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Walter Biemel is professor emeritus of philosophy at the State Academy of Art in Dusseldorf, Germany. Hans Saner is a freelance writer and was the personal assiistant to Karl Jaspers from 1961 to 1969. Gary E. Aylesworth is professor of philosophy and chair of the philosophy department at Eastern Illinois University.
Born in southern Germany, Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) taught philosophy at the University of Freiburg and the University of Marburg. His published works include: Kant and the Problem of Metaphysics (1929); An Introduction to Metaphysics (1935); Discourse on Thinking (1959); On the Way to Language (1959); Poetry, Language, Thought (1971). His best-known work is Being and Time (1927).
The history of 20th century German philosophy can be neatly summed up in three words: Husserl, Heidegger and Jaspers. They were the giants of the rich philosophical tradition and most of 20the century thought is influenced by them, either as followers who adapted their thought to other paths or as opponents, deriding what was seen as a preponderence of metaphysics over "clear thinking." The emphasis on Heidegger in recent years has expanded into an investigation of his personal life, intertwined as it was with the Nazi regime during the '30s. We have access to the Arendt-Jaspers correspondence, but only get to know Heidegger second-hand. That is why the release of the Heidegger-Jaspers correspondence is a tresure for every student of philosophy. Not only do we gain valuable insights into the workings of each author's conception of existentialism, but we also get to soak in the atmosphere of German university life, and its view of scholarship, so different from our own universities today, which now serve as little else than extensions of high school. The letters also give us the opportunity to see how the Heidegger-Japsers friendship fared over the years. (The letters are from 1920 to 1963.) During the '20s, the two are very close and share critiques of each others philosphy. During the '30s, with the rise of the Nazis, we see a cooling off due to the fact Heidegger sides with the Nazis and Jaspers, whose wife was Jewish,was appalled by what was happening to Germany. Very few letters are exchanged during the period from 1936 to 1948, when Heidegger, by now defanged by the Allied occupation, once again ventures into the public eye. The letters of this perios lack the warmth of the letters from the '20s, with Heidegger wishing to forget what happened in the '30s and Jaspers wanting an explanation. This is an unforgettable foray into the livers anf thought of two giants of twentieth century philosophy, and, as such, is a must for every philosophical library.