Arendt and America
Richard H. King University of Chicago Press, 2015 Library of Congress JC251.A74K56 2015 | Dewey Decimal 320.5
German-Jewish political philosopher Hannah Arendt (1906–75) fled from the Nazis to New York in 1941, and during the next thirty years in America she wrote her best-known and most influential works, such as The Human Condition, The Origins of Totalitarianism, and On Revolution. Yet, despite the fact that a substantial portion of her oeuvre was written in America, not Europe, no one has directly considered the influence of America on her thought—until now. In Arendt and America, historian Richard H. King argues that while all of Arendt’s work was haunted by her experience of totalitarianism, it was only in her adopted homeland that she was able to formulate the idea of the modern republic as an alternative to totalitarian rule.
Situating Arendt within the context of U.S. intellectual, political, and social history, King reveals how Arendt developed a fascination with the political thought of the Founding Fathers. King also re-creates her intellectual exchanges with American friends and colleagues, such as Dwight Macdonald and Mary McCarthy, and shows how her lively correspondence with sociologist David Riesman helped her understand modern American culture and society. In the last section of Arendt and America, King sets out the context in which the Eichmann controversy took place and follows the debate about “the banality of evil” that has continued ever since. As King shows, Arendt’s work, regardless of focus, was shaped by postwar American thought, culture, and politics, including the Civil Rights Movement and the Cold War.
For Arendt, the United States was much more than a refuge from Nazi Germany; it was a stimulus to rethink the political, ethical, and historical traditions of human culture. This authoritative combination of intellectual history and biography offers a unique approach for thinking about the influence of America on Arendt’s ideas and also the effect of her ideas on American thought.
A nuanced extrapolation of Hannah Arendt’s theory of judgment through her highly provocative reading of Immanuel Kant
More than a half century after it was first published, Hannah Arendt’s Origins of Totalitarianism rose to the top of best-seller lists as readers grappled with the triumph of Trumpism. Arendt, Kant, and the Enigma of Judgment directs our attention to her later thought, the posthumously published and highly provocative Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy. Martin Blumenthal-Barby puts this work in dialogue with Arendt’s other writings, including her notes on Kant’s Critique of Judgment, to outline her own theory of judgment for the twentieth century. In an era of post-truths and artificial intelligence, the idea that authentic judgment—for example, the ability to distinguish right from wrong—is incommensurable with abstract, automated processes lies at the center of Arendt’s late work and at the fore of our collective reckoning.
Rather than presenting us with a fixed account, Blumenthal-Barby suggests, Arendt’s drawing and redrawing of conceptual distinctions is itself an enactment of judgment, a process that challenges and complicates what she says at every turn. In so doing, Arendt, in thoroughly Kantian fashion, establishes judgment as a performative category that can never be taught but only demonstrated. As sharp as it is timely, this incisive book reminds us why a shared reality matters in a time of intense political polarization and why the democratic project, vulnerable as it may appear today, crucially depends on it.
"The European intellectual Hannah Arendt worried about the tendency of social structures to take on a life of their own and paralyze individual action. Pitkin . . . is determined to trace our problems to the actions of individuals. This book is thus a battle of wits. . . . [A] vivid sketch of the conflict between two basic outlooks."—Library Journal
"[O]ne leaves this book feeling enriched and challenged. Pitkin prompts us to rethink our understanding of Arendt and to demythologize the pervasive sense of political helplessness Arendt herself sought so hard to articulate. . . . [A] cause for celebration."—Peter Baehr, Times Literary Supplement
"[Arendt] is certainly among the most original and outstanding political theorists of the twentieth century. . . . It is difficult to imagine a hostile critic examining more effectively than Pitkin . . . Arendt's concept of the social, for hostility would inhibit the acquisition of the mastery of Arendt's texts that Pitkin displays at every turn."—Peter Berkowitz, New Republic
Renowned in the disciplines of political theory and philosophy, Hannah Arendt’s searing critiques of modernity continue to resonate in other fields of thought decades after she wrote them. In Communication Ethics in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt’s Rhetoric of Warning and Hope, author Ronald C. Arnett offers a groundbreaking examination of fifteen of Arendt’s major scholarly works, considering the German writer’s contributions to the areas of rhetoric and communication ethics for the first time.
