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Stranger from Abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, Friendship and Forgiveness Hardcover – March 22, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A competent if pedestrian account of the relationship between two major figures of 20th-century philosophy that focuses on the influence of their friendship upon Arendt's intellectual development. Tracing their bond from when the young Arendt was Heidegger's student and subsequently his lover, Maier-Katkin, professor of criminology at Florida State University, offers an intellectual biography of the Jewish political philosopher whose preoccupations included pluralism, injustice, and the nature of evil, against the background of her lifelong connection with a thinker whose own history was marred by involvement with Nazism. The author is admirably evenhanded in his assessment of this dimension of Heidegger's life, but his sympathy clearly lies with Arendt, whose writings, in particular her prescient essays on Israel and her account of the Adolf Eichmann trial, he passionately defends. Overall, the book offers little insight into either of its subjects, relying too much on previous biographies and synopses of Arendt's major writings. The author's guiding insight, that Arendt's friendship with Heidegger exemplifies her notions of thoughtfulness and forgiveness, is compelling but regrettably underdeveloped. But at its best the book offers a fascinating snapshot of the divergent ways two towering intellects responded to the 20th century's darkest moments. (Feb.)
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From Booklist

*Starred Review* Richard Wolin argued in Heidegger’s Children (2001) 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. --Bryce Christensen

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; First Edition, 1st Printing edition (March 22, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393068331
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393068337
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,133,218 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 22, 2011
Format: Hardcover
In 1969, the philosopher Hannah Arendt gave a radio address called "Martin Heidegger is Eighty Years Old" in celebration of the thought of the great German thinker who had been Arendt's early inspiration as a student as well as her lover. In her address, Arendt described how Heidegger had changed the way students had viewed philosophy from a sterile, academic study to a matter for passionate engagement and thought. She said: "[w]e are so accustomed to the old oppositions of reason and passion, of mind and life, that the idea of passionate thinking, in which thinking and being alive become one, can be a bit startling."

Both Arendt (1906 -- 1975) and Heidegger (1889 -- 1976) brought passion to thought and to their difficult personal relationship. Daniel Maier-Katin's book, "Stranger from Abroad" (2010) brings passion to bear in its own right as it describes Arendt's relationship with Heidegger and its impact on her life and thought. The book has a sense of its two primary characters, their works, and their times that is rare in a work of philosophy. Maier-Katin, a professor of criminology and criminal justice at Florida State University has with this study made his own contribution to the life of the mind.

Maier-Katin integrates personal lives, philosophical thinking, and history in this book. When Arendt met Heidegger, she was an impressionable, naive young woman of 18 listening to the famous philosopher, age 35, lecture on Plato's "Sophist." Married to an anti-semitic woman, Elfride, who had recently had her own affair, and with two young children, Heidegger and Arendt became romantically involved almost immediately. Heidegger soon became somewhat cold, and Arendt left the University at Fribourg to pursue studies elsewhere vowing never to love a man again.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Marcia Novaes Assis on June 15, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I ordered this book without knowing it was a new book in the market. I read a biography of Hanna Arendt in portuguese, my language, and was a bit suspicious if this book would bring me something new and what a surprise! Not only two biographies for the price of one - Arendt and Heidegger are very well described as persons and thinkers in their time, together and apart, with their respectives works and thoughts - but a great lesson of philosophy! I could finally understand the origins of phenomenology within a historical context. Congratulations to the author that made a beautiful, poetic and intelligent book. I deeply recommend.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By C. Greek on April 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Dan Maier-Katkin's new book on the relationship between Hannah Arendt, whose life experience was altered fundamentally by what took place in Nazi Germany, and philosopher Martin Heidegger, who banally participated in the regime, very effectively combines biography, philosophy and cultural history into a hybrid form that makes for quite fascinating reading. As a graduate student at the New School for Social Research in the mid-1970s, one frequently talked to students who were in Hannah Arendt's classes. Though she passed away before I arrived there, I have found several of her works quite useful in teaching aspects of criminology ( particularly The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem). Maier-Katkin's book helps fill in many of the gaps in my understanding of Arendt's attitude toward life and learning. By combining the personal and the philosophical, without allowing either to become the dominant story, the author has created an highly readable account of how the two are fundamentally related. At the core of the book is the story of how the relationship between these two great thinkers survived one of the major cataclysms of the 20th century.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Christopher W. Coffman on May 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I'd recommend reading Robin Friedman's review as an excellent assessment of this book. My review has a different purpose: to address an issue related to both Arendt and Heidegger which Maier-Katkin addresses from several angles, very illuminatingly, but about which a bit more might be said.

Since the publication by Reinhard May's HEIDEGGER'S HIDDEN SOURCES, it has become generally known that Heidegger was deeply influenced by Daoist and Buddhist texts and thinkers, and that in fact Heidegger directly incorporated--without attribution--sections of THE BOOK OF TEA into BEING AND TIME. It also seems clear that much of what seemed new to his students and readers in the 20th century, including to Arendt herself, was in fact Heidegger's adroit integration of East Asian concepts into his own work, which itself was founded on Greek philosophy.

Arendt almost certainly didn't know this. Moreover, the influence of East Asian thought on Heidegger is not mentioned by Maier-Katkin. So why bring it up in this review?

The reason to do so is because Arendt's own thinking seems to have been influenced by the East Asian elements imported into German philosophy by Heidegger, but because she was not consciously aware of it, she seems to have been headed towards a dead-end in her thinking towards the end of her life.

Arendt, instructed by Heidegger and informed by her own research, depicted reality as a present that seems tranquil and motionless but is in fact continuously slipping at great speed from the future into the past. The present moment cannot be slowed, much less stopped, and it is very elusive.
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