Richard Polt is Professor of Philosophy at Xavier University. With Gregory Fried he has translated Heidegger’s Introduction to Metaphysics and Being and Truth, and edited A Companion to Heidegger’s “Introduction to Metaphysics” and Nature, History, State: 1933-1934.
Polt’s threefold interpretation of “thinking through” proves to be a useful catalyst not just for understanding Heidegger, but for understanding our roles as philosophers who exist in a world after Heidegger. His approach is deeply Heideggerian, in that it echoes the way early Heidegger thought through the problems
present in the history of philosophy, but it is also something new, in that it takes a daring step beyond Heidegger, into what Polt calls “traumatic ontology”.
For this reader, the value of Time and Trauma lies in the painstaking and judicious tracing of the 1930s Heidegger. Polt accomplishes an amazing balancing act, charitable and properly philosophical in understanding from within Heidegger’s own thought the connections to National Socialism, but not mincing words when it comes to Heidegger’s underhanded manipulations of language and ontology that, depending on the moment, provide support to National Socialism or excuse Heidegger for having provided that support.
Richard Polt’s book is so much more than another academic interpretation of Heidegger; it is an original work of thinking through the disintegrating fabric of our world. A masterful achievement by one of the leading Continental philosophers in the United States!— Michael Marder, Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of the Basque Country, SpainPolt’s reading of Heidegger is a meticulous, original, and admirably nuanced reconstruction and critique of Heidegger’s ill-fated engagement with the political. The question ‘who are we?’ leads Polt to a judicious recovery of the political and toward a ‘traumatic ontology’ that promises to transform the question of being from one of understanding to one of the ‘emergency of being’.— Reginald Lilly, Professor of Philosophy, Skidmore CollegeIn this ambitious and thought-provoking study, Polt undertakes a reassessment of the ethical and political dimensions of Heidegger's thought, with particular focus on the work of the 1930s. He not only presents a comprehensive and judicious account of Heidegger's problematic complicity with National Socialism, but seeks to retrieve an Arendtian-inspired understanding of action that would avoid the most problematic excesses of Heidegger's later thought, an understanding grounded in what he calls a "traumatic ontology". This book will be essential reading not only for those interested in Heidegger and the political, but for anyone attempting to understand what is at stake in the turn from his early fundamental ontology to the work of the 1930s and beyond.— William McNeill, Professor of Philosophy, DePaul University
Polt once defined philosophy as "asking questions beyond the point where questioning usually stops." This volume lives up to that ideal and then takes it a step further. Like Heidegger himself, Polt intentionally raises more questions than he answers -- which makes the book an invitation to question yet further and to think outside the parameters of received Heideggerian wisdom, including the impressive and laudable wisdom of this volume. Some readers will feel strongly drawn to the second and third chapters, which provide (1) a devastating critique of Heidegger's politics under Nazism, including brilliant summaries of six of his courses during the 1930s as well as an astute reading of his "Black Notebooks," and (2) a constructive Arendtian reading of the political, both in light of and against Heidegger.
Richard Polt’s new book, Time and Trauma, is an inspiring project that successfully gives course to three substantiated strategies of thinking through the problematic of the thirties and succeeds in euporia, in getting-through-well.
... this is a rich, engaging, and thoughtful book that will get us to rethink our relation to Heidegger and his legacy. There is much to learn from Polt’s incisive analysis of event, inception, and the trauma of temporal emergency. But more than this, Polt’s book provides a model for how to “do” Heidegger after the scandals and toxic revelations of the Black Notebooks. In doing so, it helps with the work of reconstruction and renewal that awaits all those who take up a new conversation with Heidegger.
Traditionally, texts that delve into the depths of Heidegger’s thinking tend to con-fine themselves to a very narrow readership. Of the several other texts published in this series of New Heidegger Research, most tend to be written by specialists for specialists. I do not mean to dismiss these books as being highbrow or inaccessible; rather, they serve a valuable purpose of providing clarity on issues which remain central to Heidegger scholars. Polt’s text, however, runs the gamut of being an introductory text, a specialist text, and a genuine contribution to contemporary philosophy… Despite the massive scope of this project, at no point does Polt’s account feel reductive, dismissive, or apologetic. This text explains Heidegger while not excusing him. It thinks through Heidegger to get beyond him. It teaches us that getting beyond always requires a through; an acknowledgment of the past and an appreciation for the silent call of the traumatic event.