, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 607-614
Date: 21 Jun 2012

American Heideggers … and Heidegger

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In the opening pages of Heidegger in America [HA], Woessner remarks that Heidegger has lived “a curious afterlife on this side of the Atlantic”. His influence has been “widespread and far-reaching,” but his thought has also been strangely transformed by its ocean crossing. “Heidegger, the one-time defender of all things Heimat-related, is now a cosmopolitan point of reference”. Indeed, the author likens America’s Heidegger to a kind of mirror or blank page on which admirers and detractors alike have “projected […] their own fantasies” (pp. 2–3). Woessner’s book recounts many of these fantasies, yet he cautions us not to miss the larger, more serious purpose of his “reception history”. His larger ambition is to show how, to an unusual degree, Heidegger has always been “both an object and a generator of intellectual paradigms”.

Obviously, part of Woessner’s job is just to get the chronology right, and to trace out the process by which Heidegger was translated, interpreted, and spread into ...