‘Ecstasy, Catastrophe: Heidegger from Being and Time to the Black Notebooks’ by David Farrell Krell

Published by State University of New York Press in 2015.

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Lectures on ecstatic temporality and on Heidegger’s political legacy.

In Ecstasy, Catastrophe, David Farrell Krell provides insight into two areas of Heidegger’s thought: his analysis of ecstatic temporality in Being and Time (1927) and his “political” remarks in the recently published Black Notebooks (1931–1941). The first part of Krell’s book focuses on Heidegger’s interpretation of time, which Krell takes to be one of Heidegger’s greatest philosophical achievements. In addition to providing detailed commentary on ecstatic temporality, Krell considers Derrida’s analysis of ekstasis in his first seminar on Heidegger, taught in Paris in 1964–1965. Krell also relates ecstatic temporality to the work of other philosophers, including Aristotle, Augustine, Kant, Schelling, Hölderlin, and Merleau-Ponty; he then analyzes Dasein as infant and child, relating ecstatic temporality to the “mirror stage” theory of Jacques Lacan.

The second part of the book turns to Heidegger’s Black Notebooks, which have received a great deal of critical attention in the press and in philosophical circles. Notorious for their pejorative references to Jews and Jewish culture, the Notebooks exhibit a level of polemic throughout that Krell takes to be catastrophic in and for Heidegger’s thought. Heidegger’s legacy therefore seems to be split between the best and the worst of thinking—somewhere between ecstasy and catastrophe.

Based on the 2014 Brauer Lectures in German Studies at Brown University, the book communicates the fruits of Krell’s many years of work on Heidegger in an engaging and accessible style.


David Farrell Krell is Emeritus Professor of Philosophy at DePaul University and Brauer Distinguished Visiting Professor of German Studies at Brown University.

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