Arendt Meets Heidegger: A short play

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Reply Sat 2 Dec, 2006 03:52 pm
20th century, Hannah Arendt, the political theorist (1906-1975), and Martin Heidegger (1889-1976), the philosopher, who met in 1924 at the University of Marburg, Germany. They both went on to write major contributions to 20th century thinking. Arendt is most famous perhaps for her Origins of Totalitarianism, and The Banality of Evil; Heidegger for his Being and Time, among other works.

"The Hat" investigates the possible dynamics of the first meeting between Arendt and Heidegger. It explores their chemistry - the spark that generated enough intellectual, sexual, psychological, emotional energy to last two life times.

Here is an excerpt from the play:

MARTIN (harshly) In Kantian terms, we can see the far-reaching implications of any choice -- a choice like --coming late. (Turning his back on her, he starts pacing up and down.) Now. Back to the mystery of existence. The oldest mystery on earth. Let's see some of the solutions to it. (He continues sorting his books. He stands on one side of the ladder, motioning HANNAH to hand certain books to him, then places them on the shelf while putting her on the spot mercilessly. She climbs higher and higher on the other side of the ladder as they talk.) How did Plato see it?
HANNAH (tentatively, handing over a book) The world is... but a copy . A copy of a perfect realm.
MARTIN And Pythagoras?
HANNAH Mathematical. For him, the world is mathematics.
MARTIN Descartes?
HANNAH Cogito ergo sum. The world is the result of our thinking.
HANNAH The world is the product of our mental structures.
MARTIN Nietzsche?
HANNAH Will to power. A game of chaos and power.
MARTIN Husserl?
HANNAH The world is a phenomenon of our existence.
MARTIN (softening) Phenomenal. (stepping down from the ladder, helping HANNAH down) And of course what they ALL forget... What they all forget to even consider is the fundamental mystery. (Beat.) The fundamental mystery... that something... exists. Rather than nothing. (Beat.) That the world IS. (As he scribbles 'Being' and 'being' on the blackboard) BEING is the primordial condition for beings to exist. (He turns off the light. Silent darkness except for the fire crackling, and the clock ticking.) Without light... we can't see. (He switches on the light.)
HANNAH Without light, we can't see. Without BEING, beings can't be.

Read the play for yourself here. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!

Logos Homepage here:

Here is a picture of Hannah:


And here is a young Heidegger:



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