Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Hart Fails to Connect the Dots

arroba Email

I commend to our readers David Bentley Hart’s article, A Philosopher in the Twilight, in the February 2011 First Things.  Dr. Hart muses over Martin Heidegger’s late philosophy, especially his views regarding the connection between the Western intellectual tradition and nihilism. 
I admire and respect Dr. Hart greatly.  His new articles is, as usual, full of thought provoking insights displaying his all-too-rare combination of deep learning, wisdom and the ability to write engaging prose.  The following passage from the article is puzzling to me though:

It simply cannot be denied that the horrors of the last century were both conceptually and historically inseparable from some of the deepest principles of modernity’s founding ideologies. The ‘final solution’ was a kind of consummation of all the evils of European history, perhaps, but it was possible as a conscious project only in an age in which humanity itself had first been reduced to a technology (the technology of race).

Dr. Hart’s statement is exactly correct.  That is not the puzzling part.  The puzzling part is that Dr. Hart seems unwilling to take his conclusion the next logical step.  The Nazi’s reduction of humanity to technology would have been quite impossible apart from Darwinism, which, based on other articles I have read, Hart appears to accept without reservation (at least in its TE form).

Barry has it right. I have just read Bonhoeffer, by Eric Metaxas, and believe that the phrase "Darwinism in its TE form" would have been laughable to Hitler, and had he heard it, he quite possibly could have beaten Lenin to the punch with the term "useful idiots". The key here is in the root of the word technology (techne) which has an early meaning of craftsmanship or even art but would have been understood by Hitler in mechanistic, almost mechanical, terms; under the Fuhrer (planner), some people initially swear allegiance, others are coerced to bow in obeisance as servants, still more are later positioned like pawns, some molded into cogs, and when evil gets a further, final foothold. . . Techne disregards both immanence and transcendence; techne responds to necessities, practicalities, and pragmatism. Although this idea of "technology of race" is descriptive, Hart should have identified clearly that which was virtually the only game in town to support such a "technology". Nietzsche may have provided the cover for aspects of Hitler's "pragmatism," but the foundational definitions for Hitler of what it meant to be the physical beings we call human, and those who didn't "qualify", arose from Darwinism. BTW, the Bonhoeffer book is well-done, and should be read if only for the partial text of Bonhoeffer's speech concerning the Fuhrer given just after Hitler's election and prior to the burning of the Reichstag. The chapter entitled, "The Fuhrer Principle" is excellent. In fact, the entire book is a thoughtful narrative of an incredibly rich life. It also effectively introduces Bonhoeffer's theology/ecclesiology/ethics which we are invited to witness in the life he lived. Tim
nullasalus - Not quite. It also takes that humans are more than machine - that the world isn't just a material world. That takes more than Darwinism, that takes a spiritual dimension as well, which is completely outside the Darwinian framework. For someone to be an evolutionist and an anti-materialist, it must mean that they hold their own evolutionism to be incomplete, and that, somewhere in the past, God intervened to give us a spiritual dimension. johnnyb
The Nazi’s reduction of humanity to technology would have been quite impossible apart from Darwinism, which, based on other articles I have read, Hart appears to accept without reservation (at least in its TE form). I'm not so sure about this. Darwinism in its TE form - depending on that form - can be... well, "Not Darwinism". If someone accepts evolution, variation, and selection not only as tools God uses, but as tools whose ends and results God foreknew, then either that's not Darwinism - or it's a kind of Darwinism that would not reduce humanity to 'technology'. It's not for nothing that Jerry Coyne and others find TE to be every bit as unacceptable as ID (or even identify the two as one and the same.) nullasalus
Hitler's theology was that he was to be worshiped as a god who brought Germany back to its empirical roots. Religion only mattered to Hitler if he could control it. That is why some who opposed him were sent to the concentration camps. He asserted in Mein Kampf that survival of the fittest was the doctrine that would bring Germany into the world spotlight and make it a superpower to be reckoned with. Barb
Hitler's theology had nothing to do with Luther's condemnation of Jews? critter

Leave a Reply