Martin Heidegger's Changing Destinies


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Catholicism, Revolution, Nazism

Guillaume Payen; Translated from the French by Jane Marie Todd and Steven Rendall

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A portrait of Martin Heidegger as a man and a philosopher
In this biography of Martin Heidegger (1889–1976), now available in English, historian Guillaume Payen synthesizes the connections between the German philosopher’s life and work. Critically, but without polemics, he creates a portrait of Heidegger in his time, using all available sources—lectures, letters, and the notorious “black notebooks.”
Payen chronicles Heidegger’s “changing destinies”: after the First World War, an uncompromising Catholicism gave way to a vigorous striving for a philosophical revolution—fertile ground for National Socialism. The book reflects a life of light and shadow. Heidegger was a great philosopher and teacher who cultivated friendships and love affairs with Jews but also was an anti-Semitic nationalist who lamented the “Judaization of German intellectual life.”

Guillaume Payen is professor of history at Sorbonne Université in Paris. He lives in Paris. Jane Marie Todd (1957–2021) was a translator of over eighty books. Steven Rendall has translated ninety-five books from French and German.

“In this engaging, lively narrative, Payen masterfully presents the vast trajectory of Heidegger’s intellectual and personal life without flinching from disturbing elements but also without deciding for the reader what the most shocking of these might mean for an assessment of the philosophy, the man, or the intersections of the man and the thinking. What emerges is an intimate and provocative portrait of Heidegger’s life and legacy.”—Gregory Fried, Boston College

“Payen’s volume ranks as one of the best biographies of Heidegger in any language. Among its many strengths, his reading of Heidegger’s anti-Semitism is thorough, judicious, and painstakingly grounded in all the available texts.”—Thomas Sheehan, Stanford University
ISBN: 9780300228328
Publication Date: April 18, 2023
720 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4