Volume 6, 2016
Timothy Sean Quinn
Heidegger and Jünger: Nihilism and the Fate of Europe
In the 1930s, Martin Heidegger began what would become a lifelong engagement with the work of Ernst Jünger. Part of Heidegger’s interest in Jünger was a result of Jünger’s Nietzsche-inspired cultural diagnosis; in Heidegger’s words, Jünger “makes all previous writings about Nietzsche inessential.” On the other hand, Heidegger was critical of what he deemed Jünger’s “bedazzlement” before the thought of Nietzsche. In this essay, I explore the sources of Heidegger’s interest and his criticism of Jünger’s work. To do this, I focus on elements of their correspondence, but mainly on Jünger’s essay “Über die Linie” of 1950 and Heidegger’s response, “Über ‘die Linie’” of 1955. In so doing, I hope to uncover their shared concern for the fate of Europe at the hands of a nihilism of which World War II was, to them, but an expression.