Immanen, Mikko E: Marcuse and Husserl as Victims of Heidegger’s Anti-Semitism? The Shadow of the "Black Notebooks”

The first encounter between the philosopher Martin Heidegger and the Frankfurt School critical theory in the late Weimar Republic ended badly, as Heidegger rejected the habilitation study of his German Jewish graduate student Herbert Marcuse. In hindsight, this may have been a forgone conclusion, for in his study Marcuse provocatively suggested that Hegel, not Heidegger, was the originator of the existentialist problematic of “being and time.” While earlier scholarship has briefly speculated on the philosophical and ideological reasons behind Heidegger’s decision, the paper shows that we can learn a great deal of Marcuse’s ill-fated “habilitation odyssey” by examining it in the light of Heidegger’s concurrent break-up with Edmund Husserl, his ex-mentor of Jewish origins. In Heidegger’s recently published “black notebooks” (2014–2015), filled with toxic anti-Semitism, he astoundingly claimed that it was Husserl’s Jewish “race” that prevented him from appreciating Heidegger’s existential version of phenomenology. Taken together with Heidegger’s later anti-Semitic remark on Marcuse and other recent publications (2016) of Heidegger’s texts from the Weimar era, the “black notebooks” suggest that Heidegger’s decision to put an end to Marcuse’s academic career was shot through with anti-Semitic motives.