The Thracian Maid and the Professional Thinker

Arendt and Heidegger

By Jacques Taminiaux
Edited and translated by Michael Gendre

Subjects: Continental Philosophy
Series: SUNY series in Contemporary Continental Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791438626, 224 pages, December 1997
Hardcover : 9780791438619, 224 pages, January 1998

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Table of contents


Introduction. The History of an Irony

1. The Phenomenologists of Action and Plurality

2. Speculative Individuation and the Life of Somebody

3. From Aristotle to Bios Theoretikos and Tragic Theoria

4. The Paradox of Belonging and Withdrawal

5. The Kehre and the Conflict between Thinking and Willing

6. Enduring thaumazein and Lacking Judgment

Appendix. Time and the Inner Conflicts of the Mind


Argues that Hannah Arendt's two major philosophical works, The Human Condition and The Life of the Mind, reveal not a dependency upon Heidegger, but rather a constant and increasing ironic debate with him.


Appearing for the first time in English, this book by Jacques Taminiaux is a systematic investigation into Hannah Arendt's intellectual relationship to Heidegger, the implications of which are indispensable to understanding the philosophical choices of our times.

Beginning his investigation with Heidegger's 1924-25 lecture course on Plato's Sophist, wherein Heidegger originally formulated his fundamental ontology, Taminiaux focuses on the student Hannah Arendt's first encountering "a set of problems of immediate importance and urgency. " The author shows that Arendt's The Human Condition may be read both in its structure and in its themes—action, the world, the principle of individuation, the public realm—as a veritable retort and reply to Heidegger. Arendt is likened to the Maid from Thrace, a reference to Plato's Theaetetus wherein the Maid laughs at the philosopher who, while walking with his gaze to the stars above, falls into a well. But Arendt's critique of Heidegger cuts much deeper than this. While the political import of Arendt's work has long been recognized, Taminiaux's book systematically develops the philosophical framework which helps give shape to those political views. Thus one of the functions of The Life of the Mind, Taminiaux argues, is to reject the rigid division between the speculative thinker and the "common man", or the vita contemplativa and the vita activa.

Contrary to other recent studies on these two figures, Taminiaux claims "that Arendt's two major works. ..reveal at every page not at all a dependency upon Heidegger. ..but rather a constant, and increasingly ironic, debate with him. " In the process, Heidegger's philosophical work is interpreted in terms of its own political significance.

Jacques Taminiaux is Professor of Philosophy at Boston College and former Director of the Center for Phenomenological Studies at the University of Louvain-la-Neuve. He is the author of Heidegger and the Project of Fundamental Ontology and Poetics, Speculation, and Judgment: The Shadow of the Work of Art from Kant to Phenomenology, both published by SUNY Press. Michael Gendre is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Al Akhawayn University in Ifrane, Morocco.


"An outstanding contribution to a subtle understanding of the intellectual relationship between Heidegger and Arendt…This superb study is essential for anyone interested in Heidegger, Arendt, or the fate of twentieth century political thinking. " — Richard J. Bernstein, Vera List Professor of Philosophy and Chair, The New School for Social Research