The controversial issue of Martin Heidegger’s Nazism has posed hermeneutic challenges since well before the philosopher’s death. This essay approaches the political-philosophical conflict of Heidegger’s early work not through consideration of explicitly problematic statements and writings but through comparison of the structural framework of Being and Time (1927) with Thomas Mann’s roughly contemporaneous theoretical accomplishment in The Magic Mountain (1924). Specifically, the essay argues for a deep affinity between the two texts’ constellations of language, temporality, and death. By demonstrating the extensively documented ties between the novel’s philosophical framework and Mann’s politics, the essay claims that any understanding of Heidegger’s work must be contextualized alongside its concrete political valences in shifting ideological paradigms of the early Weimar Republic. This analysis suggests a new mode of ethical critique of Heidegger’s magnum opus that focuses more on the text’s greater theoretical edifice than on the problematization of localized passages.

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