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Heidegger in America [Hardcover]

Martin Woessner

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Book Description

Dec 20 2010 0521518377 978-0521518376
The German philosopher Martin Heidegger was one of the most influential and controversial thinkers of the twentieth century. Offering a novel account of Heidegger's place in the recent history of ideas, Heidegger in America explores the surprising legacy of his life and thought in the United States of America. As a critic of modern life, Heidegger often lamented the growing global influence of all things American. But it was precisely in America where his thought inspired the work of generations of thinkers - not only philosophers but also theologians, architects, novelists, and even pundits. As a result, the reception and dissemination of Heidegger's philosophical writings transformed the intellectual and cultural history of the United States at a time when American influence was itself transforming the world. A case study in the complex and sometimes contradictory process of transnational exchange, Heidegger in America recasts the scope and methods of contemporary intellectual and cultural history in the age of globalization, while challenging what we think we know about Heidegger and American ideas simultaneously.

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"Admire him or loathe him, Martin Heidegger remains one of the inescapable presences of modern intellectual history. But it has been hard to take an adequate measure of his ideas, particularly as they were received in the United States, given the many academic disciplines and fields of expression in which his influence has been felt and the diffuse forms and diverse intermediaries through which his insights passed. It is the great contribution of Martin Woessner's lively and engaging study to begin tracking down those lines of force, a task he accomplishes with intelligence and verve, bringing a critical eye, a broadly cultural sensibility, a crisp prose style, and a wry wit to bear on a subject that too often becomes mired in its own vatic solemnities. Readers in a wide variety of disciplines will derive both pleasure and instruction from this exemplary work of intellectual history."
- Wilfred M. McClay, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga and author of The Masterless: Self and Society in Modern America

"By showing who has made use of Martin Heidegger in the United States, Martin Woessner's book provides a striking and informative contribution to American and trans-Atlantic intellectual history. It is also a pathbreaking study of philosophical reception: an exemplary performance at a time when more and more historians are interested in how ideas travel. From a gallery of religious enthusiasts to the singular character of J. Glenn Gray, Woessner covers a host of forgotten figures. He gives philosophical readers from brilliant German exiles to Hubert Dreyfus and his followers their due. And he scrutinizes many genres, from the treatise Richard Rorty never wrote to architecture and film. Along the way, Woessner restores the freedom of selective interpretation, the insight of constructive appropriation, and the scandal of provincial misunderstanding to the story of how even the highest thought circulates."
- Samuel Moyn, Columbia University

"...Woessner has written an excellent book: one that is wide-ranging, well written, and informed by a vast knowledge of American culture. For American Heideggerians, it is essential reading. But even those not interested in Heidegger have much to learn from it.... Heidegger in America is an instructive and entertaining romp through twentieth century history of ideas..."
--Robert Piercey, Campion College, University of Regina, Philosophy in Review

"Heidegger in America surveys a vast terrain.... Woessner masterfully combines historical detail with a conceptual grasp of what his different contexts have in common.... Woessner gives us a valuable guide to the dynamics of Heidegger's diffusion.... the strength of his study is that its insights apply to other philosophers, in other places and times..."
--David Winters, Radical Philosophy

Book Description

Heidegger in America is a case study in the recent history of transnational intellectual and cultural exchange. Challenging traditional interpretations of both Heidegger and contemporary American intellectual history, it suggests that the reception and dissemination of Heidegger's philosophical writings transformed the intellectual culture of the United States at a time when American influence was itself transforming the world.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Fascinating Cultural History of Heidegger in America Jan. 31 2011
By George Cotkin - Published on Amazon.com
Written with great wit and deep learning, Woessner discovers Heidegger's presence in many nooks and crannies of American culture. You will find here the expected struggles of professional philosophers with Heidegger's thought, but also how Heidegger has resonated, for instance, in the films of Terrence Malick. You might call this a reception history but such a term seems too confining for what Woessner has managed to pull off. By understanding how Americans have struggled with and appropriated Heidegger, we also gather the various possibilities that this philosopher makes available. And we also glimpse, in the process, perhaps an American propensity to revision his work in ways that are sometimes exciting, sometimes problematic. This is a cultural history of philosophy that dances on the minds of its readers - stay with its beat!

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