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political philosopher

Ágnes Heller

Hungary, 1929

Ágnes Heller was a Hungarian-Jewish philosopher. During her long life, she saw and participated in much of recent European history. As a Jew, she survived the Nazi regime in Budapest during the Second World War. After the war she studied philosophy with György Lukács, under whose influence she joined the movement of Marxist critical theorists. Her convictions caused her to clash repeatedly with the ruling Communist Party, which forced her into exile in 1977. Subsequently Heller lived in Australia and the United States, where she was appointed Professor of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York. She then returned to live in Budapest, where Viktor Orbán’s regime treated her as a bothersome dissident who had to be kept silent – something Heller adamantly refused to accept. Heller wrote numerous books on ethics, existentialism and the history of philosophy. Among her many works are A Philosophy of Morals (1990), The Time is Out of Joint (2002) and The Immortal Comedy (2005).

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