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BOOK REVIEWS

SUMMARIES AND COMMENTS*


ELIZABETH C. SHAW AND STAFF
Charles. Heidegger'sRoots: Nietzsche, NationalSocialism, and
the Greeks. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2003. 384 pp. Cloth,
$45.00-Another "reckoning" with Heidegger! Bambach's main
thesis is that "authochthonic rootedness" (bodenstaendige Verwurzelung) is a "never abandoned ontological myth" (p. 302), it
functions as a leading value, and it grounds Heidegger's fundamental ontology and history of being. It survives the turns of
Heidegger's philosophical trajectory. Heidegger attributes his
principle to the Greeks, but he uses it to legitimate a specifically
German rootedness, a major critical tool and antidote to the cultural ills he diagnoses. Heidegger thus asserts German superiority and power in thought, culture, and political mission. Adequate thought and right value need to have chthonic origin. In
addition, Heidegger's fundamental ontology and metaphysical
history of being are exclusionary: only autochthonously rooted
cultures have dignity and are entitled to reign. Heidegger's
"originary thinking" excludes from that dignity Russian Communism, American capitalism, modern democracy, the ideas of 1789,
Enlightenment rationality, Latinity, Galilean and Newtonian science, calculative thinking, technology, universalizing ethics, Cartesian subjectivity.
Bambach unfolds his theses in five chapters. "Myth of the
Homeland" sets the stage by arguing that "politics can never be
severed from philosophy in Heidegger's sense" (p. 15). Throughout his career his politics has been a geo-politics of the earth, organized around "the place where a people (Volk) form a homeland" (p. 14). The declared goal of Heidegger's politics is to
convince humankind to set its ways and goals in accordance with
autochthonic rootedness. This, as it were, "cosmo-chthonic" goal
relies on specific national sources and agents, namely, Greek origins and German autochthonous culture-a claim to German hegemony clothed as Greek revival!

BAMBACH,

*Books received are acknowledged in this section by a brief resume, report, or criticism. Such acknowledgement does not preclude a more detailed
examination in a subsequent Critical Study. From time to time, technical
books dealing with such fields as mathematics, physics, anthropology, and the
social sciences will be reviewed in this section, if it is thought that they might
be of special interest to philosophers.
The Review of Metaphysics 59 (September 2005): 165-210. Copyright 2005 by The
Review of Metaphysics

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ELIZABETH C. SHAW AND STAFF


The second chapter reads Heidegger's "Rectorial Address"
(1933) as "a condensed and concentrated expression of
Heidegger's most enduring philosophical themes" (p. 70). The
"Address" unfolds as a hierarchy of claims to leadership: the
German University is to lead the national revival initiated by the
National Socialist "revolution"; the university needs a leadership that allows remodeling in accordance with Heideggerian philosophy, also meant to fashion the disciplines and sciences.
"Rector Heidegger hoped to become the new philosopher-king/
Fuehrer of a voelkischepolis" (p. 108). The "Address" is a political manifesto calling for the implementation of Heidegger's autochthonous philosophy in Germany.
Chapter 3, "The Geo-Politics of Heidegger's Mitteleuropa," expands the horizon to the world. Heidegger "deploy[s] his myth of
autochthony in offering his account of Germany's place within
'the historical destiny of the West"' (p. 113). The world persists
in "forgetfulness of being." Chthonic autochthony brought to
power in Germany by the right kind of National Socialism is to
acquire hegemony in the world, reconnecting others with their
roots and pulling them out of forgetfulness of being. Germany is
to be "the nation called to save Europe and the West from its
own metaphysical self-destruction, a destruction that can be
averted only if the Germans recover the lost roots of Greek
aletheia" (p. 138). Violent self-assertion is among the tools
Heidegger proposes for the realization of his philosophical and
geo-political vision. All the way up to Stalingrad, Heidegger's
philosophy has the form of a philosophico-political imperialism.
In his fourth chapter, "Heidegger's Greeks and the Myth of
Autochthony," Bambach turns to Heidegger's roots. He ties
Heidegger's reading of the Greeks to the nationalist German interpretations of Greek culture and opposes the thesis that
Heidegger, after initially flirting with the National Socialists,
came to adopt an apolitical stance and turned into a critic of National Socialism. Bambach does acknowledge changes in Heidegger's philosophy during the 1930s, but these changes maintain
the myth of autochthony. Now Nazi worldview and politics move
into the camp of forces held by forgetfulness of being, and
Heidegger ontologizes his politics. Importantly, however, the
"new" Heidegger continues to defend "autochthonous rootedness," still favoring German autochthony, still assigning to the
Germans the unique mission to save the West, still affirming
their "singular affinity to the Greek arche and their distinctive
identity." Ontologized autochthony is merely the concealed form
of the old myth of political autochthony (187/188 with 232).
The fifth chapter, "Heidegger's 'Nietzsche'," analyzes
Heidegger's readings of Nietzsche. The Nietzsche texts "offer a
textual record of the shifts, turns, deviations, and spirals that
take place in Heidegger's thought in the crucial years from 1936
to the end of the war" (p. 249). They make Heidegger appear as
what he was not: an anti-Nazi (p. 249) and an apolitical philosopher (p. 253). Bambach wants to show "how deeply implicated in

