Philosophy and Social Criticism 46 (1):34-44 (2020)

Seyla Benhabib
Yale University
My new book, Exile, Statelessness, and Migration. Playing Chess With History From Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin, considers the intertwined lives and work of Jewish intellectuals as they make their escape from war-torn Europe into new countries. Although the group which I consider, including Hannah Arendt, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin, Judith Shklar, Albert Hirschman and Isaiah Berlin, have a unique profile as migrants because of their formidable education and intellectual capital, I argue that their lives are still exemplary for many of the dilemmas and risks faced by all migrants. In the reply to critics, I consider such issues as the intellectual relations between Benjamin, Adorno and Horkheimer; differences between Arendt’s and Adorno’s views of an interpretive social science; and why international law played such an important role in the imagination of Jewish intellectuals. A further question involves the generalizability of the experience of Jewish otherness in European culture. Liberal societies always designate some others as their constitutive exterior. How continuous is the experience of emigré Jewish intellectuals with the exclusion of ethnic and racial minorities in our societies? Finally, if the founding of the State of Israel has by no means resolved the problems of statelessness but re-created it for the Palestinian population, what kind of political stance should we assume vis-à-vis this reality today?
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DOI 10.1177/0191453719893556
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