How smart are people who abuse us, manipulate us, and even go to the point of murdering us? It’s an interesting question in US politics these days.
This question used to come up when I was studying Heidegger. A lot of people studying him were Jews, and they were all human beings, and Heidegger was an enthusiastic apologist for murdering Jews, and other human beings. Back in the day there were three responses to this:
- It doesn’t matter because Heidegger’s thought is really interesting and true.
- It does matter. Heidegger was a Bad Man and we shouldn’t study him.
- Maybe Heidegger didn’t really know what he was doing. He was just a so-so Nazi, and wasn’t really that into it.
Option 3 is idiotic and false and should be ignored.
What interests me now is whether option (1) might have hidden a more sinister, creepy option
4) We really should study people who murdered us because they must have been pretty smart to murder us!
I think that’s a creepy and scary option because it leads to
5)Let’s murder people too — if we aren’t, we’re dumb.
And yet I think it’s a good idea to understand them that wants to murder us, so as to prevent it. And maybe cure them if that’s possible.
If Heidegger were alive today could he be cured? Possibly only if he wanted to be, and he probably wouldn’t want to be.