Heidegger on Freedom and Practical Judgment

Abstract

One prevalent strategy for connecting Heidegger’s thought and his support of Nazism focuses on his notion of resolve. The claim is that it is through resolve that Dasein achieves authenticity, but that Heidegger’s notion of resolve is without determinate content, and thus empty. Since the call to authenticity, it is supposed, is Heidegger’s version of the command to be moral, the indeterminacy of Heideggerian resolve apparently results in an ethicopolitical “decisionism”-an effectively amoral form of judgment that precludes Heideggerian thought from recognizing the evil of National Socialism. In this paper, I argue that the above critique is based on a misinterpretation of Heidegger’s notion of freedom. Specifically, it imputes the “existentialist” conception of freedom as unconstrained arbitrariness to Heideggerian resolve. A proper understanding of Heideggerian freedom, however, reveals that freedom is highly constrained, and that the freedom of resolve is far from an empty notion.

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Mark B. Tanzer
University of Colorado at Denver

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