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Graduate School with Heidegger

3,506 words

HeideggerWritingSpanish translation here

The best decision I ever made was to pursue a Ph.D. in philosophy. I learned about the most important questions, I studied the most profound attempts to answer them, I acquired both the tools and the commitment to pursue the truth, and I became a better—that is, wiser—man in the process. 

No, it did not lead to an academic career. Indeed, all my hopes, schemes, and efforts in that direction just left me discouraged, drained, and embittered. I had the knowledge, skills, and commitment. But I was the wrong race and the wrong sex; I definitely had the wrong politics; and, frankly, I think I took it too seriously and wanted it too much, which does not go over well with people who treat philosophy as merely a technical game or an adjunct to Leftist politics.

Hans-Georg Gadamer told a joke that perfectly sums up my view of academia. On the 8th day, God rose from his rest and decided that Creation needed one more thing to perfect it, so he created the German professor. But then the devil ruined it by creating the colleague.

It is just as well. Knowing what I know now, writing academic journal articles (which get read by maybe 5 or 10 people) seems like fiddling while Rome burns.

Today, I am a teacher without colleagues, I can write whatever I please, my words are read by thousands, and instead of being confined to expensive books and obscure journals, my writings are available free to everyone.

Academia, moreover, has only gotten worse since I got my doctorate. Thus, unless you belong to a politically correct protected group that will guarantee you employment for what you are rather than what you know, I cannot recommend graduate school in philosophy, no matter how much you hunger for wisdom. And that goes for the rest of the humanities as well. The current reign of political correctness will make you miserable throughout your studies and unemployable once they are complete. And you won’t learn that much anyway, because your professors will do more to close off than open up the tradition to you. Moreover, there is very little chance you will find kindred spirits or even good company among your fellow graduate students.

Beyond that, graduate school is costly. Even with a full scholarship and stipend, it will be hard not to go into debt. And even if you don’t leave graduate school with enormous debts, you will still have spent 6 to 10 years getting a Ph.D. while other people your age are starting families and accruing assets. And any undergraduate loans you have will still be there.

Fortunately, it is no longer necessary to go to graduate school to get an excellent Ph.D.-level education in philosophy. For the price of a couple of shelves of books, you can attend the lectures of one of the greatest philosophers and most talented teachers of the 20th century, namely Martin Heidegger. And instead of a troop of tattooed, perforated, sexually confused, and politically correct graduate students, your classmates will be such eminent 20th-century thinkers as Hans-Georg Gadamer, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, Herbert Marcuse, and Jean Beaufret.

The Complete Edition (Gesamtausgabe) of Heidegger’s works contains 52 projected volumes of manuscripts, transcripts, and notes of Heidegger’s lecture courses and seminars, spanning 54 years, from 1919 to 1973. By my count, these volumes contain materials from 53 lecture courses and more than 40 seminars. A significant percentage of these volumes have already been translated into English, and it is probable that virtually all of them will be translated, given enough time.

Although the texts Heidegger prepared for publication are notoriously crabbed and obscure, his lecture courses are lucid and engaging. Heidegger was a legendary teacher, renowned both for the insightfulness and originality of what he said and the spell-bindingly charismatic way he said it. His most eminent students have recorded their impressions. Hans-Georg Gadamer writes:

It is impossible to exaggerate the drama of Heidegger’s appearance in Marburg. Not that he was out for sensation. His appearance in the lecture hall certainly had something of a guaranteed effectiveness to it, but the unique thing about his person and his teaching lay in the fact that he identified himself fully with his work and radiated from that work. Because of him the lecture format became something totally new. It was no longer the “lesson presentation” of a professor who put his essential energy into research and publication.

The “great book” monologues lost their priority of place because of Heidegger. What he provided was the full investment of his energy, and what brilliant energy it was. It was the energy of a revolutionary thinker who himself visibly shrank from the boldness of his increasingly radical questions and who was so filled with the passion of his thinking that he conveyed to his listeners a fascination that was not to be broken. . . . Who among those who then followed him can forget the breathtaking swirl of questions that he developed in the introductory hours of the semester for the sake of entangling himself in the second or third of these questions and then, in the final hours of the semester, rolling up the deep-dark clouds of sentences from which the lightning flashed to leave us half stunned? (Hans-Georg Gadamer, Philosophical Apprenticeships, trans. Robert R. Sullivan [Cambridge: MIT Press, 1985])

Hannah Arendt had a similar experience:

. . . Heidegger’s “fame” predates by about eight years the publication of Sein und Zeit (Being and Time) in 1927; indeed it is open to question whether the unusual success of this book—not just the immediate impact it had inside and outside the academic world but also its extraordinarily lasting influence, with which few of the century’s publications can compare—would have been possible if it had not been preceded by the teacher’s reputation among the students, in whose opinion, at any rate, the book’s success merely confirmed what they had known for many years.

