World which brings with it our past, we enter it in the present, and we move towards our death – Heidegger analyses our Being-towards-death. What is the opposite of Being? Nothingness. But Being doesn’t just mean Being a Dasein, other entities that are not human are not Dasein, our ‘nothingness’ is not the same as the not-being of a chair, we are alive, what we do in our lives shapes the future, the future of the human world.

We exist in Time, the meaning of Dasein is Time. Thus, if we are to give Dasein a ‘basis’ it is Time, we exist in Time. We are thrown into a World that has been structured through Time, our customs and cultures are product of History. But what is this “fall” (Verfallen) Evola throws into the sentence, not properly explaining anything to his readers, nor highlighting Heidegger’s intentions and beliefs of?

Unlike Evola’s characterisation, Verfallen “does not express any negative evaluation”. 7 Evola dishonestly quotes Heidegger, characterising it as just an aspect of inauthenticity ‘fleeing from oneself, of “being-flung” into the anodyne existence of everyday life with its platitudes, chattering, lies, entanglements, expedients, its forms of “tranquilization” and “dejection,” and its escapist diversions.’ 8 This is nonsense, both inauthenticity and Verfallen are not inherently negative, it is just a characterisation of everyday life. We fall into everyday behaviours. I will try to explain this in the simplest terms, bear in mind there is a lot more to these ideas and I can only convey to you, dear reader, so much.

With social groups, various sports and so-forth we all have different ways of communicating with each other, our own sort of lingo that if an outsider was to hear for the first time, they wouldn’t understand what we are communicating to each other. Different groups also have different accepted interactions. When you first enter a social group, you fall into that ‘world’. In you lives we all have our own little ‘worlds’. These worlds can be good or bad, but it is still a ‘falling-into’ in the sense that we fall into that way of being. So, Verfallen does not have a negative connotation at all, it is just a descriptor for us being absorbed into a way of being.

Inauthenticity is just the same. Heidegger is not speaking only of someone like, for example, a teenager who wants to fit in with everyone else engaging in inauthentic behaviour – though that is still inauthenticity. The problem with both Sartre and Evola is that they have approached Heidegger’s work as if he is just engaging in some cultural commentary; Sartre approached Heidegger through his prior interest in psychology, Evola approached his work as if Heidegger was part of the Existentialist movement, embracing radical nihilism and human emancipation. Early into Being and Time Heidegger makes clear that his work is not psychological, anthropological, political, ethical or anything else. Despite Heidegger doing this, despite making clear that things like authenticity, inauthenticity, Verfallen and so forth carry no positive or negative implication, people like Sartre and Evola have miss interpreted Heidegger’s work in a foolish manner. Now, Sartre may have an excuse given what we have mentioned earlier about it being possible that he had not read Being and Time in its entirety prior to writing Being and Nothingness (the sections on Death and Care were translated into French alongside some of Heidegger’s lectures). Evola, however, has no excuse. He learned German while he was younger so he could study German Idealism; Hegel, Kant, etc. Heidegger is a very careful with what he writers, the words he uses, he explains his intentions. He states early on that the purpose of Being and Time is to provide a basis for psychology, anthropology, politics, science and everything else. He refers to technology as ‘rootless’ because without a genuine understanding of the meaning of Being we do not have solid foundation for any discipline at all – European Nihilism is a consequence of our faulty metaphysics!

“The spiritual decline of the earth has progressed so far that peoples are in danger of losing their last spiritual strength, the strength that makes it possible to even see the decline … and appraise it as such. This simple observation has nothing to do with cultural pessimism – nor with optimism either, of course, for the darkening of the world, the flight of the gods, the destruction of the earth, the reduction of human beings to a mass […]” 9

“Europe lies in the pincers between Russia and America, which are metaphysically the same, namely in regard to their world-character and their relationship to the spirit. The situation in Europe is all the more dire because the disempowering of the spirit comes from Europe itself […] The prevailing dimension became that of extension and number. To be able – this no longer means to spend and to lavish, thanks to a lofty overabundance and mastery of energies; instead, it means only practicing a routine in which anyone can be trained, always combined with a certain amount of sweat and display. […] By now in those countries [America and Russia] is the onslaught of that which aggressively destroys all rank and all that is world-spiritual, and portrays these as a lie. This is the onslaught of what we call the demonic […]” 10

§4

What is it exactly was the intention of Ride the Tiger? Evola speaks of a decaying world without Tradition, the revolutions of the Third Estate, Marxism, liberalism and democracy. Ride the Tiger (alongside Men Among the Ruins) is a proposed solution for special kind of man with an aristocratic soul:

“The significance of the crises and the dissolutions that so many people deplore today should be stated, indicating the real and direct object of the destructive processes: bourgeois civilization and society. But measured against traditional values, these latter were already the first negation of a world anterior and superior to them. Consequently, the crisis of the modern world could represent, in Hegel’s terms, a “negation of a negation,” so as to signify a phenomenon that, in its own way, is positive. This double negation might end in nothingness in the nothingness that erupts in multiple forms of chaos, dispersion, rebellion, and “protest” that characterize many tendencies of recent generations; or in that other nothingness that is scarcely hidden behind the organized system of material civilization. Alternatively, for the men in question here it might create a new, free space that could eventually become the premise for a future, formative action.” 11

It is worth asking yourself again; if Heidegger and Evola both saw hope in the same movements, if they were both involved in the Conservative Revolution, if they both got disenfranchised for the same reasons, if Heidegger wanted hierarchy, why the hell is Evola bringing Heidegger into his attack on Existentialism?

