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Three Women in Dark Times: Edith Stein, Hannah Arendt, Simone Weil Paperback – 9 Aug 2001

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Three women, all philosophers, all of Jewish descent provide a human face for a decade of crisis in this work. The years when the Nazis rose to power are seen through the lives of Edith Stein, a disciple of Husserl who died in Auschwitz in 1942; Hannah Arendt, pupil of Heidegger and Jaspers, who responded to Hitler by making a personal commitment to Zionism; and Simone Weil, a student of Alain. Following her subjects from 1933 to 1943, Sylvie Courtine-Denany recounts how these three philosophers endeavoured with profound moral commitment to address the issues confronting them. condemned to exile, they not only sought to understand a horrible reality, but also attempted to make peace with it. To do so, Edith Stein and Simone Weil encouraged a stoic acceptance of necessity while Hannah arendt argued for the capacity for renewal and the need to fight against the banality of evil. Courtine-Denamy also describes how as a student, each woman caught the eye of her famous male teacher, yet dared to criticize and go beyond him. She explores each one's sense of her femininity, her position on the "woman question" and her relation to her Jewishness. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Edith Stein was born in 1891 in Breslau, in the province of Silesia. Read the first page
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
disappointing story of three remarkable women 23 Sept. 2001
By Nancy K. Oconnor - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I am no philosopher, but have read the works of the three women who are the subjects of the book.
I was hoping to put the three lives into the context of the intellectual and social world they lived in, and how and why they made their individual decisions on philosophy, religion, and their approach to the questions posed by both Nazism and the feminist movement.
But little detail is given about the intellectual life. We are told the names of their mentors: but not any details of what these mentors taught (a major flaw for the non philosophy student who is not familiar with Heddiger etc.).
At the same time, except for some fine passages on Simone Weil, there is little detail on the inner lives of the women: we see only the outline of their parallel lives, often mixed together in a confusing manner. Arendt's affair with her professor, a subject recently treated in detail in a recent Atlantic magazine article, is given one sentence. Stein converts, with no more detail on her inner life than one could read in a blurb in the Catholic encyclopedia.
In summary, the author fails to provide details for the novice to understand the lives of these women, but does not go into sufficient depth for a philosophy student to learn anything new.
However, the passages on Simone Weil are an exception to my criticism. I did learn a lot about both her writings and why she thought and wrote her famous letters.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
A good intro to these ladies and their times 10 July 2002
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is not an easy book. It is a glance into the lives of 3 women, Hanna Arendt, Simone Weil, and Edith Stein, each of Jewish descent and, in particular, at the response each one made to Nazism. There is a review of each woman's life and her career. A lot of space is given to the education of these women, which is especially interesting since each studied under some of the biggest names in philosophy in the 20th century. It is not easy to follow, however, unless you have some basic knowledge of Heidegger, Jaspers, Alain, Husserl. But it is still interesting. Each of these women chose a different response (not just to nazism, but to the world, actually). Arendt became strongly Zionist, and an author of wonderful books; Simone Weil, strangely at odds with her heritage, but whose essays are marvels of clarity, chose a strange path of starvation (whatever the philosophical underpinnings, one wonders about anorexia); Edith Stein converted to Catholicism and became a Carmelite nun, devoting her life to prayer (though still writing). Each of these responses is fascinating in its own right. I highly recommend this difficult, but rewarding book.
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