Vol. 6 | The Modern Challenge to Tradition | Editorial Introduction

Palenville Fragment

The editors have appended page 27, which was misfiled with “Karl Marx and the Tradition of Western Political Thought: The Modern Challenge to Tradition,” and which is concerned with the disrepute into which Greek philosophy cast politics as a human pursuit, to an eight page fragment with page numbers starting at 29. While this position is not certain, the opening of page 29 (“And it will not realize any special or new philosophy, not the philosophy, for instance, of Marx himself …”) is clearly discussing the eleventh thesis on Feuerbach, and the closing sentence of page 27 (“However, at the end of this tradition stands one lonely remark of”) that is clearly transitioning to Marx in his terminating role. That a lost page 28 would center on the Marxian demand to realize philosophy politically is, the editors feel, sufficiently plausible to justify appending the page here. It should be noted, however, that the hypothesis does not have indubitable material support; over the past half-century page 27 has, for whatever reason, acidified far more than have the other continuous pages.

The fragment was written on the Palenville machine, but does not coincide with any of the other texts surviving from those weeks. The fragment thus testifies to a typescript of at least 35 pages, most of which has not come down to us in any recognizable form. While speculation on the missing content is fruitless, its existence further demonstrates the astonishing expressive energy Arendt exhibited at this time, and underscores the shattered and partial nature of the documents that survive from it.

James McFarland