There was something strange about this early fame, stranger perhaps than the fame of Kafka in the early Twenties or of Braque and Picasso in the preceding decade, who were also unknown to what is commonly understood as the public and nevertheless exerted an extraordinary influence. For in Heidegger’s case there was nothing tangible on which his fame could have been based, nothing written, save for notes taken at his lectures which circulated among students everywhere. These lectures dealt with texts that were generally familiar; they contained no doctrine that could have been learned, reproduced, and handed on. There was hardly more than a name, but the name traveled all over Germany like the rumor of the hidden king. (Hannah Arendt, “Martin Heidegger at Eighty,” New York Review of Books, October 21, 1971)

Leo Strauss also found Heidegger immensely impressive:

One of the unknown young men in Husserl’s entourage was Heidegger. I attended his lecture course from time to time without understanding a word, but sensed that he dealt with something of the utmost importance to man as man. I understood something on one occasion: when he interpreted the beginning of the Metaphysics. I had never heard nor seen such a thing — such a thorough and intensive interpretation of a philosophic text. On my way home I visited Rosenzweig and said to him that compared to Heidegger, Max Weber, till then regarded by me as the incarnation of the spirit of science and scholarship, was an orphan child. (Leo Strauss, “A Giving of Accounts,” Jewish Philosophy and the Crisis of Modernity: Essays and Lectures in Modern Jewish Thought, ed. Kenneth Hart Green [Albany: SUNY Press, 1997], p. 461)

What are the chances you will find such a teacher in any graduate program today? Fortunately, because of the publication of Heidegger’s lectures and seminars, now you don’t need to.

There are two ways to use Heidegger’s lectures and seminars: some courses stand on their own, while others are commentaries on texts that should be read in conjunction. As you will discover, Heidegger’s coverage of certain texts was sometimes highly selective. Sometimes he digressed from his outline or ran out of time. But these are no objections, because lesser teachers do the same things too. And if it didn’t hurt Gadamer, Arendt, and Strauss, it probably won’t hurt you.

As you will also discover, people strongly disagree with Heidegger’s philosophy and his readings of other thinkers. But this is no objection either, because the same can be said of every lesser teacher as well.

One drawback of reading lecture courses is that you can’t ask Heidegger questions. But trust me, if you were actually there, you probably would have been too intimidated to say anything anyway. Gadamer tells the story of one of Edmund Husserl’s lectures, in which he spoke for an hour, took one question, spent another hour answering it, then dismissed the class. As Husserl left the lecture hall, he turned to Heidegger, who has his assistant at the time, and remarked on what an exciting discussion they’d had that day (Philosophical Apprenticeships, 36). In truth, Heidegger was probably no better. And we should all be grateful, because you wouldn’t want to be reading transcripts of graduate student questions anyway. (The most frustrating feature of the seminar notes is that the students’ views — and confusions — often intrude.)

Another disadvantage of merely reading lecture courses is that one cannot discuss them with one’s fellow students — although one can, of course, read what Gadamer, Arendt, Strauss, Löwith, and others had to say about Heidegger.

Both of these problems can somewhat be ameliorated by the internet. You can discuss Heidegger’s lectures and seminars with people around the globe, including credentialed Heidegger scholars, perhaps the very editors and translators of the volumes you are reading.

To that end, I have secured the domain name Although I do not have the time to run another website, I would be glad to work with responsible parties who are willing to create a web forum with sub-forums devoted to all of Heidegger’s lecture courses and seminars. Although one cannot ask Heidegger questions, one might be able to get recognized Heidegger scholars to pinch hit for him if the community becomes large and vibrant enough.

The rise of podcasting also provides a promising medium. It would be an interesting experiment for a talented speaker to perform and record audio versions of Heidegger’s lectures.

Heidegger cannot provide a complete graduate education alone, although his expertise is far wider than most professors. But no graduate program consists merely of coursework. The core of a graduate curriculum is a comprehensive reading list, on which students are examined. I recommend that you adopt a reading list from a Ph.D. program that puts a strong emphasis on the history of philosophy.

One’s coursework can never cover everything on such a reading list, so a significant portion of graduate study is self-education anyway. But, then again, one of the principal goals of graduate school is to produce educators — or, people who are at least capable of educating others, since you don’t really know it unless you can pass it on — and your first student should always be yourself.

Most Ph.D. programs require 18 to 20 lecture courses or seminars. Heidegger, however, left us more than 90 to choose from. Heidegger did not teach every subject, but most graduate students never take coursework from a whole philosophy faculty that is broader than what Heidegger offers alone. And if you really work through even half of Heidegger’s lecture courses and seminars, you will be vastly better-educated than many newly-minted Ph.D.s.

But what if you are not ready for graduate-level study in philosophy? The answer is simple. Before you go to graduate school with Heidegger, I suggest you go to undergraduate school with Kant, Hegel, and Nietzsche. One could get an excellent undergraduate-level education in philosophy by working through Kant’s lectures on metaphysics, ethics, logic, and philosophical theology; Hegel’s lectures on The History of Philosophy, The Philosophy of World History, The Philosophy of Religion, and Aesthetics; and Friedrich Nietzsche’s lectures on early Greek philosophy (The Pre-Platonic Philosophers and Philosophy in the Tragic Age of the Greeks). Like Heidegger, Kant and Hegel were terrible writers but engaging and accessible lecturers.

I also recommend supplementing one’s graduate coursework with Alexandre Kojève’s Introduction to the Reading of Hegel: Lectures on the Phenomenology of Spirit and Leo Strauss’s lectures covering Aristophanes, Plato, Xenophon, Aristotle, Cicero, Machiavelli, Hobbes, Spinoza, Vico, Rousseau, Kant, Hegel, Marx, and the central questions of political philosophy.

