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Gatherings: The Heidegger Circle Annual

Volume 6, 2016

Bret W. Davis
Pages 130-156

Heidegger on the Way from Onto-Historical Ethnocentrism to East-West Dialogue

Heidegger often asserted that Germany, as “the land of poets and thinkers,” has a central world-historical role to play in any possible recovery from the technological nihilism of the modern epoch. And yet, on numerous occasions, Heidegger also demonstrated a serious interest in dialogue with the East Asian traditions of Daoism and Zen Buddhism. How are Heidegger’s entrenched ethnocentrism and his interest in East-West dialogue related? While neither can be wholly confined to one or another period in his thought, this article shows how, in the late 1930s, Heidegger begins to recover from the most ethnocentric period of his thought, and how he starts thinking of his reflections on the Western history of being as a preparation for what he came to call “the inevitable dialogue with the East Asian world.”

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