Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 13, 2013

On the Proper Use of Phenomenology: Paul Ricoeur Centenary

Vincent Blok
Pages 449-465

“Massive Voluntarism” or Heidegger’s Confrontation with the Will

One of the controversial issues in the development of Heidegger’s thought is the problem of the will. The communis opinio is that Heidegger embraced the concept of the will in a non-critical manner at the beginning of the thirties and , in particular, he employed it in his political speeches of 1933–1934. Jacques Derrida for instance speaks about a “massive voluntarism” in relation to Heidegger’s thought in this period. Also Brett Davis discerns a period of “existential voluntarism” in 1930–1934, in which Heidegger takes over a notion of the will in a non-critical manner. In this article, this interpretation is challenged and a stronger interpretation of Heidegger’s concern with the will is developed. Our hypothesis is that Heidegger’s concern with the will at the onset of the thirties is brought about by his confrontation (Auseinandersetzung) with the concept of the will. Based on his lecture courses from 1930 and 1936/37 and his Rectoral Address from 1933, enables us to discern three main characteristics of Heidegger’s destructed concept of the will in the early thirties.