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The Biopolitics of Souls: Racism, Nazism, and Plato

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This essay focuses on the relationship between biopolitics and race theory. Starting from Foucault, many authors have considered totalitarian anti-Semitism as a depravity of biologism. This essay would like to challenge this alltoo-simple positivist, materialist, and evolutionist picture of biopolitics in the Third Reich. It examines another “tradition” of racial theories, central to National Socialism, much closer to the revered Western philosophical tradition than Darwinism ever was. This kind of racism presents itself as the authentic heir of that “Metaphysics of Form,” which traces its roots back to classical antiquity, in particular to Plato's work. Through the analysis of some Platonist and racist texts the essay tries to point out the ambivalences that connect some of the assumptions of our philosophical tradition to Nazi totalitarianism.

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... Popper and Patočka allow biopolitical research not only to ascertain the biopolitical meaning of Platonic thought itself, but also to understand how and why twentiethcentury biopower has used and abused Plato to legitimize itself. In other words, Popper's and Patočka's interpretations of Plato are also to be considered part of their personal and philosophical struggles against the most conspicuous forms of twentiethcentury biopower, which sought to secure ideological and cultural legitimation by appropriating the Platonic dialogues (see, e.g., Forti 2006;Chapoutot 2016;Bonazzi 2020). In this regard, the contrast between Popper's Plato and Patočka's Plato is striking and intriguing: a Popperian approach views Plato as a prominent intellectual source of biopolitical totalitarianism, whereas a Patočkian interpretation sees Plato as a seminal author who enables us to understand modern Europe's crisis and perhaps to envision a possible way out of the biopolitical deadlock. ...
... However, we should also try to understand and contextualize The Open Society and Its Enemies by taking into account the intellectual and political agenda behind Popper's attack on Plato. Popper's anti-Platonism should not come as a surprise if we consider that Plato was also used by various Nazi propagandists for ideological purposes (see Forti 2006;Chapoutot 2016;Kim 2018;Bonazzi 2020). More importantly, Popper's attack on Plato results not only from his political tenets but also from his epistemology. ...
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The aim of this article is to demonstrate that even if Popper’s and Patočka’s interpretations of Plato originate in philosophical and intellectual traditions that have nothing or very little to do with each other, they share a common target, that is, modern biopower, which culminated in twentieth-century totalitarianism. If we examine Popper’s and Patočka’s interpretations of Plato from a biopolitical angle, it is possible to view them in a new light, that is, as two different, even opposing, intellectual and philosophical approaches to the very same tragic events that European culture and politics experienced in the twentieth century. Despite the radically divergent results of their readings, Popper and Patočka share a starting point, that is, the effort to outline a genealogy of European cultural and intellectual history in the light of Plato. The first section of this article explains why and to what extent Popper’s and Patočka’s interpretations can be considered genealogical readings. The second section elaborates on their different approaches to the relationship between justice and power in Plato. The third section concentrates on the relationship between Plato and twentieth-century biopower.
... Okuma kültürü gibi Nazizm ideolojisi üzerine de çok sayıda akademik çalışma gerçekleştirilmiştir (Kirchheimer, 1941;Dülffer, 1976;Mason, 1977;Taylor, 1981;Wagner, 1981;Farias, 1989;Paskow, 1991;Herf, 1993;Dunlop, 1996;Rockmore, 1997;Young, 1998;Herkommer, 2008;Geyer ve Fitzpatrick, 2009;Kuhl, 2002;Eley, 2013;Patel ve Reichardt, 2016;Zakić, 2017). Bu çalışmalarda da: Collingwood (1940), Hansen (1981), Nazizm ve Faşizm'i; Loomis ve Beegle (1946), Nazizm'in kırsal alanlarda yayılmasını; Sternhell (1973), Frosh (2015), antisemitizm ve Nazizm'i; Stein (1988), Nazizm'in köklerini; Fischer (1991), Harsch (1993), Hamilton (2003), Campbell (2004), Häberlen (2013), Falter (2014), Nazizm'in yükselişini; Berman (1992), Herman (2001), Yahudiler ve Nazizm'i; Weindling (1993), ulusal birleşme ve Nazizm arasında sağlık, ırk ve Alman siyasetini; Davidson (1997), Nazizm'in doğuşu ve yükselişini; Ian (1997), Stalinizm ve Nazizm'i; Geary (2002), Hitler ve Nazizm'i; Kirk (2002), Nazizm ve işçi sınıfını; Mühlberger (2003), Nazizm'in sosyal temellerini; Stone (2003), İngiltere'deki Nazizm'e tepkileri; Forti (2006), ırkçılık ve Nazizm'i; Stuart (2006), sosyalizm, milliyetçilik ve Nazizm'i; Neumann (2009), Nazizm'in yapısı ve pratiğini; Giles (2014), Nazizm ve öğrencileri incelemiştir. ...
