How To Punish A Province

Martin Heidegger, who died in 1976, was a well-known and influential German existential philosopher. While his works are studied today, his membership in the Nazi Party and ardent support for Hitler are a cause of embarrassment, to put it mildly. In an open letter dated 3 November 1933 to the students of the University of Freiburg, Professor Heidegger spoke of the recent seizure of power by Hitler.

Doctrines and ‘ideas’ shall no longer govern your existence. The Fuhrer himself, and only he, is the current and future reality of Germany and his word is your law.

This is hardly a recipe for examining one’s life and beliefs or discussing ideas in an open minded way; the type of thing one hopes occurs at a university. While looking up this quote from Heidegger I came across another quote, this one from Frederick the Great, which makes an amusing commentary:

If I wish to punish a province, I have it governed by philosophers.

(Source: Encyclopedia.com and Quotationsbook.com)

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website: http://charlesmccain.com/

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