A few months ago, I attended the International Institute of Philosophy and Science’s first-ever retreat and conference. The conference was co-sponsored by The New School, the New School in Philadelphia, the New School in London, and the University of Sussex, in Brighton. The three-day conference was split into three sessions, each focused on a different philosophical topic. I felt energized and prepared to attend the next two days, but when I got there, I was disappointed.
I was expecting the conference to be quite different than the other three, with the three topics being: Kant (Kant’s philosophy of ethics), Nietzsche (Nietzsche’s philosophy of psychology), and Heidegger (Heidegger’s philosophy of being). I was also expecting the topics to be more philosophical in nature than these other sessions—but they weren’t. I expected this to be a very “traditional” philosophical conference with many lectures, and I was not disappointed.
All of the topics were new to me and the first three were very well presented. Kant’s was interesting but I was disappointed not to hear about his Philosophy of Language. However, the most interesting presentation I saw was Heidegger’s. I was surprised at how well thought out the presentation was and how much Heidegger can be understood through the lens of Kantian philosophy.
I have not read Heidegger, and I am not familiar with Kant. However, I agree that Heidegger is a very interesting philosopher. His thought was able to incorporate many of Kant’s ideas, and I agree that this is a great way to start a philosophically oriented discussion.
I have a question for Heidegger.
I would be interested to hear his thoughts on the setting of 1984. I know that it was a satire about the totalitarian state of Germany, but it seems as though his view of totalitarianism was entirely different from the way the Nazis would view it.
I thought he was the guy who wrote the very first book on the subject, or at least the first to discuss the subject. I don’t know the specifics of how he viewed it, but it must have seemed like a very accurate portrayal of it to him. I’m not sure I agree with him on the subject though. I think the totalitarian state of the 20th century was way worse than what the Nazis were capable of.
According to the BBC, as well as historical accounts, the Nazis were not perfect. They were willing to kill their own people in order to maintain power, but they were also willing to kill their opponents without mercy. Also, the Nazis and other totalitarian regimes had a habit of using violence against their political opponents. But the idea that they were evil in the same way that Stalin and Mao were evil is a bit outlandish, given the fact that these groups were so far from Hitler’s ideals.
The only way to explain this is through the lens of the past. When we saw the Holocaust, Hitler was actually a great man, and the Nazis were still on their way to greatness. When we saw the death of the Jews, Hitler was actually a great Jew of great Jewish origin, and the Nazis were still in this terrible situation. But the worst thing for the Jews in their own communities was the deaths of the dead.
In 1984, at the very end, the villains are shown burning alive a bunch of innocent people. The people they’re burning alive are people who didn’t act in ways that were directly against their own ideals. If you want to be a fan of the 80s, then don’t judge the Nazis or the Jews at all. If you do, then you’re a hypocrite.