An Unknown Constellation: Hannah Arendt Reads Étienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain

Feb 2, 2024
Social Sciences, Tea Room
1126 E 59th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Thomas MeyerLudwig Maximilian University

This event is free and open to the public. For more information, contact A wine and cheese reception will follow. The location is tbd.

This event is cosponsored by the University of Chicago Committee on Social Thought.

German philosopher and former UChicago professor, Hannah Arendt stands as one of the most influential 20th century theorists of totalitarianism and political ideology. The sources for her unique insights remain obscure, as she rarely revealed her influences outside of Martin Heidegger and Karl Jaspers. Thomas Meyer has discovered in unpublished archives and letters Arendt’s deep interest in two mid-century French Catholic thinkers: Etienne Gilson and Jacques Maritain. She explored their works during the “Third Reich,” taking a special interest in Gilson’s philosophy of history and Maritain’s analysis of the state. Arendt valued their consistent way of thinking. A study of this “unknown constellation” traces unexpected connections among mid-century political theorists.

On the following day, Prof. Meyer will lead a master class for students and faculty on Hannah Arendt's famous work, The Human Condition.


Image courtesty of Barbara Niggl Radloff,,_Barbara_Niggl_Radloff,_FM-2019-1-5-9-16.jpg

Thomas Meyer received his doctorate from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich (LMU) in 2003 with a thesis on Ernst Cassirer. Six years later he habilitated at LMU with a study on "Jewish Philosophy and Theology from 1933 to 1938.” In 2020, he was appointed professor at LMU in philosophy. His teaching focuses on the political philosophy of Plato and Aristotle. Meyer has published numerous books and essays. Since October 2020, he has been editing an edition of Hannah Arendt's writings. Of the planned twelve volumes, eight have already been published by Piper Verlag Munich. At the end of September 2023, Meyer published a biography of Arendt with Piper, which will be published in the USA by Penguin.

In 2012/13, Thomas Meyer spent an academic year at the invitation of the Divinity School (Prof. Paul Mendes-Flohr) at the University of Chicago and taught a seminar with Prof. John McCormick on Leo Strauss and Carl Schmitt. Since then, he has been invited to lecture by Prof. McCormick, Prof. Ryan Coyne, Prof. David Nirenberg, and Prof. Rokem.