Heidegger on Marx

  • Does Heidegger really think we need certainty to act?

He seems to. Leaving aside the I think frank ludicrousness of the demand, suppose that it's true, and that this stymies Marxism, because as soon as our (certain) philosophising changes it becomes uncertain, and action impossible.

  • Are there alternative forms of sure thinking in which the criteria for "certainty" is lower, so that the knowledge is more ambiguous?

I was thinking of certainty in which the flip side of its equivocal meaning is assumed to be redundant. And this seems to me to be the case in passive moral reasoning: my own values change as I realise them cognitively; but that doesn't mean that I have no knowledge about what these are. I must articulate them with another.


That's not really what he says in the video. The translation in the subtitles there is not the best possible translation. Where the subtitles read "Marx bases it on a completely certain world interpretation," "completely certain" translates the phrase "ganz bestimmten", which means "certain" in the sense of "a specific interpretation," rather than "an interpretation which is certain". A published transcript and translation of the conversation (in the volume Martin Heidegger in Conversation edited by the man interviewing Heidegger, Richard Wisser) runs thus: "Marx rests on a specific interpretation of the world."

Certainty, in the sense of the German Gewissheit, for Heidegger isn't required for action, but it is important in defining the relation to truth (at least in his earlier work). On this, Being and Time §52, §53, and §63 are quite relevant as is the first part of his 1928 lectures published as The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic. Certainty in these discussions may have something more in line with what you're talking about as "alternative forms of sure thinking".

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