Thinking as testing the limits of friendship: on the Voegelin-Schütz correspondence

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Szakolczai, Árpád
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Wagner Columbus Publishing Co Ltd.
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The exchange of letters between Eric Voegelin and Alfred Schütz took place in between 1938, or the year in which both were forced to leave Vienna due to the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, and 1959, when Schütz passed away. Several of the more important letters were published previously in various contexts, and the project of publishing them all goes back to the 1970s. The entire correspondence, in the original German, only appeared in 2004. This book is a comprehensive selection and English translation of that volume. The book provides fascinating insights into the lives, times, works, and ideas of two master thinkers – though mostly to those who are already reasonably familiar with them. While the editors rightly state in their Introduction (the English version is a slightly modified translation of the German text) that it was not the place for a comprehensive reassessment of the work in light of this correspondence (p.5), more background details for a volume like this would have been helpful. However, the size of the book, both in English (261 pp.) and especially in German (579 pp.), might explain the limited space left for the ‘Editor’s Introduction’ (5 pages of text, followed by 2 full pages of notes). The most interesting part of the correspondence, without any doubt, are the often quite long letters that touch upon the heart of the work of the two thinkers, sparked by Voegelin’s first comments on reading Husserl’s Crisis. As both of them considered the other a privileged interlocutor, the ideas expressed have particular significance for the thinking of each. The exchange of letters is revealing not only concerning the substance of their disagreement, but also the manner in which this was addressed and handled. Here a central issue is played by the question of friendship.
Eric Voegelin , Alfred Schütz , Correspondence , Friendship
Arpad Szakolczai (2013) 'Thinking as Testing the Limits of Friendship: On the Voegelin-Schütz correspondence'. VoegelinView.
© 2013, Arpad Szakolczai.