The opera lover and the hedgehogmain
In this weekend’s Wall Street Journal I write about the relationship between two philosophers, Hannah Arendt and Isaiah Berlin.
It was hate at first sight. And then it got worse.
Here’s the intro:
In the halcyon age before Covid, I caught a flight to a small town in Germany to see an opera about love between two philosophers. The love was not in the least bit Platonic. Hannah Arendt was 18 years old, fatherless, a virgin. Martin Heidegger was in his mid-30s, married with two sons, a leader in his field. In modern terms, the liaison was a classic #MeToo scenario, an abuse of trust and duty.
In real life, Arendt was in denial, and Heidegger drew a line between life and mind. He would tell his students: “Aristotle was born, worked and died, now let’s turn to his ideas.” Ella Milch- Sheriff’s opera, “The Banality of Love,” projected something of his view that an individual human being is uninteresting. But in this case and many others, the ideas are shaped by the all-too-human flaws of the lives that conceived them—the two sides are inseparable. It is surely time to reassess Arendt, a major philosopher of totalitarianism, in light of her formative philosophical influence, a brilliant chameleon who would transform himself into an intellectual apologist for Nazism.
Now read on here.