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The Crisis of German Historicism
The Early Political Thought of Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss


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Part of Ideas in Context

  • Date Published: November 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107471511

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About the Authors
  • Hannah Arendt and Leo Strauss - two major political thinkers of the twentieth century, both of German-Jewish background and forced into exile in America - were never friends or intellectual interlocutors. Yet they shared a radical critique of contemporary idioms of politically oriented discourses and a lifelong effort to modify reflective approaches to political experience. Liisi Keedus reveals how Arendt's and Strauss's thinking about political modernity was the product of a common intellectual formation in Weimar Germany, by examining the cross-disciplinary debates guiding their early work. Through a historical reconstruction of their shared interrogative horizons - comprising questions regarding the possibility of an ethically engaged political philosophy after two world wars, the political fate of Jewry, the implications of modern conceptions of freedom, and the relation between theoria and praxis - Keedus unravels striking similarities, as well as genuine antagonisms, between the two thinkers.

    • Presents an interdisciplinary intellectual history of the European inter-war period, exploring how ideas emerge from life and experience
    • Draws on new historical sources to provide a historical reinterpretation of the ideas of two very influential twentieth-century philosophers
    • Seeks parallels and points of contact between two antagonistic 'schools' in political philosophy
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    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

    Reviews & endorsements

    'This insightful and well-researched book reads like a thriller. True to its title, the book covers the responses of Arendt and Strauss to the German historical school and to the historicized philosophy of the Weimar years. It also deals with the situation that Arendt and Strauss faced as Jews in Germany during those years. But the book is not limited to these topics nor is it limited to the early years of Arendt and Strauss … Highly recommended. General readers, upper-division undergraduate students, and above.' Choice

    'There is much from which one can learn in this book. Keedus has read broadly in the intellectual and political debates in Germany in the early twentieth century. Learning about the contemporary cultural impact of a Friedrich Gogarten or a Karl Barth is interesting in its own right, and the sense of cultural crisis associated with such thinkers is relevant to the political philosophies later articulated by Arendt and Strauss … Keedus's book offers the paradox of a historicist treatment of thinkers who (as her own argument highlights) rebelled against historicism.' Ronald Beiner, The Review of Politics

    'I believe the great merit of the book consists in broadening the scope of themes and authors to which and whom Strauss and Arendt have related and in introducing much new source material.' Wout Cornelissen, History of Political Thought

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107471511
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 150 x 230 x 10 mm
    • weight: 0.37kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The untimely generation
    2. The problem of politics in Arendt's and Strauss' early writings
    3. History and political understanding: an ambivalent symbiosis
    4. Liberalism and modernity: rethinking the question of the 'proud'
    5. Retrieving the problem of theoria and praxis: the antagonisms

  • Author

    Liisi Keedus, University of Helsinki
    Liisi Keedus is a research fellow at the Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights at the University of Helsinki. She is affiliated with Tallinn University and the Boccaccio Intellectual History Programme at the European University Institute, Florence.


    • A Choice Outstanding Academic Title 2015

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