SUMMARIES AND COMMENTS

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the specifics of a National Socialist worldview Heidegger's original Nietzsche lectures were" (p. 269). He also highlights the
continuity of a political line that amounts to a "Freiburg National Socialism." The only notable absence is the earlier advocacy of power and violence as political means.
Bambach resolutely reduces Heidegger to his intellectual environment, ancestry, and kin. This prevents two Heideggers from
appearing: missing, on the one hand, a Heidegger who is ambivalent, changing, opportunistic, looking for an Alexander for his
philosophy, reacting to failures, maneuvering in constellations of
power; but equally missing a philosophical Heidegger, whose critical potential exceeds its National Socialist affinities. Bambach
thinks that the commitment to autochthony undermines the possibilities of reading Heidegger in an anarchic spirit (p. 217). Why
that? Is "autochthony" per se a fascist or right-wing value?
Rousseau, Whitman, Camus, Neruda, Pasternak, Rossellini,
Bergmann, Tarkovski come to mind, all strongly attached to their
"earth" and homeland, most of them opponents of totalitarian
tendencies, many of them cosmopolitans. Autochthony is a negative value only in its hegemonic and exclusionary forms.-Martin
Schwab, University of California-Irvine.

BENNETT, Jonathan. A PhilosophicalGuide to Conditionals. New York:


Oxford University Press, 2003. viii + 387 pp. Paper, $24.95-"If"
and "then," wrapped around enough content to form at least two
propositions that seem to be conditionally assertible together as

antecedent and consequent, are, of course, the key denizens of


this very deep work. It's a commonplace among philosophers
that what so innocently malingers in indicative language as, "If

Bennett didn't write this excellent Guide, then someone else


did," can rapidly morph by a little fancy into the eyebrow-arching
subjunctive/counterfactual, "If Bennett hadn't written this marvelous work, then someone else would have." The hulking literature on the logic and semantics of conditionals is cunning and
daunting, and few thinkers on the world stage are equipped to
corral and tame the beast as Bennett has. Even given his nontruth-functional stance on indicative conditionals, one might still

rightly call Bennett "The Horseshoe Whisperer."


The book is based on Bennett's graduate seminar lecture notes
collected over the years. It's not surprising, then, that the work
does not just survey the literature, but offers Bennett's take on
the issues. His writing is disarmingly casual and witty-quite remarkably so for such dense subject-matter.
After some preliminaries in chapter 1, such as announcing the
division of labor of the book-indicatives first, then subjunc-

tives-Bennett devotes chapters 2 and 3 respectively to consid-

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TITLE: [Heideggers Roots]


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