Sunday, April 24, 2016

Dugin, Evola and Heidegger

René Guénon and Julius Evola played important roles in the early intellectual development of Russia's Alexander Dugin, and Dugin still refers approvingly to the Traditionalist critique of modernity. In recent years, however, Martin Heidegger has become increasingly important to him. Dugin gave Heidegger in 2009 as "the most profound-ontological-foundation" for his "Fourth Political Theory," and published an entire book on Heidegger, Мартин Хайдеггер: философия другого начала (Martin Heidegger: The Philosophy of Another Beginning) in 2010. This book is now available in English translation (Radix, $28), with a preface by the American Paleoconservative Paul E. Gottfried.

The question of the relationship between Heidegger and Traditionalism has been raised before in this blog, in response to an article on the topic by John J. Reilly. An anonymous comment pointed out that Heidegger was anti-metaphysical, and so fundamentally at odds with Traditionalism. Much this point was accepted by Thomas Vašek in a recent article in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, in the context of a discussion of the implications of Vašek's discovery that Heidegger had copied into his notebooks a long passage from the 1935 German translation of Evola's Revolt Against the Modern World. Vašek points out that Evola and Heidegger both understood and condemned modernity as the "reign of quantity." He accepts that Heidegger had no interest in what he calls "mythical high culture" (i.e. Tradition), but thinks that for Evola "mythical high culture... served only as a place-holder for the lost relation to transcendence, to true Being (Sein)." I am not convinced: I think mythical high culture was a lot more than a place-holder for Evola. What is not clear to me is how important "mythical high culture" now is for Dugin.

My thanks to J.W. for bringing Dugin's new book to my attention.


Jon Weidenbaum said...

In holding the thought of Plato as the point where Western metaphysics was derailed, and depicting human existence as thoroughly finite (as invariably temporal and inseparable from its environment) the opposition of Traditionalism to Heidegger (a “decadent philosopher” according to Schuon in a personal letter to Huston Smith) is little surprise. At the same time, there are Heideggarian notions that Traditionalism, as I understand this movement, would very much appreciate: namely a sort of bemoaning of the calculative and scientific character of late modernity, the importance of retrieving a long-buried receptivity to a more primordial truth, among other themes.

Jack said...

Heidegger was anti-metaphysical, but so are some schools of Buddhist thought, which oppose metaphysics as just more conceptuality that needs to be cut through by the sword of direct perception and experience. I think one can read Heidegger in a similar way. Supposedly he responded to the works of D.T. Suzuki by saying: "If he is saying what I think he is saying, then this is what I've been trying to say in all of my books."