The Western intellectual tradition is too precious to be left in the hands of an ideologically corrupt and hostile educational system. This is particularly true of philosophy. Much of academia is simply a museum full of dead and taxidermied cultural curios. They are worthy products of human creativity, precious parts of our heritage that should be preserved rather than distorted and destroyed by ideologues and obscurantists. But they are of interest to few and of vital importance to none.

Philosophy, however, is of vital importance to everyone who wishes to lead a good life, for philosophy is the pursuit of wisdom, and wisdom is the ability to make right use of all things. Fortune deals some of us good hands, others bad ones. Wisdom is what allows us to play our cards well, so we lead the best lives possible. Thus everyone needs philosophy, which means that everyone needs philosophy teachers, which means that we need to find non-academic paths to mastering philosophy and passing it on.

Graduate school with Heidegger — combining a good comprehensive reading list, Heidegger’s lectures and seminars, and internet based discussion — is merely one possible alternative to academia as usual. I urge you to try it, or to propose something better.

There are few if any teachers alive today who can offer you a better graduate education than Heidegger. And thanks to the publication of his lecture courses and seminars, the “hidden king” of thought can now reign openly, as long as there are students who wish to hear him.

Heidegger’s Lecture Courses and Seminars

The following list comprises Heidegger’s lecture courses and seminars. It does not include Heidegger’s published and unpublished books and essays, stand-alone lectures, notebooks, and correspondence, although these of course can supplement his lectures and seminars. Some entries are repeated, since they fall under multiple headings. The initial numbers refer to the volumes of Heidegger’s Complete Edition. The years in parentheses refer to the original year(s) of the lecture course or seminar. 

Introductions to Philosophy

27: Einleitung in die Philosophie (1928).
Translation in preparation as Introduction to Philosophy.

Ancient Philosophy Surveys

22: Grundbegriffe der antiken Philosophie (1926). (Covers the pre-Socratics, Plato, and Aristotle.)
Translated as Basic Concepts of Ancient Philosophy.

Early Greek Philosophy

35: Der Anfang der abendländischen Philosophie (Anaximander und Parmenides) (1932).
Translated as The Beginning of Western Philosophy: Interpretation of Anaximander and Parmenides.

54: Parmenides (1942).
Translated as Parmenides.

55: Heraklit.
Der Anfang des abendländischen Denkens (Heraklit) (1943). 2. Logik. Heraklits Lehre vom Logos (1944).
Translation in preparation as Heraclitus.

8: Was heisst Denken? (1951–52), Part II. (Parmenides)
Translated as What Is Called Thinking? 

15: Heraklit with Eugen Fink (1966-67).
Translated as Heraclitus Seminar.

15: Vier Seminare, Seminar in Le Thor (1966) (Heraclitus)
Translated as Four Seminars.


19: Platon: Sophistes (1924).
Translated as Plato’s Sophist.

34: Vom Wesen der Wahrheit. Zu Platons Höhlengleichnis und Theätet (1931).
Translated as The Essence of Truth: On Plato’s Cave Allegory and Theaetetus.

36/37: Sein und Wahrheit.
1. Die Grundfrage der Philosophie (1933).
2. Vom Wesen der Wahrheit (1933–34).
Translated as Being and Truth.

83: Seminare: Platon—Aristoteles—Augustinus. (Covers the Parmenides and Phaedrus.)


61: Phänomenologische Interpretationen zu Aristoteles: Einführung in die phänomenologische Forschung (1921).
Translated as Phenomenological Interpretations of Aristotle: Initiation into Phenomenological Research.

62: Phänomenologische Interpretationen ausgewählter Abhandlungen des Aristoteles zur Ontologie und Logik (1922). (Deals with parts of the Metaphysics and Physics.)
Translation in preparation.

18: Grundbegriffe der aristotelischen Philosophie (1924).
Translated as Basic Concepts of Aristotelian Philosophy.

33: Aristoteles: Metaphysik IX (1931).
Translated as Aristotle’s Metaphysics Theta 1-3: On the Essence and Actuality of Force.

83: Seminare: Platon—Aristoteles—Augustinus. (Covers Metaphysics books Gamma and Zeta, Physics book Beta [three different seminars], and Physics book Gamma.)

Neoplatonism & Augustine

60: Phänomenologie des religiösen Lebens.
1. Einleitung in die Phänomenologie der Religion (1920–21).
2. Augustinus und der Neuplatonismus (1922).
3. Die philosophischen Grundlagen der mittelalterlichen Mystik (Ausarbeitungen und Entwürfe zu einer nicht gehaltenen Vorlesung 1918–19).
Translated as The Phenomenology of Religious Life.

83: Seminare: Platon—Aristoteles—Augustinus. (Covers time in Augustine’s Confessions, book XI.)

Survey: Aquinas to Kant

23: Geschichte der Philosophie von Thomas v. Aquin bis Kant (1926). (Covers Aquinas, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, Christian Wolff, and Christian August Crusius.)


26: Metaphysische Anfangsgründe der Logik im Ausgang von Leibniz (1928).
Translated as The Metaphysical Foundations of Logic.

10: Der Satz vom Grund (1955–56).
Translated as The Principle of Reason.

84: Seminare: Leibniz—Kant—Schiller. (Deals with the Monadology.)


25: Phänomenologie Interpretation von Kants Kritik der reinen Vernunft (1927).
Translated as Phenomenological Interpretation of Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason.