On page 79 Evola states ‘Karl Jaspers, perhaps the only one among the existentialists to make a few superficial references to “metaphysics,”’ 12 this alone shows that Evola has not actually read any of Heidegger’s work. Why? Because Heidegger’s opposition, as we said before, is that Western metaphysics trajectory has led to the very things that Evola and he oppose. Heidegger saw in metaphysics the cause of European Nihilism and decadence, the bourgeois ‘material civilization’ that he discusses in the quote above.

‘With special regard to the interpretation of Dasein, the opinion may now arise that understanding the most alien cultures and ‘synthesizing’ them with one’s own may lead to Dasein’s becoming for the first time thoroughly and genuinely enlightened about itself. Versatile curiosity and restlessly “knowing all” masquerade as a universal understanding of Dasein.’ 13

While Evola is considered to be far-Right, Heidegger may well be further to the Right than he, if anything Heidegger might consider him to be a universalist Leftist for trying to understand Dasein through a bunch of Eastern texts, ‘alien cultures’ which he tries to ‘synthesise’ with his own. He may well be a viewed as a traitor contributing to the spread of inauthenticity. We quoted Evola earlier saying that he could walk around Germany saying things that may have another German placed in a concentration camp, it seems possible that if Heidegger had reached a higher position in the National Socialist party, Evola would not have had that luxury.

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References

Introduction

1. Dugin, Alexander, Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning (USA: Washington Summit Publishers, 2014), 29-30

2. Faye, Guillaume, Archeofuturism (UK: Arktos Media Ltd., 2010), 69

3. ibid., 89

4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_petition_against_age_of_consent_laws

5. Heidegger, Martin, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (USA: Harper Perennial, 2013), 116-117

6. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YUn4l8C1g2c

Division One

1. Sartre, Jean-Paul, Existentialism is a Humanism (USA: Yale University Press, 2007), 20

2. Safranski, Rüdiger, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil (USA: Harvard University Press, 1998), 369

3. Ibid. 349-350

4. Ibid.

5. Heidegger, Martin, Letter on Humanism [http://pacificinstitute.org/pdf/Letter_on_%20Humanism.pdf]

6. Heidegger, Martin, The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays (USA: Harper Perennial, 2013), 53

7. Heidegger, Martin, Introduction to Metaphysics (USA: Yale University Press, 2014), 1.

8. https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/phoenix/2019/07/12/former-asu-physicist-lawrence-krauss-got-250-k-jeffrey-epstein/1718659001/

9. Introduction to Metaphysics, 8

10. Heidegger, Martin, Being and Time (USA: Harper Perennial, 2008), 60

11. Being and Time, 23

12. Mohler, Armin, The Conservative Revolution in Germany 1918-1932 (USA: Washington Summit Publishers, 2018), xxv

13. Introduction to Metaphysics, 222

14. Tucker, Robert. C. (ed), The Marx-Engels Reader Second Edition (USA: W.W. Norton, 1972), 145

15. Biemel, Walter, Saner, Hans, & Aylesworth, Gary. E., The Heidegger-Jaspers Correspondence (1920-1963) (USA: Humanity Books, 2003), 23

16. https://www.the-writer.net/home/karl-marx-free-speech-warrior

17. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, 46

18. Evola, Julius, Ride the Tiger (USA: Inner Traditions, 2003), 79

19. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, 343

20. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, 344

21. Sartre, Jean-Paul, Being and Nothingness (UK: Routledge, 2003), 461-462

22. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, 348

23. Marx & Engels, The Communist Manifesto (UK: Vintage, 2010), 70

24. Hegel, The Philosophy of History (USA: Dover Publications, 2016), 17

25. Ibid

26. Ibid, 19

27. Ibid 18

28. Wolin, Richard (ed.), The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader (USA: MIT Press, 1993), 47

29. Ride the Tiger, 83-84

30. Being and Time, 436

31. Evola, Julius, The Path of Cinnabar (UK: Arktos Media Ltd., 2010), 154

32. Ibid, 155

33. Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, 323

34. Descartes, René, Discourse on Method, Meditations & Preface to the Principles of Philosophy (UK: Penguin, 1960), 165

35. Being and Nothingness, 245

36. Being and Nothingness, 11

Division Two

1. Introduction to Metaphysics, xi

2. Being and Time, 68

3. Being and Time, 60

4. Ride the Tiger, 85

5. ibid, 86

6. ibid, 92

7. Being and Time, 220

8. Ride the Tiger, 80

9. Introduction to Metaphysics, 42

10. ibid, 50

11. Ride the Tiger, 7

12. ibid, 79

13. Being and Time, 222

2 thoughts on “Heidegger, Existentialism and Julius Evola’s Distorted Interpretation

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