Hannah Arendt Critical Essays

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This was an extraordinary piece of good luck because we know that many others in similar circumstances were murdered in the cellars of the Gestapo.

Soon after her interrogation, Arendt decided to flee from Germany illegally. Arendt was officially stateless for eighteen years.

In the years since her death the scene has radically changed.

Her books have been translated into dozens of languages.

Arendt was remarkably perceptive about some of the deepest problems, perplexities and dangerous tendencies in modern political life.

Many of these have not disappeared; they have become more intense and more dangerous.She tells us that that as a child, she was barely aware of her Jewishness, but during the 1920s she became aware of the viciousness of Nazi antisemitism.In an interview reflecting on this time of her life she declares: “I realized what I then expressed time and time again in the sentence: If one is attacked as a Jew, one must defend oneself as a Jew.She is an astute critic of the dangerous tendencies in contemporary life and she illuminates the potentialities for restoring the dignity of politics.This is why she is worth reading and rereading today. Arendt believed that all thinking should be grounded in and rooted in one’s experience.She was deeply suspicious of theorising and speculation that lose contact with real experience. Arendt was drawn to Machiavelli’s appeal to the goddess Fortuna (roughly translated as “luck”, “chance”, “contingency”). Unlike her close friend, Walter Benjamin, who always seemed to experience bad luck and finally committed suicide, Arendt’s Fortuna was favourable at crucial moments in her life.Born in 1906 in a German-Jewish secular family, she became an outstanding member of the gifted generation of German-Jewish intellectuals.When Hannah Arendt died in December 1975, she was known primarily because of the controversy about her report of the trial of Adolf Eichmann and the phrase “the banality of evil”.A small circle of admirers and critics in the United States and Germany were knowledgeable about her other works, but she was scarcely considered to be a major political thinker.Peter Euben, University of California, Santa Cruz Lewis P.Hinchman is Associate Professor of Government at Clarkson University. Hinchman is Associate Professor of Government at St.


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