31: Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit. Einleitung in die Philosophie (1930).
Translated as The Essence of Human Freedom: An Introduction to Philosophy.

41: Die Frage nach dem Ding. Zu Kants Lehre von den transzendentalen Grundsätzen (1935).
Translated as What Is a Thing?

84: Seminare: Leibniz—Kant—Schiller. (The first of the two volumes to be published contains three seminars, two on the Critique of Pure Reason and one on Progress in Metaphysics.)


84: Seminare: Leibniz—Kant—Schiller.


28: Der Deutsche Idealismus (Fichte, Hegel, Schelling) und die philosophische Problemlage der Gegenwart (1929).
Translation in preparation as German Idealism.


85: Vom Wesen der Sprache: Die Metaphysik der Sprache und die Wesung des Wortes; zu Herders Abhandlung »Über den Ursprung der Sprache« (1939).
Translated as On the Essence of Language: The Metaphysics of Language and the Essencing of the Word; Concerning Herder’s Treatise on the Origin of Language.


32: Hegels Phänomenologie des Geistes (1930).
Translated as Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit.

28: Der Deutsche Idealismus (Fichte, Hegel, Schelling) und die philosophische Problemlage der Gegenwart (1929).
Translation in preparation as German Idealism.

86: Seminare: Hegel—Schelling (Covers The Philosophy of Right, Phenomenology of Spirit, and the Science of Logic.)

15: Vier Seminare, Seminar in Le Thor (1968)
Translated as Four Seminars.


39: Hölderlins Hymnen »Germanien« und »Der Rhein« (1934).
Translated as Hölderlin’s Hymns “Germania” and “The Rhine”.

52: Hölderlins Hymne »Andenken« (1941).
Translation in preparation as Hölderlin’s Hymn “Andenken.”

53: Hölderlins Hymne »Der Ister« (1942).
Translated as Hölderlin’s Hymn “The Ister”.


42: Schelling: Über das Wesen der menschlichen; a.k.a. Schelling: Vom Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit (1809) (1936).
Translated as Schelling’s Treatise on Essence Human Freedom.

49: Die Metaphysik des deutschen Idealismus. Zur erneuten auslegung von Schelling: Philosophische untersuchungen ueber das Wesen der menschlichen Freiheit und die damit zusammenhaengenden Gegenstände (1809) (1941).

28: Der Deutsche Idealismus (Fichte, Hegel, Schelling) und die philosophische Problemlage der Gegenwart (1929).
Translation in preparation as German Idealism.

86: Seminare: Hegel—Schelling.


43: Nietzsche: Der Wille zur Macht als Kunst (1936).
Translated as Nietzsche, vol. 1: The Will to Power as Art.

44: Nietzsches Metaphysische Grundstellung im abendländischen Denken: Die ewige Wiederkehr des Gleichen (1937).
Translated as Nietzsche, vol. 2: The Eternal Recurrance of the Same.

46: Nietzsches II. Unzeitgemässe Betrachtung (1938).
Translated as Interpretation of Nietzsche’s Second Untimely Meditation.

47: Nietzsches Lehre vom Willen zur Macht als Erkenntnis (1939).
Translated as Nietzsche, vol. 3: The Will to Power as Knowledge and as Metaphysics.

48: Nietzsche: Der europäische Nihilismus (1940).
Translated as Nietzsche, vol. 4: Nihilism.

50: Nietzsches Metaphysik (1941–42).
Einleitung in die Philosopie—Denken und Dichten (1944–45).
Nietzsches Metaphysik was translated as “Nietzsche’s Metaphysics” (in Nietzsche, vol. 3: The Will to Power as Knowledge and as Metaphysics)
Einleitung in die Philosopie was translated as Introduction to Philosophy — Thinking and Poetizing.

87: Seminare: Nietzsche. Übungen SS 1937. Nietzsches metaphysische Grundstellung. Sein und Schein (1937).

8: Was heisst Denken? (1951–52), Part I.
Translated as What Is Called Thinking?


56/57: Zur Bestimmung der Philosophie .
1: Die Idee der Philosophie und das Weltanschauungsproblem (1919).
2: Phänomenologie und transzendentale Wertphilosophie (1919).
3: Anhang: Über das Wesen der Universität und des akademischen Studiums (1919).
Translated as Towards the Definition of Philosophy.

58: Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie (1919).
Translated as Basic Problems of Phenomenology.

59: Phänomenologie der Anschauung und des Ausdrucks. Theorie der philosophischen Begriffsbildung (1920).
Translated as Phenomenology of Intuition and Expression.

63: Ontologie: Hermeneutik der Faktizität (1923).
Translated as Ontology: The Hermeneutics of Facticity.

17: Einfürung in die phänomenologische Forschung; a.k.a. Der Beginn der neuzeitlichen Philosophie (1923).
Translated as Introduction to Phenomenological Research.

20: Prolegomena zur Geschite des Zeitbegriffs (1925).
Translated as History of the Concept of Time: Prolegomena.

15: Vier Seminare, Seminar in Zähringen (1973)
Translated as Four Seminars.

