Black Notebooks - 1931-1941 - first published March 2014
Reviewed by Richard Wolin
...In the anti-philosophical arguments of the Black Notebooks, Heidegger views reason, individualism, and democracy through the prism of modern humanity’s utter and wholesale “abandonment by Being.” His obscure point of departure leads to equally obscurantist forms of criticism. It is not merely Heidegger’s racist reliance on the Volk-ideal that is objectionable. His attempt to ground philosophy in unintelligible concepts and idioms renders his thought, in nearly all of its incarnations, deeply problematic...
Martin Heidegger’s Schwarze Hefte (Black Notebooks), the first three of which have recently been published in Germany to great controversy, will eventually comprise the last eight volumes of his mammoth Gesamtausgabe (Collected Works). When complete, the edition will run to a staggering 102 volumes—more than the collected works of Kant, Hegel, or Nietzsche. At the end of his life, Heidegger, who regarded himself as the greatest thinker in the Western tradition since Heraclitus, meticulously mapped out the (non-chronological) sequence in which his Collected Works would be published and chose the Black Notebooks as the edition’s culminating contribution.
For decades, the guardians of Heidegger’s literary estate, his son Hermann and the Freiburg philosopher Friedrich-Wilhelm von Herrmann, kept the existence of these works, which take their name from the notebooks, bound in black wax and leather, in which he wrote them, a carefully guarded secret. It is not hard to see why, for they reveal the extent to which during the 1930s and 1940s Heidegger was wholly obsessed with Bolshevism, National Socialism, and the ignoble actions of “World Jewry” (Weltjudentum), as represented by Western powers such as England and the United States.