In This Review

Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse
Heidegger's Children: Hannah Arendt, Karl Lowith, Hans Jonas, and Herbert Marcuse
By Richard Wolin
Princeton University Press, 2002, 276 pp.

Wolin examines the personal and intellectual relations between the great philosopher of existentialism who was seduced by Nazism and several of his Jewish disciples. Heidegger never fully repudiated his political views (including his antisemitism), and his disciples remained highly critical of liberalism, capitalism, and democratic politics. Wolin's knowledge is broad and his philosophical analysis impressive, and yet one finishes this book with a sense that it falls between too many chairs. The philosopher himself is sidelined to the beginning and the end; the chapters on Lšwith and Jonas (who have generally gotten less attention from scholars than Arendt and Marcuse) are too sketchy here. The account of Marcuse's attempt to synthesize Heidegger and Marxism is perfunctory; the author's nontreatment of Marcuse's 1960s activism is regrettable; and Wolin is almost disparagingly critical of Arendt. Above all, the connections between the master's and the disciples' thoughts are not systematically examined. These shortcomings do not serve well such an important topic for intellectual historians and students of political thought.