Phenomenology of Religion

60: Phänomenologie des religiösen Lebens.
1. Einleitung in die Phänomenologie der Religion (1920–21).
2. Augustinus und der Neuplatonismus (1922).
3. Die philosophischen Grundlagen der mittelalterlichen Mystik (Ausarbeitungen und Entwürfe zu einer nicht gehaltenen Vorlesung 1918–19).
Translated as The Phenomenology of Religious Life.

Phenomenology & Psychology

89: Zollikoner Seminare.
Translated as Zollikon Seminars: Protocols — Conversations — Letters.


24: Die Grundprobleme der Phänomenologie (1927).
Translated as The Basic Problems of Phenomenology.

29/30: Die Grundbegriffe der Metaphysik: Welt, Endlichkeit, Einsamkeit (1929).
Translated as The Fundamental Concepts of Metaphysics: World, Finitude, Solitude.

36/37: Sein und Wahrheit.
1. Die Grundfrage der Philosophie (1933).
2. Vom Wesen der Wahrheit (1933–34).
Translated as Being and Truth.

40: Einführung in die Metaphysik (1935).
Translated as Introduction to Metaphysics.

51: Grundbegriffe (1941).
Translated as Basic Concepts.

88: Einübung in das Denken.
1. Die metaphysischen Grundstellungen des abendländischen Denkens.
2. Die Bedrohung der Wissenschaft.

15: Vier Seminare, Seminar in Le Thor (1969)
Translated as Four Seminars.


21: Logik: Die frage nach der Wahrheit (1925).
Translated as Logic: The Question of Truth.

38: Logik als die Frage nach dem Wesen der Sprache (1934).
Translated as Logic As the Question Concerning the Essence of Language.

45: Grundfragen der Philosophie. Ausgewählte »Probleme« der »Logik« (1937).
Translated as Basic Questions of Philosophy: Selected “Problems” of “Logic”.



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  1. Posted February 14, 2016 at 7:01 pm | Permalink

    Pardon the length of my post here, but given David B’s concerns, I figured it would be good advice:

    Without a doubt, go for the technical skill. And, for any others reading this in a similar boat, do *not* even consider going to graduate school in the humanities or social sciences. Getting practical jobs skills vs. pursuing the ‘life of the mind’ are not mutually exclusive. If you love philosophy, then for all the reasons Greg mentions (and more) it is not necessary to pursue either an undergraduate degree or a graduate degree in philosophy, especially if it entails huge student debt. The national student debt problem is a bubble that is going to pop. Within the corporate world, just 5 years ago or so, every entry level or mid-level job required a college degree. In the company I work at (a Fortune 50 company) this sort of college degree requirement has been dropped from virtually every entry level position. IOW, the whole brick and mortar college model is increasingly becoming a financially unfeasible, dinosaur model, one that will in time implode.

    For a few hundred bucks, someone even without a college degree can get certified in SQL and any number of other specialties. I work alongside some people who are really good at what they do (I.T.-wise) who do not have college degrees. (I myself am a Business Analyst working in a Regulatory Dept. I take the regulatory requirements that informs my area’s products, analyze them and ‘convert’ these technical requirements into pseudo-code that our I.T. folks translate into actual source code. I’ve turned down management opportunities because I like working with ‘things’ rather than people.)

    While David B seems to have found his practical route (horticulture), my advice to others in a similar situation: Take a free online version of the Keirsey Temperament Sorter (a sort of mini-Meyers Briggs Type Indicator test) to get your personality type. Then Google your type “and jobs”. For example, I am an INTP. Reading about my type has been incredibly helpful in figuring out which occupations I would enjoy vs. not enjoy. If you love philosophy, consider being a ‘business analyst’, or learn SQL, or consider law (although law is going through massive problems, which, after reading several books about the profession, is why I decided not to go in that direction.) The I.T. world in general has lots of occupations that reward clear, logical thinking.

    On a sidenote:

    Some 25 years ago (yikes), I was finishing up an undergraduate double-major in Economics (for “practical” reasons) and Philosophy (which was my intellectual love), and during my senior year I struggled with the decision of whether to pursue graduate school for a PhD in philosophy. I researched the job market, which was even then getting really bad for white males especially. (It’s much worse now.) I recall a philosophy professor I looked up to who, despite being a white male leftie, warned me that, with the new cultural phenomenon of ‘political correctness’, being a white male would become an obstacle for me in terms of eventual employment. He also mentioned a friend of his who was a businessman, never went to graduate school, yet was one of the world’s leading logicians, publishing in the most prestigious journals. The figure of the great metaphysical poet Wallace Stevens was another source of inspiration in my decision not to pursue graduate studies. Stevens was an insurance executive in Hartford, CT, who began writing poetry in his ‘40s, I believe. He would go on to become one of the most important poets of the 20th century.

    My own philosophical journey began with a freshman fling with Marxism vis-à-vis energetic lectures by NYC-born Jewish professors. This segued into a quasi-Marxist fusion with Postmodernism (e.g., Foucault, Rorty). All of this came into profound doubt, however, upon my stumbling upon Karl Popper’s falsifiability thesis and Hayek’s ‘The Road to Serfdom’, life-changing intellectual doorways I passed. These events, coupled with a Logic 101 course, changed my interests from a generally ‘Continental’ philosophical approach (albeit leftie, relativist incarnations thereof) to a more Anglo-oriented ‘Analytic’ approach. I was soon gobbling up ‘Quine vs. Carnap’ literature, reading contemporary philosophy of language, and the like.