Arnett focuses on Arendt’s use of the phrase “dark times” to describe the mistakes of modernity, defined by Arendt as the post-Enlightenment social conditions, discourses, and processes ruled by principles of efficiency, progress, and individual autonomy. These principles, Arendt argues, have led humanity down a path of folly, banality, and hubris. Throughout his interpretive evaluation, Arnett illuminates the implications of Arendt’s persistent metaphor of “dark times” and engages the question, How might communication ethics counter the tenets of dark times and their consequences? A compelling study of Hannah Arendt’s most noteworthy works and their connections to the fields of rhetoric and communication ethics, Communication Ethics in Dark Times provides an illuminating introduction for students and scholars of communication ethics and rhetoric, and a tool with which experts may discover new insights, connections, and applications to these fields.
Top Book Award for Philosophy of Communication Ethics by Communication Ethics Division of the National Communication Association, 2013
Few people thought as deeply or incisively about Germany, Jewish identity, and the Holocaust as Hannah Arendt and Gershom Scholem. And, as this landmark volume reveals, much of that thinking was developed in dialogue, through more than two decades of correspondence.
Arendt and Scholem met in 1932 in Berlin and quickly bonded over their mutual admiration for and friendship with Walter Benjamin. They began exchanging letters in 1939, and their lively correspondence continued until 1963, when Scholem’s vehement disagreement with Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem led to a rupture that would last until Arendt’s death a dozen years later. The years of their friendship, however, yielded a remarkably rich bounty of letters: together, they try to come to terms with being both German and Jewish, the place and legacy of Germany before and after the Holocaust, the question of what it means to be Jewish in a post-Holocaust world, and more. Walter Benjamin is a constant presence, as his life and tragic death are emblematic of the very questions that preoccupied the pair. Like any collection of letters, however, the book also has its share of lighter moments: accounts of travels, gossipy dinner parties, and the quotidian details that make up life even in the shadow of war and loss.
In a world that continues to struggle with questions of nationalism, identity, and difference, Arendt and Scholem remain crucial thinkers. This volume offers us a way to see them, and the development of their thought, anew.
In The Crisis of Meaning and the Life-World, Ľubica Učník examines the existential conflict that formed the focus of Edmund Husserl’s final work, which she argues is very much with us today: how to reconcile scientific rationality with the meaning of human existence. To investigate this conundrum, she places Husserl in dialogue with three of his most important successors: Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and Jan Patočka.
For Husserl, 1930s Europe was characterized by a growing irrationalism that threatened to undermine its legacy of rational inquiry. Technological advancement in the sciences, Husserl argued, had led science to forget its own foundations in the primary “life-world”: the world of lived experience. Renewing Husserl’s concerns in today’s context, Učník first provides an original and compelling reading of his oeuvre through the lens of the formalization of the sciences, then traces the unfolding of this problem through the work of Heidegger, Arendt, and Patočka.
Although many scholars have written on Arendt, none until now has connected her philosophical thought with that of Czech phenomenologist Jan Patočka. Učník provides invaluable access to the work of the latter, who remains understudied in the English language. She shows that together, these four thinkers offer new challenges to the way we approach key issues confronting us today, providing us with ways to reconsider truth, freedom, and human responsibility in the face of the postmodern critique of metanarratives and a growing philosophical interest in new forms of materialism.
