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Philosophy As A Way Of Life In The Works Of Etty Hillesum

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Chapter Summary

This chapter explores some issues that arise from the study of the diaries and letters of Etty Hillesum, from the perspective of philosophy and philosophical practice. In current studies of Etty Hillesum, there are two contrasting schools of thought as to whether 'Etty Hillesum was a philosopher'. However, it is intriguing to explore what Hillesum herself thought about philosophy, and to see if any evidence of her possible 'philosophical practices' can be found in her writing. To illustrate the complexity of such an inquiry, the author refers to the wellknown metaphor described by Walter Benjamin in the first pages of his famous essay on Goethe's Wahlverwandtschaften. Following Benjamin's metaphor, the author rely on the chemist's approach. Etty Hillesum's works suggest that our uncertainty towards life's chaos and its demands asks for a philosophical life. This is why, the author finally emphasizes the alchemic approach.

Keywords: alchemic approach; chemist's approach; Etty Hillesum; philosophy; Walter Benjamin



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