    The most significant pushes I received, and which I am still on the trajectory of, include the later Wittgenstein, a re-engagement with Nietzsche, and most of all, looking into the ‘hard problem’ in philosophy of mind. On the latter subject, I am very much in the camp of the so-called New Mysterians (e.g., Nagel, McGinn, and to a certain degree Searle), whose approach tackles the inherent theoretical limits of materialism, functionalism, and/or physicalist reductionism. And while it’s too long to get into here, it’s my contention that materialist explanations of the mind (and human intentionality, for that matter) lend themselves to liberal politics, while more skeptical New Mysterian positions lend themselves to conservative politics.

    Throughout all these years, college and post-college, I found it hard to read fiction. I became too impatient, dropping such books to get back to what I really loved: philosophy and political theory. As I approached middle-age, however, the ticking of the clock becoming more pronounced, I began to appreciate the ‘Great Books’ of literature more. (I think this is natural too; it doesn’t make sense for an 18 year old freshman to read Eliot or Hemingway; they haven’t lived enough to appreciate the themes.) For the better part of the past 10 years, I have read primarily literature, as well as books on film and aesthetics.

    It is now, at *this* stage of my life (late 40s) where, given the Alt-Right perspectives and concerns that brings us all to sites like Counter-Currents, I am only now beginning to truly explore figures like Hegel and Heidegger, attempting to orient their insights into our current situations.

  2. Dave B.
    Posted February 6, 2016 at 4:06 am | Permalink

    Hello Greg, I was reading through both the article and comments, and as of recently, I wanted to pursue a bachelor’s degree in philosophy, but reading your article posed a lot of questions for me on the direction I need to take. I am currently in community college, and my first year that I attended was devoted to horticulture classes because I have been working in the industry for a while. It was for the sake of practical application, but since taking general education classes last year, I have bounced around with different ideas of which paths I should follow. Since reading your article I am reconsidering whether I should pursue philosophy via academia, or if I should pursue a technical education instead for the sake of gaining a skill that I can make decent money from. Since I respect you a lot and enjoy your writings, I wanted to see what your opinion is.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 12, 2016 at 12:39 am | Permalink

      I really recommend that you pursue marketable skills, preferably ones that allow you to go into business for yourself.

      • Dave B.
        Posted February 13, 2016 at 6:49 am | Permalink

        Thank you for the feedback Greg, I am going to be reassessing my options this year.

  3. Morgan
    Posted February 5, 2016 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    …[P]eople who treat philosophy as merely a technical game or an adjunct to Leftist politics.

    This. Just this. The more “contemporary” philosophy courses I took as opposed to history of philosophy types in order to satisfy requirements for a major—whether in ethics, political philosophy, but especially metaphysics and philosophy of mind—the more I appreciated what an absolute racket academic philosophy is. In a way I respect the “Leftist first philosopher second” professors far more than the people studying and teaching entirely meaningless things or treating the most trivial things with a level of seriousness more than they would the more weighty thinkers and problems.

    What did it for me was reading the conference papers of lecturers. It quickly became apparent that they were engaged in a game using logic with their mates from overseas or around the country to prove or disprove whatever bizarre “thought experiments” they were coming up with. It really is all just a game for these people, and what’s more they are paid very good money to play it.

  4. Harvey
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 8:59 pm | Permalink

    Jacob Friedrich Fries (shaking fist)

  5. Ea
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    I cannot clap you hard enough for this article. Because of what you wrote is that I fully support you as a leading representative of etnonationalism and alternative-right. We need true intellectuals like you. You should keep up philosophical articles. I’m taking the same path but on philosophical -religious studies.

  6. AE
    Posted February 4, 2016 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    I recently started with Introduction to Metaphysics and I didn’t find it very helpful, even after rereading, but Cleary’s introduction to Heidegger in What is a Rune? may have spoiled it for me. If you have a familiarity with Kant (it doesn’t need to be extensive) you may get more out of The Basic Problems of Phenomenology.

    By the way, the single most helpful piece of secondary literature I’ve read so far is Heidegger and the Problem of Knowledge by Guignon. I’m not sure how “orthodox” it is, but it really helped me put Heidegger’s thought into context.

  7. Aiser
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    While these are great thinkers to read and learn from, I personally wonder what it was like to have Prof. Greg Johnson lecturing before a chalk board. Those young black adult don’t know what they may have missed and neglected and most likely never will o.O

    Greg, have you ever written an article review on Rousseau’s “The Social Contract”? I tried searching CC for one but only found one by Alain De Benoist and am curious what you would have written. I just recently got around to reading it.

  8. Sinfrônio Quintanil
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

    Do you believe it is necessary to learn ancient Greek and Latin nowadays?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

      Only if one wants to do advanced academic work with Greek and Latin authors.

  9. Posted February 3, 2016 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    I don’t have a philosophical background so what I know about Heidegger is from reading “Heidegger for dummies” type books and watching lectures on YouTube. So here is my very short summary of Heidegger and Dr. Johnson can critique it.

    As conscious beings, who were thrown into the world, one thing is for certain; this is the fact that we are going to die. We don’t know when or what comes after. So knowing we’re going to die we must live authentically working on some great work and not worry about what the crowd thinks or does. We must each determine what this great work/authentic living means for us. Heidegger’s description of someone living authentically seems a lot like what Zen Buddhists describe or other mystical schools describe as being in the present. The term “mindfulness” is commonly used today to describe this state. So it seems the crux of it is living in the present moment while working on some life’s work?

    end of summary

  10. NND
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:23 pm | Permalink

    Greg, what do you think about Descartes? worth reading?

