A plaque commemorating Martin Heidegger

Heidegger’s heritage: The temporal politics of authenticity, then and now

This article was written by Andrew Hom
This article was published on

In this short summary video, author Andrew Hom goes through the key arguments from his new Review of International Studies article - Heidegger’s heritage: The temporal politics of authenticity, then and now. This article is part of a special issue on Existentialism that will be published late in 2023.

Want to know more? You can read the full article at DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/S026021052200064X

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For a discipline as philosophically and temporally sensitive as International Relations, it is curious that Martin Heidegger, widely considered the most important philosopher of the twentieth century, has only recently begun to receive disciplinary attention. It is also noteworthy that as IR begins to grapple with right-wing extremism, it has not addressed Heidegger’s fascist politics. Conducting a close reading of his account of existence in time, this article argues that from his magnum opus to his final diaries, Heidegger prefigured many existentialist discussions, but his particular conceptualisations of time, temporality, and authentic Being lent political life a dangerous edge. Scrutinising both the conceptual and practical consequences of Heidegger’s thought, this article traces key tensions in his claims that, to realise true Selfhood, we must overcome social time on the road to death. This antagonism encourages overly individuated and aggressive habits of thought and action that reject the possibilities of co-existence. We can see this in how Heidegger’s obsession with authenticity over time pushed him deeper into Nazism, and in the ways that his existential vernacular resounds through today’s right-wing renaissance. Juxtaposing authenticity, then and now, helps draw out the distinctively temporal dynamics of Heidegger’s existentialism as well as the existential politics of our time.

Image by Andreas Praefcke licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.