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Stranger From Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness

Daniel Maier-Katkin.
Publisher Norton  
Format hardcover
Product Dimensions 8.5 x 5.75 x 1.2 inches
ISBN 9780393068337
Pages/Publication Date 384/2010
Daedalus Item Code 21043
This item is not available.
Shaking up the content and method by which generations of students had studied Western philosophy, Martin Heidegger sought to ennoble man's existence in relation to death. Yet in a time of crisis he became the most prominent German intellectual to join the Nazis. Hannah Arendt, his brilliant young student and lover, sought to enable a decent society of human beings in relation to one other, and worked to aid Jewish refugees during the war. Criminal justice professor Daniel Maier-Katkin offers this insightful and generous portrait of Heidegger and Arendt, exploring her choice to renew her friendship with the former Nazi and find lessons in his behavior that informed the formulation of her concept of the "banality of evil."

"The author is an advocate for both Heidegger and Arendt—though he is far harder on the former, calling the philosopher's actions 'shameful'—and he provides a lengthy defense of Arendt's most controversial work, Eichmann in Jerusalem, and its analysis of what she called 'the banality of evil,' a phrase that continues to foment fiery debate nearly a half-century later."—Kirkus Reviews

"Few relationships are more mysterious than that between Arendt and Heidegger. More interesting than their brief love affair when she was his young student is the attitude she took toward him in her maturity. Despite his Nazi affiliation, she refused to write him out of her life and out of intellectual history. This is a humane, judicious, and utterly absorbing account of Heidegger's role in Arendt's life and thought."—Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

"Richard Wolin argued in Heidegger's Children that when Jewish writer Hannah Arendt forgave her former professor—and lover—Martin Heidegger for supporting the Nazis, she succumbed to misgivings about her own Jewishness and to resurgent amorous passions. But after carefully investigating the Arendt-Heidegger friendship, Maier-Katkin reaches a different conclusion. In Arendt's eventual reconciliation with her grievously erring mentor, he sees the culmination of a career of bravely independent thinking. Personal correspondence reveals the depth and persistence of Arendt's emotional attachment to Heidegger. But in her emergence as a public intellectual, she advances perspectives far from Heidegger's, as evidenced in her landmark study The Origins of Totalitarianism, where she dissects the phenomenon that absorbed her former teacher. But Maier-Katkin also recognizes her intellectual autonomy in her critique of Jewish Zionism as a dangerously ethnocentric movement and in her controversial characterization of Nazi Adolf Eichmann's crimes as 'the banality of evil.' It is indeed in the Eichmann epiphany that Arendt finds the surprising motivation to reconsider her ruptured relationship with Heidegger and consequently to extend to him the kind of world-embracing love that makes new beginnings possible. Readers welcoming diverse perspectives will benefit from this inquiry into a relationship uniquely freighted with historical meaning."—Booklist (starred review)

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