Philosophers at the Front

Phenomenology and the First World War

Edited by Nicolas de Warren and Thomas Vongehr

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Edited volume - hardback

An exceptional collection of letters, postcards, original writings, and photographs

The First World War witnessed an unprecedented mobilization of philosophers and their families: as soldiers at the front; as public figures on the home front; as nurses in field hospitals; as mothers and wives; as sons and fathers. In Germany, the war irrupted in the midst of the rapid growth of Edmund Husserl's phenomenological movement – widely considered one of the most significant philosophical movements in twentieth century thought. Philosophers at the Front offers a documentary history of phenomenology in the First World War. Through an exceptional collection of primary source materials (letters, postcards, original writings, photographs) from the Husserl Archives in Leuven, the Bayerische Staatsbibliothek, and the Archives of the University of Göttingen, the complex narratives of how the war affected the lives and thought of central figures in the phenomenological movement are charted. Key figures such as Edmund Husserl, his sons Wolfgang and Gerhart, Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Adolf Reinach, Martin Heidegger, and others are included in this collection of materials.

The volume includes reproductions of original material, as well as German transcription of all texts and their English translation.

Philosophers at the Front

Chronology of Significant Dates

The Husserl Family

Edmund Husserl (1859-1938)
Malvine Husserl (1860-1950)
The Husserls in Time of War
Elisabeth („Elli“) Husserl (1892-1981)
Gerhart Husserl (1893-1973)
Wolfgang Husserl (1895-1916)
Documents from the War
Letters of Condolence

Philosophers in War

The “Göttingen Philosophical Society”
Winthrop P. Bell (1884-1965)
Hedwig Conrad-Martius (1888-1966)
Theodor Conrad (1881-1969)
Johannes Daubert (1877-1947)
Moritz Geiger (1880-1937)
Erich von Gündell (1854-1924)
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976)
Gustav Hübener (1889-1941)
Fritz Kaufmann (1891-1958)
Kurt Lewin (1890-1947)
Hans Lipps (1889-1941)
Karl Löwith (1897-1973)
Dietrich Mahnke (1884-1939)
Arnold Metzger (1892-1974)
Friedrich Neumann (1889-1978)
Max Scheler (1874-1928)
Edith Stein (1891-1942)

The Fallen Ones

Rudolf Clemens (1890-1914)
Waldemar Conrad (1878-1915)
Fritz Frankfurther (1889-1914)
Emil Lask (1875-1915)
Adolf Reinach (1883-1917)
Heinrich Rickert jr. (1891-1917)
Hermann Ritzel (1880-1915)

Select Bibliography
List of Sources
Index of Names

Format: Edited volume - hardback

Size: 220 × 245 × 25 mm

286 pages

black & white

ISBN: 9789462701212

Publication: April 25, 2018

Languages: English

Stock item number: 121995

Nicolas de Warren is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Pennsylvania State University and Guest Professor of Philosophy at KU Leuven.
Thomas Vongehr studied philosophy in Munich and obtained his PhD from Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität Munich in 1995. Since 2002, he is assistant at the Husserl Archives at KU Leuven.
The present volume consists of an impressive and captivating selection of documents pertaining to the phenomenologists’ intellectual and personal involvements in the Great War, with a special focus on Edmund Husserl and his family (pp. 15–115), as well as on phenomenologists killed on the battlefields (pp. 231–275). It also takes into account figures not customarily associated with phenomenology (e.g., Emil Lask, Kurt Lewin). […] Thereby the volume not only paints a balanced and comprehensive historical picture for the general public and scholarly audiences, but it also contains several gems even for specialists deeply entrenched in the historiography of phenomenology. […] The collection by De Warren and Vongehr is so compelling and illuminating that the book makes one want more of it […]In any case, de Warren’s and Vongehr’s exemplary achievement of documenting phenomenology’s involvement in the Great War not only constitutes a valuable collection of historical sources but is also thought-provoking.
Varga, P.A. Husserl Stud (2019).
Der Band ist ein opulentes Lesebuch, das zum Weiterlesen und Forschen anstiftet und einen guten Einblick in die Lebens‑ und Gedankenwelt der akademischen Kriegsteilnehmer und ihrer Lehrer gibt.
Peter Hoeres, Militärgeschichtliche Zeitschrift, 78/2 (2019): 521–523,

This is a remarkable book. The curatorial and editorial strategy deployed does not seek to fuse these materials into some overarching narrative or explanation, but lets them speak for themselves, without any undue expectation that what they say will make complete sense. The book instead collects the fragmentary, archival remains of a group of individuals grappling with the impact of a disaster that took years to unfold, and in which much remained misunderstood, unspoken, and undecided, both during and after. Anyone seeking to better understand the philosophical legacy of classical phenomenology in light of the historical context of the First World War will find in this volume an invaluable resource.
James Dodd, Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, 2019.04.26

In dit prachtig vormgegeven boek zijn unieke documenten verzameld die het leven van Edmund Husserl en zijn familie, vrienden en studenten weergeven ten tijde van de Eerste Wereldoorlog. In het boek wordt duidelijk hoeveel impact deze oorlog had op het leven van Husserl en zijn omgeving en hoeveel jonge mensen sneuvelden in de strijd. [...] Het boek is een bundeling van brieven, briefkaarten en manuscripten die op unieke wijze inzicht geven in de enorme impact die de oorlog had op het academische leven en het persoonlijke leven van Husserl en zijn omgeving."
Martine Berenpas, Tijdschrift voor Filosofie, 80/2018, doi: 10.2143/TVF.80.3.3285689

Het fraai uitgegeven en rijkelijk geïllustreerde boek leest als een 'who’s who' van de fenomenologie, want het bevat brieven, postkaarten en manuscripten van de hand van onder meer Edmund Husserl en zijn familieleden, Martin Heidegger, Max Scheler, Edith Stein, Fritz Kaufmann, Karl Löwith en Arnold Metzger. Het gaat als het ware om rechtstreekse verslaggeving uit de loopgraven en de hospitalen, en van bij de achterblijvers thuis. De Warren en Vongehr presenteren hun materiaal zonder veel uitleg en context. [...] De aanpak van De Warren en Vongehr heeft ook zijn voordelen. Door niet op zoek te gaan naar het grote verhaal, maar te presenteren wat de betrokkenen dachten en schreven op het moment zelf, krijg je als het ware een barometer in handen waarmee je de stemming onder de fenomenologen (en de intelligentsia in het algemeen) op een welbepaald ogenblik kunt peilen.
Toon Horsten, Knack nr 32, 8 augustus 2018