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  • Print publication year: 2010
  • Online publication date: February 2011

4 - An Officer and a Philosopher


What to make of Heidegger as a thinker is a baffling question, perhaps especially to those who have little use for his character.

J. Glenn Gray

If the American philosopher Jesse Glenn Gray is remembered at all today, it is for his 1959 book The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle. Gray wrote The Warriors in order to heal, as he put it in the foreword to the 1970 reprint of the work, “the intellectual wounds of World War II.” They were, by all accounts, deep wounds. The war was a formative moment in Gray's life. He had served the duration of it as a counterintelligence officer before returning to the United States to pursue a career in philosophy. He spent time in Italy, North Africa, France, and eventually Germany, where he stayed on after the war as part of the reconstruction effort. Gray kept detailed notebooks during these years, and when he finally sat down to write The Warriors, he used these to help ground his phenomenological examination of modern warfare in the most concrete terms possible. Only by remaining true to the realities of total war could he begin to heal the wounds of war, wounds reopened, in the late 1960s at least, by evening news reports from Southeast Asia.

Although writing The Warriors may have been therapeutic for Gray, it was not immediately apparent that the book would enjoy much of a public reception.

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Gray, J. Glenn, The Warriors: Reflections on Men in Battle (1959; Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1998)
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Gray, J. Glenn, Hegel's Hellenic Ideal (New York: King's Crown Press, 1941)
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Safranski, Rüdiger, Martin Heidegger: Between Good and Evil, translated by Ewald Osers (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1998), 332–352
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Jaspers, Karl, “Letter to the Freiburg University Denazification Committee (November 22, 1945),” translated by Richard Wolin, in Wolin, ed., The Heidegger Controversy: A Critical Reader (1991; Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1993), 149
Gray, J. Glenn, “The Idea of Death in Modern Existentialism,” The Journal of Philosophy Volume XLVIII Number 5 (March 1, 1951): 113–127
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Gray, J. Glenn, “Heidegger's Course: From Human Existence to Nature,” The Journal of Philosophy Volume LIV Number 8 (April 11, 1957), 197
Heidegger, Martin, “The Question Concerning Technology,” in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays, translated by William Lovitt (New York: Harper Torchbooks, 1977), 3–35
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