Books: Mother of the Mind's Children

HANNAH ARENDT: FOR LOVE OF THE WORLD by Elisabeth Young-Bruehl Yale University; 563 pages; $25

Philosophy is concerned with two matters: soluble questions that are trivial, and crucial questions that are insoluble. Hannah Arendt always knew the difference; her critics sometimes did. In the disparity lay the tragedies and consolations of a career still sparking debate 19 years after the appearance of her most controversial book.

Rarely has a character been formed so early. In her vast, indulgent biography, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl records a note made by Frau Arendt in 1908, when Hannah was less...

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