Not all philosophical questions aim for a solution, some are also answered by avoiding an argument about them.

The shockwaves that shook the public in 2014 when the “Schwarze Hefte” came out, in which Martin Heidegger blamed the Jews for all sorts of evils and went so far as to claim that they were the authors of their own downfall have now subsided.

The later of the now fully edited notebooks contain no offensive passages, and it seems as if the contending parties have made a cold peace: those who always wanted to draw a line under Heidegger no longer deal with him, the others read him further.

The crucial question

Thomas Thiel

Editor in the Feuilleton.

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At the time of the scandal there were different interpretations.

We were talking about a metaphysical or historical anti-Semitism.

Accordingly, Heidegger used the Jews as a template wherever it was a question of explaining the fall from true being through arithmetical reason.

Others preferred to speak of anti-Judaism because Heidegger was distant from the biological connotation of the term anti-Semitism.

Peter Trawny, the editor of the "Black Booklets", himself presented a meaningful interpretation at the time.

The anti-Semitism provides an important building block for the folk-psychological framework of Heidegger's second work phase, the history of being.

Unrecognized comedian?

Trawny, who regards philosophy as a way of life, was to be expected not to give up on this question.

Peter Sloterdijk, his interlocutor at the Frankfurt literature festival Literaturm, was not the right man for this.

Sloterdijk spoke graciously of “so-called” anti-Semitism.

At some point Heidegger put more and more equal signs between Judaism and the major ideological movements of his time, Bolshevism, Americanism and, not to forget, British imperialism, without asking himself what separated them.

For Heidegger, the Jewish is “an agency in which the de-earthing of life” takes place.

According to Sloterdijk, one cannot speak of specific anti-Semitism.

It may be true that Heidegger's caricature of Judaism had a functional character.

But it is also a specific feature of anti-Semitism that Jews are unspecifically and unmotivatedly made the projection screen for all sorts of evils.

Peter Trawny spared Sloterdijk further inquiries.

Meanwhile, he belittled the Heidegger of the “Schwarze Hefte” into a comedian with slapstick qualities and unmistakable proximity to Karl Valentin, even to the old age punk who refuses the play that is expected of him.

Now Heidegger's tirades against encapsulated life and the people who slurp it like oysters may have an idiosyncratic comedy.

On many pages, however, Heidegger strains the patience of his readers by giving free rein to his resentment.

The “Hefte” are tough reading.

It was surprising that Peter Trawny unceremoniously assigned it to the philosophical work.

The evening was announced as an improvisation on the "Black Booklets".

Clearly, they didn't want to be dictated to in the right direction.

Peter Sloterdijk drew attention to Heidegger's 1929-30 lecture on boredom and expressed his preference for a philosophy open to meditation and spiritual exercises.

Here boredom is a necessary preliminary stage to being moved and to shedding external life.

For Heidegger, Sloterdijk noted, philosophy was a calling and a mission, and a sensitivity to a voice that is not audible in public discourse.

At times this call was called National Socialism.

Peter Trawny asked whether the basic vibration of boredom, which Heidegger ascribed to his epoch, still applies to our present with its multiple manifestations of crises.

But that's probably on a different level.

As a motivational coach or crisis advisor, existential philosophy would be undersold.