At the LA Review of Books, Martin Woessner reviews Freedom to Fail: Heidegger’s Anarchy by Peter Trawny. The book presents Heidegger as a kind of poetic philosopher that is in short supply these days, while also wondering how much is anti-Semitism undermines his work. Here’s an excerpt:
In trading “drama” and “poetry” and “tragedy” for mere “argument,” contemporary philosophy has, Trawny thinks, totally lost its way. Or as he puts it: “The drama of thinking has vanished in the world of the argument.” Freedom to Fail is a lament — not for Heidegger’s mistakes, but for a philosophical epoch that, as he sees it, avoids mistakes at all costs.
According to Trawny, Heidegger’s commitment to thinking leads him into a realm beyond argumentation. It also led him into a realm beyond good and evil. Rhetorically, but also dramatically, Trawny asks if Nietzsche, who first surveyed this territory, was “Heidegger’s master” and then spends the next 80 pages answering his own question. Many of these pages make for captivating reading, but a shorter route could have been taken simply by quoting Heidegger’s late confession, as reported by his student Hans-Georg Gadamer, that “Nietzsche hat mich kaputt gemacht” — or, to translate it a little loosely, “Nietzsche broke me.”