The reader Martin Heidegger, unveiled

Hélio Cabral (Journal de Resenhas)
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By SERGIO DA MATA*

Martin Heidegger ruthlessly scribbled over the publications he was interested in, as if he “needed a pencil to think”

Everything about Arnulf Heidegger suggests a discreet existence. Medium height, thin, hair already a little gray and combed back, he was wearing a strictly ordinary gray blazer and light blue shirt. The round, very thin-rimmed glasses and the soft, almost inaudible tone of voice gave me the sensation of being in front of a priest.

On the evening of November 29 last year, like about thirty other people, he attended the German Literature Archive (DLA), based in the sleepy town of Marbach, to watch a special event: a raid on his grandfather's personal library. , Martin Heidegger. Researchers Ulrich von Büllow and Lorenz Wesemann had the task of revealing to the public present part of the secrets contained in the notes that the controversial Black Forest philosopher made in his books.

In an attitude that in no way resembles that “Byzantine love of books” ironized by Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, Martin Heidegger ruthlessly scribbled on the publications in which he was interested. It is clear that of the approximately 1.200 volumes that belonged to his library, and which are in the custody of the DLA, not all contain notes. But as a general rule, says Ulrich von Büllow, it is as if Martin Heidegger “needed a pencil to think.”

In times like today, when the philological predicament has disappeared from our humanities and translation errors have acquired diluvian proportions, it is interesting to see how Martin Heidegger always sought to work with the text in its original language, not without evaluating the problems that exist in the available translations. . With a meticulous spirit and obsession with detail, excerpts from Physics of Aristotle are commented, criticized and associated with others through indexes placed in the margins or inside the back covers. In his Latin copy of the Meditations of Descartes, italics in three different colors indicate criteria of relevance whose meaning, however, still eludes researchers. Next to the famous phrase ego sum, ego exist, he writes in small print: “esse = existere!” – a formula that, we know, will be systematically elaborated in being and time. A rectangle, in bright yellow, frames the question quid est homo? The idea that some impetus for writing his very influential 1927 book may have come from reading the second of Descartes' meditations is still curious.

Judging by the number of marks, Martin Heidegger does not seem to have had any greater interest in Marx. But there are some traces of his reading of the collection Historical materialism. The copy is the same one he took in his hands in a 1969 interview, and which can still be seen on the internet today. His penetrating commentary on the 11th thesis against Feuerbach shows to what extent he made use of the rigorous reading practice acquired in the Catholic seminary. After underlining the word “world” (Welt) in Marx’s text, he writes in the margin: “World, but what is the world?”

Not everything, however, was divergence in the meeting between these two great radical thinkers. For Martin Heidegger marked, without interposing any objection, several passages of On the Jewish Question – a work that his disciple Hannah Arendt considered the founding text of left-wing anti-Semitism.

A separate chapter are the notes in your copy of the Tractatus logical-philosophicus by Wittgenstein. Just below the famous sentence “what one cannot speak of, it is better to remain silent”, Martin Heidegger responds in pencil: Darüber kann man nicht schweigen (“There is no way to remain silent about this matter”). Even in the books of some of his first students, such as Hans-Georg Gadamer and Gerhard Krüger, he left ironic and sometimes malicious comments (“Krüger has no idea what it is to think”).

With the same obsessive detail, he even read his own publications. Your copy of being and time is full of critical observations and comments, which – according to Ulrich von Büllow – possibly documents the moment in which the so-called Kehre of the philosopher.

I was particularly impressed by the treatment given to Rainer Maria Rilke, whose eighth Duino's Elegy Heidegger dissected with such acribia (the flood of marks and italics leaves no room for doubt) that it is difficult to believe that he had, at some point, enjoyed the texts of the great German poet. These markings probably date from the late 1930s or early 1940s, when Heidegger gave his lecture on the fate of the poetic text in an “indigent time”. A diagnosis that perhaps finds its confirmation in this propensity to consider poetry not in and of itself, but as a pretext for thinking.

One of his first and most talented students, Karl Löwith, says that in the early 1920s, when Martin Heidegger saw himself as a Christian theologian, the corner of his cell in Freiburg was adorned with an expressionist-style engraving of the crucified figure. On the work table, two portraits rested: those of Pascal and Dostoevsky. As there are not exactly few similarities between Raskolnikov's psyche and Heidegger's, I just wonder where his copy of Crime and punishment.

Sergio da Mata is a professor at the Department of History at the Federal University of Ouro Preto (UFOP).


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