On the new edition of Heidegger’s Zollikoner Seminare: An open letter (20 April 2017)

On the new edition of Heideggers Zollikoner Seminare

An open letter

Anthony Stadlen

Copyright © Anthony Stadlen 2017, 2020


I wrote this open letter to urge that the new edition of HeideggerZollikoner Seminare should be published in the name of Professor Dr. Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann. A German translation of my letter, Zur Herausgeberschaft der Zollikoner Seminare’, was published in Heidegger Studies 43 (2018): 319-321.

In my letter I give the number of Jewish references in HeideggerSchwarze Hefte (GA 94-7) as twenty-six. In his book Time and Trauma: Thinking Through Heidegger in the Thirties (2019, 155) Professor Richard Polt gives the number as twenty-seven. But at Inner Circle Seminar No. 254, Quodlibet Heideggeriensis, on 1 December 2019, Professor Richard Rojcewicz announced that his computerised investigation revealed that the correct number was nineteen.] 

I understand from Professor Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann that there is to be a new edition of Zollikoner Seminare containing much new material which he has discovered, but that there is a suggestion that this edition should come out not under his own name but under that of Professor Peter Trawny. In my view the book should come out under the name of Professor von Herrmann, who has not only prepared this new edition but was entrusted by Martin Heidegger himself during his lifetime with bringing out the monumental 102-volume Gesamtausgabe. He has fulfilled this task magnificently.
Professor von Herrmann is uniquely qualified to be in charge of the publication of this new edition of Zollikoner Seminare. He was a friend and colleague of Dr Medard Boss, Dr Marianne Boss, Dr Gion Condrau, and other leading Daseinsanalysts. He was involved in the creation of the Zurich Daseinsanalytic Institute.
I first met Professor von Herrmann at the 5th Forum of the International Federation of Daseinsanalysis (IFDA) in Vienna in 2003, on the night before the centenary of the birth of Medard Boss. Professor von Herrmann gave a wonderful speech in the presence of Bosss widow Frau Dr Marianne Boss and the worlds leading Daseinsanalysts summarising lucidly and elegantly Heideggers complex and difficult argument in Zollikoner Seminare. I requested, and he granted me, the right to arrange an excellent English translation by Frau Salomé Hangartner in Existential Analysis (2004).
I am the only Daseinsanalyst and teacher of Daseinsanalysis in the UK, the Independent Effective Member of IFDA for the UK. I have taught Heideggers insights in Zollikoner Seminare in many of my Inner Circle Seminars over the years for psychotherapists in London. I have recently conducted eight seminars, each of the same duration (6 hours) as Heideggers, 50 years almost to the day after they took place in Zollikon, in which we studied his seminars in great detail. This required my correcting innumerable errors in the American translation. I published, in Daseinsanalyse (2002) and at greater length in Existential Analysis (2003), critical reviews of this translation, giving a large number of examples of mistranslations and confusions which I explained in detail. I have also given papers on Daseinsanalysis at many of the international Fora of IFDA in a number of countries. I was invited to the 9th Forum of IFDA in Athens in September 2015 to conduct one of my Inner Circle Seminars on the Zollikon seminars.
As a teacher of Zollikoner Seminare, intimately familiar with this books content, I would welcome a new edition under Professor von Herrmanns name.
I regret that I would not have the same trust in an edition under Professor Trawnys name. I have read with interest Professor Trawnys two books on Heideggers alleged anti-Semitism in the four published volumes of Schwarze Hefte, and despite good passages I find them confused and misleading.
I am myself a Jew, a Board Member of my synagogue, and a lay cantor who takes services and chants in Hebrew from the Torah scroll. I know something of Judaism.
I also know, from my research, something of anti-Judaism and anti-Semitism.
I have researched Christian and post-Christian anti-Judaism of various kinds. Anti-Judaism is ubiquitous as an often unexamined and unthinking assumption in European culture, including the most sublime, for example Bachs Passions. It can be traced to Paul, Augustine, and Luther (all of whom were important influences on Heidegger). It is present in the post-war writing of the Christian theologian Bultmann, a friend of Heideggers, whose book Primal Christianity, published after the second world war, is replete with ignorant assumptions about the inferiority of Judaism. Yet Bultmann bravely opposed Nazi anti-Semitism.
I have also researched the very different pseudo-scientific, 'biological, absolute anti-Semitism of race developed by the National Socialists. Specifically, I researched the work of Eichmann, Hagen, Dannecker, and others in the Sicherheitsdiensthauptamt in the 1930s to study the different categories of Jew (assimilated, Zionist, religious - all of them members of an absolutely alien and wrong race) and to manipulate them psychologically and socially to work on each other to leave Germany. This was no banality of evil’ but a highly intelligent and sophisticated project, which may be termed the first solution; it was, of course, superseded by the Final Solution.
This anti-Judaism and this anti-Semitism should not be confused. But just such a confusion is perpetrated, in my view, by Professor Trawny in his books.
Heidegger makes very occasional (26) negative comments about Weltjudentum and Jews in the Schwarze Hefte. But he explicitly insists that these have nothing to do with anti-Semitism, which he calls reprehensible, let alone with Nazi biological scientific anti-Semitism, which indeed he categorises as itself a manifestation of the destructive calculative machination that is his central target.
Heidegger, in fact, denounces almost everybody as engaged in this calculative machination: the English, the Americans, the Bolsheviks, the National Socialists. Not many people escape his condemnation: ancient Greeks, Hölderlin, traditional non-Bolshevik Russians, Lawrence of Arabia (whom he oddly reveres), and few others.
But Professor Trawny insists that, when Heidegger criticises Weltjudentum, this is really anti-Semitism even though Heidegger says it is not. Not only this, Trawny goes on to say that when Heidegger attacks the English, the Bolsheviks, Nazi biological anti-Semitism, etc. this is also a manifestation of Heidegger's anti-Semitism, because Heidegger, according to Trawny, really means that the Jews have contaminated the English, the Bolsheviks, the Nazis, et al., with their calculative machination.
Thus Professor Trawny arrives at the absurd position that the very heart of Heidegger's critique of calculative machination is that the Jews are responsible for it, wherever it occurs. Trawny has expanded 26 anti-Jewish comments into four volumes of Schwarze Hefte, and indeed into the whole of his philosophy, which becomes in its entirety a manifestation of the anti-Semitism which Heidegger expressly denounces.
I do not think this is a caricature of what Professor Trawny has done. It could itself be described as a form of calculative machination.
For this reason, I think Professor von Hermann should be in charge of the new edition of Zollikoner Seminare, with its kindly, beneficent, deeply thoughtful contribution to a more human and less alienated psychiatry and psychotherapy.

Anthony Stadlen
20 April 2017

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