When Hans Jonas died in 1993 at the age of 89, he was revered among American scholars specializing in European philosophy, but his thought had not yet made great inroads among a wider public. In Germany, conversely, during the 1980s, when Jonas himself was an octogenarian, he became a veritable intellectual celebrity, owing to the runaway success of his 1979 book, The Imperative of Responsibility, a dense philosophical work that sold 200,000 copies. An extraordinarily timely work today, The Imperative of Responsibility focuses on the ever-widening gap between humankind’s enormous technological capacities and its diminished moral sensibilities. The book became something of a cultural shibboleth; he himself became a celebrated public intellectual. For Jonas, this development must have been enormously gratifying. In the 1920s, Jonas studied philosophy with Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger at the universities in Marburg and Freiburg, but the Nazi regime’s early attempts at Aryanizing the universities forced Jonas to leave Germany for London in 1933. He emigrated to Palestine in 1935 and eventually enlisted in the British Army’s Jewish Brigade to fight against Hitlerism. Following the Israeli War of Independence (in which he also fought), he emigrated to the United States and took a position in 1955 at the New School for Social Research in New York. He became part of a circle of friends around Hannah Arendt and Heinrich Blucher, which included Adolph Lowe and Paul Tillich. Because Jonas’s life spanned the entire twentieth century, this memoir provides nuanced pictures of German Jewry during the Weimar Republic, of German Zionism, of the Jewish emigrants in Palestine during the 1930s and 1940s, and of German Jewish émigré intellectuals in New York. In addition, Jonas outlines the development of his work, beginning with his studies under Husserl and Heidegger and extending through his later metaphysical speculations about “God after Auschwitz.” This memoir, a collection of heterogeneous unpublished materialsdiaries, memoirs, letters, interviews, and public statementshas been shaped and organized by Christian Wiese, whose afterword links the Jewish dimensions of Jonas’s biography and philosophy.
|Publisher:||Brandeis University Press|
|Series:||Tauber Institute Series for the Study of European Jewry Series|
|Edition description:||Trans. from the German|
|Product dimensions:||6.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)|
About the Author
JOHN BUSH JONES is the author of Our Musicals, Ourselves: A Social History of the American Musical Theater (Brandeis, 2003) and The Songs That Fought the War (Brandeis, 2006).
Table of Contents
Foreword – Rachel Salamander • Introductory Remarks – Lore Jonas • EXPERIENCES AND ENCOUNTERS • Youth in Mönchengladbach during Wartime • Dreams of Glory: The Road to Zionism • Between Philosophy and Zion: Freiburg – Berlin – Wolfenbüttel • Marburg: Under the Spell of Heidegger and Gnosticism • Emigration, Refuge, and Friends in Jerusalem • Love in Times of War • A “Bellum Judaicum” in the Truest Sense of the Word • Travels through a Germany in Ruins • From Israel to the New World: Launching an Academic Career • Friendships and Encounters in New York • PHILOSOPHY AND HISTORY • Taking Leave of Heidegger • On the Value and Dignity of Life: Philosophy of the Organic and Ethics of Responsibility • “All this is mere stammering”: Auschwitz and God’s Impotence • Didactic Letters to Lore Jonas, 1944–45, – Ammon Allred, translator • Afterword: “But for me the world was never a hostile place” – Christian Wiese • Chronology • Notes • Bibliography • Index of Names • Illustrations follow page 134