Typed letter, signed by German-born, American Jewish philosopher Hans Jonas, loosely inserted in Henry David Aiken’s pamphlet “God and Evil: A Study of Some Relations Between Faith and Morals”. The Essay by Aiken is inscribed and signed by Aiken in a sarcastic manner: “To God, from one of his congregation – Shem”. In the letter, Jonas reflects on two pages on an evening with Henry David Aiken and his then wife Lillian Woodworth. In his letter to Aiken, Hans Jonas reports back to Aiken after reading his essay [″God and Evil”] and calls it “a beautiful piece of work – in style and content worthy of your “master” who wrote on natural theology….”. Jonas goes on encouraging Aiken: “you are also dead wrong n not publishing a collection of your essays in ethical theory. If your pal Quine can do it “from a logical point of you [sic]”, so can you “from a moral point of view”. Jonas also mentions “that it is worth writing about the ancient problem opf a theodicy in a contemporary context”. [The Essay is n Offprint from Ethics, An International Journal of Social, Political and Legal Philosophy, Volume LXVIII, No. 2].
New York / Washington, DC, 1958. 16,8 x 24 cm. 21 pages (pages 77-97 of the Journal) plus two page-letter (on one leaf), signed by Hans Jonas Original Offprint / Original TLS (Typed letter signed). Very good+ condition. Stapled. Only minimal signs of staining. The letter also discusses a Reference for one “Ed Sayles” and Jonas suggest that Aiken writes “casual but fairly strong” to Howard R. Bartlett, professor of history and head of the Department of Humanities at MIT.
Hans Jonas (10 May 1903 – 5 February 1993) was a German-born American Jewish philosopher, from 1955 to 1976 the Alvin Johnson Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City.
Jonas was born in Mönchengladbach, on 10 May 1903. He studied philosophy and theology at the University of Freiburg, the University of Berlin and the University of Heidelberg, and finally earned his Doctorate of Philosophy in 1928 from the University of Marburg with a thesis on Gnosticism entitled Der Begriff der Gnosis (The Concept of Gnosis) and directed by Martin Heidegger. During his study years his academic advisors included Edmund Husserl and Rudolf Bultmann. In Marburg he met Hannah Arendt, who was also pursuing her PhD there, and the two of them were to remain friends for the rest of their lives.
When Heidegger joined the Nazi Party in 1933, it may have disturbed Jonas, as he was Jewish and an active Zionist. In 1964 Jonas repudiated his mentor Heidegger for his affiliation with the Nazis.
He left Germany for England in 1933, and from England he moved to Palestine in 1934. There he met Lore Weiner, to whom he became betrothed. In 1940 he returned to Europe to join the British Army which had been arranging a special brigade for German Jews wanting to fight against Hitler (see The Jewish Brigade). He was sent to Italy, and in the last phase of the war moved into Germany. Thus, he kept his promise that he would return only as a soldier in the victorious army. In this time he wrote several letters to Lore about philosophy, in particular philosophy of biology, that would form the basis of his later publications on the subject. They finally married in 1943.
Immediately after the war he returned to Mönchengladbach to search for his mother but found that she had been sent to the gas chambers in the Auschwitz concentration camp. Having heard this, he refused to live in Germany again. He returned to Palestine and took part in the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. Jonas taught briefly at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before moving to North America. In 1950 he left for Canada, teaching at Carleton University. From there he moved in 1955 to New York City, where he was to live for the rest of his life. He was a fellow of the Hastings Center and Professor of Philosophy at New School for Social Research from 1955 to 1976 (where he was Alvin Johnson Professor). From 1982 to 1983 Jonas held the Eric Voegelin Visiting Professorship at the University of Munich. He died at his home in New Rochelle, New York, on 5 February 1993, aged 89.