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Law under Lawlessness: Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, and the Committee for the Philosophy of Law

Wednesday, March 20, 2024 4:15pm to 6pm

3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

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The Committee for the Philosophy of Law (Auschuss für Rechtsphilosophie) was a prestigious grouping of academics and Nazi party higher-ups whose express goal was the “total transformation of German legal life in accordance with the principles of National Socialism.” Under the auspices of Hans Frank’s Academy of German Law, its inaugural meeting took place on 3 May 1934 at the Nietzsche Archive in Weimar. Among the Committee’s 16 original members were Martin Heidegger, Carl Schmitt, Alfred Rosenberg, and Frank himself, who chaired of the Committee.

Although the Committee for the Philosophy of Law was officially dissolved in 1938 and much of its work remains shrouded in mystery, a document recently unearthed at the German Federal Archive in Berlin indicates that it may have continued to meet as late as 1941. Though the documentation related to the Committee’s activities remains sparse, the materials that have survived offer unique insight concerning the commitment of leading German thinkers, such as Heidegger and Schmitt, to the project of Volkwerdung: turning everyday “Germans into Nazis” with an eye toward achieving a racially unified Volksgemeinschaft.

Speaker: Richard Wolin

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