Seminar in Zähringen 1973 [131–133]

of Feuerbach’s critique): “The criticism of religion ends with the teaching that man is the highest being for man.”121

My Marx interpretation, Heidegger explains, is not political. It is concerned with being and the manner in which it destines itself. It is in this perspective and from this vision that I can say that with Marx the position of the most extreme nihilism is reached.122

This thesis does not mean anything other than: in the doctrine which explicitly states that man is the highest being for man, one finds the ultimate grounding and confirmation of the fact that being as being is nothing [nihil] anymore for man.

To understand Marx’s statement politically is thus to make politics one of the modes of self-production – which is perfectly consistent with Marx’s thought.

But how can we read this sentence otherwise, how can we read it as a metaphysical statement? By noting the strange leap made by Marx over a missing link. Indeed, what does the statement actually say?

“To be radical is to grasp the root of the matter. But for man the root is man himself.” Here, Heidegger notes, an intermediary thought is missing, which makes it possible to go from the first thought to the second. It is the idea that what matters [die Sache] is man. For Marx, it is decided from the outset that man and only man (and nothing else) is what matters. From what is this decided? In what manner? With what right? By which authority?

One can only answer these questions by referring to the history of metaphysics. Marx’s statement is thus decidedly to be understood as a metaphysical statement.

These additions made, we can return to the question that guides this entire seminar: the question concerning the access to being.

Heidegger speaks:

According to me, the entry into the essential domain of Da-sein, discussed at the end of yesterday’s session – that entry which would render possible the experience of the instancy in the clearing of being – is only possible through the detour of a return to the beginning.

But this return is not a “return to Parmenides.” It is not a question of returning to Parmenides. Nothing more is required than to turn towards Parmenides.

The return occurs in the echo of Parmenides. It occurs as that hearing which opens itself to the word of Parmenides from out of our present age, the epoch of the sending of being as positionality.

In Being and Time, there is already such a return, although still somewhat awkward. Indeed, in Being and Time, it takes place as destruction, that is, as disintegration, dismantling of that which, from the beginning,

121 TN: Karl Marx, “Contribution to the Critique of Hegel’s Philosophy of Law,” CW 3, p. 182.

122 Heidegger thinks of “nihilism” as “the fundamental movement of the history of the West . . . not only a phenomenon of the present age, nor even a product originally of the nineteenth century . . .” (GA 5: 201–202/Off the Beaten Track, pp. 163–164; cf. also “On the Question of Being” in GA 9: 385–426/Pathmarks, pp. 291–322; Nietzsche, vols. 1–2/Nietzsche, vols. 1–4).

Martin Heidegger (GA 15) Four Seminars