EssaysFeatureLiberal Democracy in Question

For Ressentiment: An Alternative to Trumpism

Donald Trump’s campaign of anger may have jumped the shark this past week, and I am afraid that may lead my friends on the Left (whether you like Bernie, Jill, or Hillary) to mistake the lessons of this electoral cycle. It is tempting to believe that the collapsing Trump campaign signals something larger, a triumph of optimism over fear, but that is precisely the lesson we should not draw. Trump’s successes draw on the well of despair and rage in the American voter, but his failure would not mean that despair and rage have lost their political salience. It is high time we on the Left learned to embrace instead of reject ressentiment — the feeling of impotence that leads to anger directed against enemies we blame for our suffering — as a means of mobilizing voters. Ressentiment is a potent political weapon, as Friedrich Nietzsche knew so well, but for the last forty years it has been almost the exclusive provenance of the Right. …


Gianni Vattimo Interview

Gianni Vattimo is considered to be among the most important living European philosophers, alongside Charles Taylor, and Jürgen Habermas.  Known for his interpretation of Nietzsche’s and Heidegger’s philosophies, he also developed a postmodern theory he calls “weak thought,” meant to question the hard objectivity of claims in religion, politics, and culture. Over several decades he maintained a dialogue and correspondence with Jacques Derrida, Richard Rorty, and René Girard. In this interview, he reflects on his life and work, on the occasion of a new Vattimo archive opening in Barcelona.

Claudio Gallo is currently culture editor at La Stampa, a major Italian newspaper. He has also worked as a foreign desk editor and London correspondent, and has written for AsiaTimes, Enduring and the Los Angeles Review of Books. His main interests include Middle East politics and Western philosophy. He interviewed Gianni Vattimo for Public Seminar. …


The German Geist Dwells Nowhere

The turmoil surrounding Heidegger’s Black Notebooks achieved new heights recently, with Freiburg University’s announcement that its legendary Heidegger Lehrstuhl would be abolished and converted to a junior professorship in logic (!) and analytic philosophy, as if to deliberately obliterate Heidegger’s legacy. Apparently, the Lehrstuhl has become too controversial. This decision may well be scandalous, as Markus Gabriel argued on March 3rd in Süddeutsche Zeitung, but the reasons he marshals in defense of a Heidegger Lehrstuhl in his essay — “Where Does German Spirit Dwell?” — seem to us to create needless confusion. A collegial response is in order.


EssaysLiberal Democracy in QuestionTheory & Practice

Heidegger’s Black Notebooks: Extreme Silencing

The Black Notebooks (Die Schwarzen Hefte), containing Martin Heidegger’s assorted thoughts from the 1930s and 40s, throw new light on the self-aggrandizement into totalitarianism of the most German of all philosophers.

The Freiburg professor of philosophy was not yet 50 years old when, in 1937 and 1938, he retraced his way of thought (Denkweg): He conjoined manuscripts of his various books, talks and lectures in a factual (sachlich) and discerning manner, with a view to ascertaining how all of it should be continued, including a publication strategy. Buoyed by the feeling that he had already achieved the “authentic” breakthrough by 1936, as he wrote to his brother Fritz in 1948, he was henceforward convinced of his ability to lead Western philosophy into a form of “thinking” purified by a history of being and event (or enowning) (seins-und ereignisgeschichtlich geläutert) and thus freed …