... On the importance of biopolitics as the central avenue to the interpretation of totalitarianism, see now (Forti, 2003) and (Forti, 2006). For an attempt to read Arendt's political theory as a response to biopolitics, see now (Duarte 2004). ...
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This essay discusses the genesis of Arendt's concept of natality, and the reasons that led her to claim natality as a fundamental concept of political thought. The essay argues against the widespread thesis that Arendt took her idea of natality from Heidegger's existential analysis of human life. It argues, instead, that Arendt's account of natality should be situated within the discourse of bio-politics, and that it is based on a conception of life that is anti-Heideggerian. Arendt's political thought is a species of bio-politics that counters totalitarianism on its own terrain, namely, by identifying what in life poses a resistance to the totalitarian project of attaining total domination over life.
... Thai Buddhist nationalism also could be considered as sharing with the Nazi version of Plato (refer to Forti 2006) a spiritual concern with ontological purity: to separate the mental and morally healthy from the unworthy-whose 'base' existence is that of being attached to and consumed by animal needs and insatiable passions. 73 The work of Forti challenges conventional thought about the Nazi racist state and demonstrates the idealist (Platonic) and spiritual (rather than biological or scientific) nature of racialist thinking and 'biopolitics' under the Third Reich. Race as a state doctrine organizes life into a "hierarchical manner and differentiates, to include and exclude beings from the human field, making death of one a necessity for the life of all." ...
... En primer lugar, una lectura atenta del seminario de Germania demuestra que Heidegger en ningún momento está asimilando el concepto de Patria (Heimat) con los dogmas raciales o genéticos de la Alemania nazi ni con su justificación filosófica (Forti, 2006). Merece la pena rastrear algunos indicios que soporten esta hipótesis. ...
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Nuestro trabajo parte del seminario sobre el poema Germania de Hölderlin que Heidegger impartió en 1934. Siguiendo su estructura, nos preguntaremos por la acotación de lo poético y sus posibles aplicaciones a la filosofía del arte audiovisual. Para ello, depuraremos aquellos aspectos del texto que ofrecen mayores dificultades interpretativas (Heimat, Ursprache, Gemeinschaft…) y posteriormente analizaremos las fortalezas y las dificultades de la aplicación de estos conceptos al cine. Encontraremos el mayor problema en el concepto de lengua originaria y concluiremos ofreciendo una sugerencia sobre el posible futuro del análisis textual audiovisual heideggeriano.Our work is based on the seminar about the Hölderlin´s Germania that Heidegger taught on 1934. Following his structure, we will look for the limits of the poetical idea and his posible applications onto the audiovisual aesthetic. For that, we will bowdlerize those aspects of the text which offer the biggest interpretative issues (Heimat, Ursprache, Gemeinschaft…), and after that, we will analyze the strenghts and difficulties on the application of this concepts to the cinema. We will find our main problema in the original lenguaje issue and we will conclude offering a suggestion about the posible future of the heideggerean textual-audiovisual anaylisis.
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