    Also, do you know the works of Gomez Davila?

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:36 pm | Permalink

      Descartes is the only major philosophy I know who got absolutely nothing right.

      I have not read Gomez Davila. When I was in Budapest, I was impressed to find that he has been translated into Hungarian and published in a very handsome hardcover edition.

      • Johann Sebastian Birch
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

        The two worst days in Western history are the day Mozart died and the day Descartes was born.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:05 am | Permalink

          I like this.

      • NND
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

        There is an english translation of a few selected aphorisms (“Escolios” in spanish)but it is not good…..

        I am studying his works (in spanish) since a couple years ago, and his thought worth the divulgation into the english-speaking readers of Counter Currents. Are you interested in a short introductory article?

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 10:52 pm | Permalink

          Yes, please do.

        • Proofreader
          Posted February 5, 2016 at 12:57 am | Permalink

          Are you referring to the edition of Scholia to an Implicit Text published by Villegas Editores in 2013?

          • NND
            Posted February 11, 2016 at 9:17 am | Permalink

            Yes, that translation. Sadly it is deficient, but you can understand the reasons, Gomez Davila wrote in spanish thinking in spanish, so if you try to translate thinking you have to make an interpretation to some extent, and this could imply an adulteration of the original thought.

            Besides, Gomez Davila is not easy even in spanish. My first language is spanish, and sometimes I have to read two times some Escolio to fully understand what he was trying to say.

          • Proofreader
            Posted February 12, 2016 at 3:57 am | Permalink

            Thank you for your clarification. It might be the case that translating Nicolás Gómez Dávila’s work is like translating Baltasar Gracián’s Oráculo manual y arte de prudencia: translating aphorisms can be surprisingly difficult, given their elliptical wording, allusions, and word play. I haven’t properly examined the translations of Gracián’s work against one another, but it seems clear enough that they vary greatly in quality. Even with the best of translations, a great deal can be lost in translation. I think Jeremy Robbins noted of his translation of Gracián’s work that it would have been a much longer work had it been fully annotated.

  11. rhondda
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:31 pm | Permalink

    I am extremely grateful that an academic career was anathema to you. Should we thank the feminists for that or Marx? How else would we get counter-currents? I remember thinking when I first started reading here that this guy should start a school. Well, you did. Thanks.

  12. Schneiderich
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    Nice Article. This is actually – in my Opinion anyway – the only Way: to go with Heidegger against Academia! The way I’m (desperatly alas!) trying to walk through too.

    Sadly must I confess, that Statements as “…thinkers as Hans-Georg Gadamer, Leo Strauss, Hannah Arendt, Karl Löwith, Hans Jonas, Herbert Marcuse, and Jean Beaufre” made me literally to do a *Facepalm*. Between these “Thikers” can I recommend only HG Gadamer and maybe J. Beaufret. For Example E. Fink, W. Biemel or J. Patočka are also worth it. Compared to Heidegger are however even them – must I say – intellectually reather weak. I would also urge not to killing Time with any of those englisch “Mutations” of Heidegger. I’m sorry to say, German is in this Case quite necessary…

    At this place would I also like to thank for that clever Article about P. Trawnys Books.

    Keep up the good Work and please pardon my reather really poor Englisch.

    Liebe Grüße!

    • c
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:10 pm | Permalink

      Strauss is very interesting once you are aware of his bias, all of which can be found in a public lecture entitled ‘Why We Remain Jews’. He was, in his youth, sympathetic to revolutionary nationalism and left Germany reluctantly. Even though he came to talk a lot about ‘gentlemen’, you will see that he basically considered conservative ‘gentlemen’ (English or Greek) to be laughable and the eternal prey of philosophers – cuckservatives if you will.

      Many libraries do not carry much far-right literature but they do carry Strauss and, believe it or not, Strauss is far-right. However, I do not believe that he is necessary to studying Heidegger.

  13. Jud Jackson
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 6:22 am | Permalink

    Mr. Johnson,

    Very interesting. My question for you is do you have any interest in Analytical Philosophy, British Empiricism, Epistemology and the Philosophy of Science and the Philosophy of Language ? If so, I would love to see an article from you on Descartes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, Russell, Wittgenstein(early or later) Popper, Chisholm, Quine, Kripke, Chalmers or related topics.

    But Continental Philosophy is important and I intend to do some more reading in it.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:27 pm | Permalink

      One should of course read Descartes, Hobbes, Locke, Berkeley, Hume, and so forth. They are part of one’s philosophical education. But the philosophers I come back to again and again are the ancient Greeks and the German idealists, as well as William James. And between the Greeks and the Germans, there are precious few worth revisiting, e.g., Vico and Rousseau. Analytic epistemology and philosophy of language are pretty much useless, although there is real work being done in the philosophy of science and philosophy of mind (e.g. Popper, Kuhn, Searle). Now that I have reached middle age, I shudder at the time I have wasted reading people like Russell and Quine, as well as Derrida and Foucault.

