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Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind


I am co-editing the critical edition of Hannah Arendt’s last work, The Life of the Mind, with Wout Cornelissen. The Kritische Gesamtausgabe (Complete Critical Edition) will be published in the coming years by the Wallstein Verlag under the general editorship of Barbara Hahn, Ingeborg Nordmann and Thomas Wild. The edition will be bilingual, with works and notebooks appearing in the language in which Arendt wrote them, and will appear both in paper and in an online digital edition. The Life of the Mind will appear in 2019.

The Life of the Mind was published posthumously and our preliminary analysis indicates that there are substantial discrepancies—both in style and substance—between the manuscript versions of the work that Arendt left behind and the published version that Mary McCarthy oversaw. The original material has been virtually unavailable to scholars, preserved in a variety of documents in an archive that is difficult to access, and the extent and import of McCarthy’s changes have been largely passed over in ignorance or disregarded. As a result, one can say that Hannah Arendt’s The Life of the Mind has not yet been published or read.The critical edition aims to reproduce as closely as possible the work as Arendt left it, and to make available for the first time variations and omissions from the McCarthy edition.

Work has begun on transcribing Arendt’s manuscripts and Cornelissen and I are currently determining which manuscripts will be used to establish the reference text for the critical edition and which supplementary material will be published in the paper edition.

On 19 October 2016 Jerome Kohn gave the inaugural lecture, “The Work of Art,” in the Hannah Arendt Edition Lecture Series at Bard College, to which I was respondent. We are currently preparing his text and my response for submission to Salmagundi.