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Heidegger on Ontotheology: Technology and the Politics of Education Paperback – July 11, 2005

ISBN-13: 978-0521616591 ISBN-10: 052161659X

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"The impressive achievement of this book is the way Thomson, by focusing on Heidegger's historicist understanding of metaphysics, manages to make the thought of 'the later Heidegger,' so often charged with obscurity and mysticism, accessible and philosophically interesting."  -Ingvild Torsen, Review of Metaphysics.

"By far the deepest and the most illuminating account of the relation between Heidegger's philosophy and his politics yet offered. Thomson shows convincingly how Heidegger's political engagement followed from his understanding of the role of philosophy in the university and how what was most original and important in his later thinking emerged as a result of this tragic involvement."
-Hubert Dreyfus, University of California, Berkeley

"Heidegger on Ontotheology is a must-read for anyone who is seriously interested in Heidegger or the development of German philosophy during the 20th century. It is a trail-blazing study, bringing to the interpretation of Heidegger's later philosophy the clarity and rigor that have until now been restricted to works on Heidegger's early period. The central thesis of the book is that Heidegger's metaphilosophy, his critique of technology, and the catastrophe of his involvement in Nazism are all interconnected. Thomson is the first author to establish a thoughtful, credible, and direct connection between Heidegger's philosophy of the 1920s and his involvement in Nazism. Thomson answers a challenge posed to readers of Heidegger: to acknowledge this connection, while at the same time salvaging what remains important and even urgent in Heidegger's critiques of the culture of technology and modern university education."
-Bill Blattner, Georgetown University

"This is compelling material that reads in part like a detective story and in part like a confessional biography; it is rare stuff, indeed, in philosophy and yet tragically and inescapably a crucial part of history of late-modern Western philosophy (as it is to date the most tragic and ultimately nihilistic espisode in European culture). ...In short, this book is to be highly recommended. It is refreshingly free of jargon; it shines brightly in its intelligence and lays out the issues expertly. It deserves the widest readership and critical discussion, andit is to be hoped that this review might so inspire education scholars."
-Michael Peters, Columbia University Teachers College Record

"This impressive study argues that Heidegger's deconstruction of metaphysics as ontotheology, when suitably understood , provides the key to his misunderstood critique of technology and to the underappreciated potential of his thought to contribute to efforts to respond to 'our own growing crisis in higher education.' The author is well versed in Heidegger's thought and the extensive secondary literature on it and he puts this expertise to superb use in a text that is lucidly written with intelligence, verve, and conviction."
-Daniel Dahlstrom, Notre Dame Philosophical Review

"This book is substantial achievement, exhibiting both scholarly erudition and philosophical sensitivity at virtually every turn. ...Thomson's work stands as a significant accomplishment. He has succeeded in creating a lively and engrossing portrait of Heidegger's thought. This book indeed sets a hight standard by which future studies of Heidegger will have to be judged."
-Benjamin Crowe, Philosophy in Review

"The book is generally well written and...intelligible almost throughout...The treatments of Kant and Nietzche are instructive and add to the read usefulness of the book. For those interested in its primary aim, and we ought to be, it is a work of real value."
-Department of Classics, Dalhousie University and King's College, Canada, Ancient Philosophy

Book Description

Heidegger is now widely recognized as one of the most influential and controversial philosophers of the twentieth century, yet much of his later philosophy remains shrouded in confusion and controversy. Restoring Heidegger's understanding of metaphysics as "ontotheology" to its rightful place at the center of his later thought, this book demonstrates the depth and significance of his controversial critique of technology, his appalling misadventure with Nazism, his prescient critique of the university, and his important philosophical suggestions for the future of higher education. It will be required reading for those seking to understand the relationship between Heidegger's philosophy and National Socialism, as well as the continuing relevance of his work.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (July 11, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 052161659X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521616591
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,487,052 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Iain Thomson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of New Mexico. The author of two books and dozens of articles in philosophical journals, essay collections, and reference works, Thomson is a leading expert on the thought of Martin Heidegger. A recipient of the Gunter Starkey Award for Teaching Excellence, he is well known for his ability to bring Heidegger's difficult ideas to life for contemporary readers.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 6 customer reviews
The book flows very well and Thomson presents his arguments wonderfully.
L. Gianattasio
Thomson does an excellent job explaining the way in which Being, as the source of intelligibility for beings as a whole, is what Heidegger called an Ungrund.
Brian C.
Students of the history of philosophy will find here one of the best available introductions to the Later Heidegger.
Brent Kalar

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Brent Kalar on July 20, 2005
Format: Paperback
Thomson's groundbreaking study skillfully combines (1) a rigorous philosophical analysis of the foundations of Heidegger's later philosophy, (2) a convincing historical reconstruction of the link between Heidegger's philosophy and his infamous involvement with Nazism, and (3) a demonstration of the continuing relevance of Heidegger to the contemporary crisis of purpose in higher education. The book is informative, meticulous, and beautifully- written. It is philosophically substantive without bogging the reader down in minutiae, serious without being turgid. Thomson writes in a clear and crisp style that is a joy to read, and he has much to say that is of interest -- not only to students of Heidegger, but to anyone concerned with the future of the university and, indeed, civilization as a whole. Students of the history of philosophy will find here one of the best available introductions to the Later Heidegger. Weary veterans of the controversy over Heidegger's politics should welcome Thomson's moderate position as a sensible and much-needed attempt at mediation between the warring factions. Disspirited culture-warriors will find new food for thought and discussion in Thomson's suggestions regarding how we might apply Heidegger's best insights to rejuvenate the university and society. This book is a veritable feast for the mind. Once I started reading, I couldn't put it down!
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Louis Berger on April 28, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am not a philosopher, but have been studying Heidegger, especially the secondary literature, for many decades. This superb work may not be for the first-time reader of Heidegger's thought, but it is so lucid and well-organized that although for me it required careful, "slow" reading, it should be quite accessible to anyone who is even superficially acquainted with that thought; it would also be invaluable to the more experienced reader. Paradoxically, it is introductory in a sense, yet advanced. The book clarifies key issues in Heidegger's later thought, ones that typically are passed over in the other critiques I know. It carefully explains and explores his key term, "ontotheology"; usefully contributes to the already available voluminous discussions of "technological" or "calculative" thinking (roughly: "Gestell"); in the context of university education examines in great detail Heidegger's proposed alternatives to that calculative thinking; and, contributes thoughtfully to the many already available extensive debates and discussions pertaining to Heidegger's role in the Nazi regime. Furthermore, the author obviously is sensitive to and considerate of the reader's plight in understanding complex, difficult, highly non-standard material, and expands on major and minor points in highly useful, clear, well-organized ways. Obviously, I am much taken with this work--something that does not happen to me very often!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By L. Gianattasio on September 21, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book is a fantastic contribution to the vast array of books on Heidegger's thought. It shows the development of his philosophy over time and his confrontation with the tragedy of Nazism in a positive way, rather than re-hashing dry debates over whether or not in condemns his project as a whole. The book flows very well and Thomson presents his arguments wonderfully. The points are explained lucidly and in depth, and he makes sure to integrate the each one into the overall thesis of the book. The organization of the sections is superb, his writing is clear, manageable, and yet still revealing, and the topics that are covered in the book fit into a cohesive whole that forms a powerful critique of our post-modern age.

In sum, I highly recommend this book to any who are grappling with Heidegger's thought.

-G.
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