Original Articles

‘To Know and not to do is not to Know’: Heidegger’s Rectoral Address

Published in: South African Journal of Philosophy
Volume 21, issue 1, 2002 , pages: 18–34
DOI: 10.4314/sajpem.v21i1.31333
Author(s): Andrea HurstPhilosophy Centre for Advanced Studies University of Port Elizabeth, South Africa


The present article is an analysis of Heidegger’s notorious Rectoral Address in terms of its attempt to bring together philosophy and politics in a way that would revitalise both. Through the repossession and reconfiguration of common words and concepts, Heidegger hoped to provide the intellectual impetus for a radical, invigorating cultural revolution in Germany. Given this apparently laudable aim, one is faced with the pressing question concerning the tension between his philosophical insight, on the one hand, and his inexplicable political blindness on the other. Hence the paper focuses, firstly, on the radical nature of Heidegger’s transformation of traditional conceptions of philosophy (science), and secondly, on his failure to separate the originality and significance of this philosophy from a catastrophic ideological attachment to the idea of German spiritual unity and destiny.

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