Between Two Minds — Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt,
Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness
by Daniel Maier-Katkin


From the Publisher:

“…how could Arendt have renewed her friendship with Heidegger? And how has this relationship affected her reputation as a cultural critic? In Stranger from Abroad, Daniel Maier-Katkin offers a compassionate portrait that provides much-needed insight into this relationship.

Maier-Katkin creates a detailed and riveting portrait of Arendt’s rich intellectual and emotional life, shedding light on the unique bond she shared with her second husband, Heinrich Blücher, and on her friendships with Mary McCarthy, W. H. Auden, Karl Jaspers, and Randall Jarrell — all fascinating figures in their own right. An elegant, accessible introduction to Arendt’s life and work, Stranger from Abroad makes a powerful and hopeful case for the lasting relevance of Arendt’s thought.”

Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) and Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) were considered two of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century. Heidegger, author of Being and Time (1928), was the dominant philosopher of the era until his identification with Nazism and support of Hitler during the 1930s. While he retained his position at the University of Frieburg until his death, his reputation never fully recovered from his support of fascism and the Third Reich — in spite of his subsequent explanations. Arendt was a German political theorist who was interested in all aspects of power, and, in particular, in totalitarianism and authoritarianism. As a Jew — though not religious — Arendt fled Europe in 1941 and arrived in the United States; she became an American citizen in 1950. Arendt taught at the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, and the New School of Social Research in New York. Among her numerous works were The Origins of Totalitarianism (1955) and Eichman in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963). Arendt was Heidegger’s student and lover when she attended the University of Marburg during the 1920s; while Arendt married twice, she maintained contact with Heidegger and later advanced a sympathetic explanation for his support of the Nazis. Heidegger was married and conducted at least one other affair in addition to that with Arendt; Heidegger’s principal love in his life was himself — everyone else, including Arendt, played supporting roles.

During the past year interest in Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger has been rekindled through the publication of two important and worthy books and a significant seminar at the University of Virginia on April 1, 2010. The seminar on “Reading Hannah Arendt for the 21st Century” included presentations on “The Promise of Hannah Arendt’s Politics,” by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, “Immanence, Plurality, and Politics,” by Richard Bernstein, and “Reflections on Ruin,” by Susannah Gottlieb; these papers suggest that additional major works on Arendt are in the offing. Michael B. Smith’s excellent translation of Emmanuel Faye’s acclaimed and controversial Heidegger: The Introduction of Nazism Into Philosophy in Light of the Unpublished Seminars of 1933-1935 was published in 2009; it was a ringing denunciation of Arendt’s 1969 explanation that Heidegger’s involvement with Nazism was an aberration, it was inconsistent with his thinking and occurred because Heidegger had departed temporarily from philosophy and focused on public affairs. Faye has no sympathy for Arendt’s romantic and baseless explanation for Heidegger’s conduct and sympathy for Nazism.


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