      • AE
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

        Greg, do you think that Merleau-Ponty is worth studying? I’ve been stumping through Heidegger for a few months and I feel like I’m finally making progress. But I think I’ve got Heidegger fatigue, and I’m intrigued by what I’ve read of Merleau-Ponty. If you don’t think he’s worth it, I’ll probably delve more deeply into Nishida. Any advice would be appreciated.

        • Greg Johnson
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

          Merleau-Ponty is French phenomenology at its best. Yes, I would recommend him. Nishida is a fascinating thinker. I would like to revisit him/see what is new.

          • AE
            Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:56 pm | Permalink

            Thanks, Greg.

            Two new translations of Nishida came out around 2012. One is titled Ontology of Production. I can’t recall the other, but it contains his essay on basho. Unfortunately, it was selling for close to $100 last I checked.

          • Greg Johnson
            Posted February 5, 2016 at 1:06 am | Permalink


    • Jud Jackson
      Posted February 4, 2016 at 8:16 am | Permalink

      Mr. Johnson,

      Thank you for responding to my comment. I have a couple of “counter comments” (nice name for a reply to a comment on Counter-Currents is it not?) and a question.

      1. On Quine, I think you are basically correct and I have never read and never will read Quine’s main work Word and Object cover to cover. However, I think Quine’s article “Two Dogmas of Empiricism” is truly remarkable. He may have not succeeded, but he did make a serious challenge to the fundamental idea that permeates most philosophers from at least Leibniz through Hume and Kant and on to 20th Century Logical Positivism (e.g.. Ayer and Carnap), that there is a clear distinction between Analytic and Synthetic statements.

      2. I have never read and never will read Russell and Whitehead’s Principia Mathematica. But this was a serious attempt to reduce all of Mathematics to Logic. And, in response, it generated a paper by Kurt Gödel, in 1931, which convinced the entire world that this reduction could not be achieved. This discovery (Gödel’s Incompleteness Theorem) is considered by many to be one of the supreme intellectual achievements of the 20th Century, on the same level as Einstein’s Special Theory of Relativity. So I think Russell deserves some serious credit here. Without him (and Whitehead), Gödel would never have been able to make this discovery.

      3. Now I have a couple of questions for you Mr. Johnson. You do not emphasize (although you do mention) Thomas Aquinas. What is your opinion of Aquinas as a philosopher? I am thinking of Elizabeth Anscombe who was undoubtedly a highly competent 20th Century philosopher. Her opinion of Aquinas was very high. What is yours? Do you think that any of the “5 Ways” has any chance of proving the existence of the Christian God?

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted February 4, 2016 at 1:38 pm | Permalink

        I didn’t find “Two Dogmas” very convincing, and the Principia was more fertile as a failure, as you observe. As for Aquinas: I read a lot of Aquinas, and I respect him as a thinker. “The Five Ways,” like all natural theology, cannot establish the existence of the Biblical God. Such arguments only establish the existence of a “God of the philosophers,” which lacks any of the distinct identifying traits of the Biblical God. It is perfectly possible to accept natural theology and dismiss the Biblical God as just a myth.

        I have read a lot of medieval philosophy, and it is a mixed experience. On the one hand, I like classical Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy, and much medieval philosophy simply continues that tradition. On the other hand, this philosophy has to be mutilated to accommodate Biblical religion: certain conclusions were prescribed in advance and contrary ideas were punished. So reading medieval philosophy is rather like looking at Greek and Roman sculptures with their noses and genitals broken off (which was often the work of Biblical religionists as well).

  14. Jonathan
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:59 am | Permalink

    I’ve read your article on the importance of studying philosophy, and it makes to me why everyone should try to attain wisdom in order to live a good life.

    But, what I don’t understand is why studying dense German philosophers is the best way to do this.
    Say if I embark on this journey , set aside an hour a day to reading these texts and thinking deeply about these issues (what is being, time and so on). It would take several years to finish.

    Wouldn’t I be better served if i focused more on practical fonts of wisdom? Such as reading biographies of men who have lived good lives like Theodore Roosevelt , or more modern advice like “Gorilla Mindset”.

    I’m just not fully convinced I’ll get closer to living the Good Life by reading about the categorical imperative than say reading an Art of Manliness article on diet or dating.

    • Greg Johnson
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 1:31 pm | Permalink

      For practical purposes, one does not need an advanced education in philosophy. And yes, there are many accessible sources of practical wisdom. And yes, pursuing personal self-improvement is an important use of your time. But the question always comes back to what is the wise use of your time and gifts, and that is an inescapably philosophical question, which is what you are asking.

    • Mighty
      Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:45 pm | Permalink

      If you’re concerned about the time expenditure you’ve already lost. The achievement of wisdom is won through battle. You have to earn it.

      • Greg Johnson
        Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:03 pm | Permalink


        • Mighty
          Posted February 3, 2016 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

          Hey, I gave it my best shot : )

          • TorBaker
            Posted February 4, 2016 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

            I know Im a nobody at this site, but I think you are onto something with your statement.

  15. Ulf Larsen
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 5:56 am | Permalink

    The printer friendly version of this doesn’t work.

  16. c
    Posted February 3, 2016 at 4:38 am | Permalink

    “To that end, I have secured the domain name”

    This is excellent news. I am not certain that a forum/subforum format would be the best use.

    Whatever you decide to do, it will be an improvement on the existing state of affairs and probably a thorn in the side of the Academy.

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