In Martin Heidegger Saved My Life, Grant Farred combines autobiography with philosophical rumination to offer this unusual meditation on American racism. In the fall of 2013 while raking leaves outside his home, Farred experienced a racist encounter: a white woman stopped to ask him, “Would you like another job?” Farred responded, “Only if you can match my Cornell faculty salary.” The moment, however, stuck with him. The black man had gravitated to, of all people, Martin Heidegger, specifically Heidegger’s pronouncement, “Only when man speaks, does he think—and not the other way around,” in order to unpack this encounter.
In this essay, Farred grapples with why it is that Heidegger—well known as a Nazi—resonates so deeply with him during this encounter instead of other, more predictable figures such as Malcolm X, W. E. B. DuBois, or Frantz Fanon.
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