"Isak Dinesen . . . had an original approach to life that permeated all her work. She loved storytelling, with the result that most of her essays are quasi-narratives, which proceed not from major to minor premise but from one anecdote to another as the way of making concrete whatever idea she is considering. Her work is a delight and at times a marvel."—The New Yorker
"Through these daguerreotypes we begin to understand other periods, the renunciations of World War I, the purpose of houses and mansions, of ritual ceremonials, such as tatooing. We are given a fresh and vivid view of the women's movement . . . which urges that what our 'small society' needs beyond human beings who have demonstrated what they can do, is people who are. 'Indeed, our own time,' she wrote in 1953, 'can be said to need a revision from doing to being.' She demonstrated it in her own work and craft, with courage and with dignity. This collection is as real as a gallery of old daguerreotypes, moving and unfaded. The work, as Hannah Arendt says, of a wise woman."—Robert Kirsch, Los Angeles Times
"These essays . . . have the flavor of good conversation: humorous, easy, personal but not oppressive, the distillation of reading, thought, and experience. Their subjects are of surprisingly current interest. We need make no concessions to the past, need not set our watches back to 'historical.' Isak Dinesen was not a faddish thinker. . . . 'In history it is always the human element that has a chance for eternal life,' Dinesen remarks, and she gives these essays their chance."—Penelope Mesic, Chicago
In An Education in Judgment, philosopher D. N. Rodowick makes the definitive case for a philosophical humanistic education aimed at the cultivation of a life guided by both self-reflection and interpersonal exchange. Such a life is an education in judgment, the moral capacity to draw conclusions alone and with others, and in letting one’s own judgments be answerable to the potentially contrasting judgments of others. Thinking, for Rodowick, is an art we practice with and learn from each other on a daily basis.
In taking this approach, Rodowick follows the lead of Hannah Arendt, who made judgment the cornerstone of her conception of community. What is important for Rodowick, as for Arendt, is the cultivation of “free relations,” in which we allow our judgments to be affected and transformed by those of others, creating “an ever-widening fabric of intersubjective moral consideration.” That is a fragile fabric, certainly, but one that Rodowick argues is worth pursuing, caring for, and preserving. This original work thinks with and beyond Arendt about the importance of the humanities and what “the humanities” amounts to beyond the walls of the university.
Exiles in the City: Hannah Arendt and Edward W. Said in Counterpoint, by William V. Spanos, explores the affiliative relationship between Arendt’s and Said’s thought, not simply their mutual emphasis on the importance of the exilic consciousness in an age characterized by the decline of the nation-state and the rise of globalization, but also on the oppositional politics that a displaced consciousness enables. The pairing of these two extraordinary intellectuals is unusual and controversial because of their ethnic identities. In radically secularizing their comportment towards being, their exilic condition enabled them to undertake inaugural critiques of the culture of the nation-state system of Western modernity.
As variations on the theme of exile, the five chapters of this book constitute reflections on what is foundational and abiding in both Arendt’s and Said’s work. They not only document the heretofore unnoticed affiliation between the two thinkers. They also shed light on Arendt’s and Said’s proleptic activist explorations of the urgent “question of Palestine,” especially on the fraught present situation, which bears increasing witness to the irony that the Israeli nation-state’s “solution” has, from the beginning, systematically repeated the degradations the Jewish people suffered at the hands of German nationalism.
Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Theodor W. Adorno were intellectual giants of the first half of the twentieth century. The drama Foreplay explores their deeply human and psychologically intriguing private lives, focusing on professional and personal jealousies, the mutual dislike of Theodor Adorno and Hannah Arendt, the association between Walter Benjamin and Georges Bataille, and the border between erotica and pornography.
Djerassi’s extensive biographical research brings to light many fascinating details revealed in the dialogues among the characters, including Adorno’s obsession with his dreams, Benjamin’s admiration for Franz Kafka, and the intimate correspondence between Gretel Adorno and Walter Benjamin. The introduction of a fictitious character, Fräulein X, intensifies the complex interplay among the four lead protagonists and allows for a comparison of Adorno’s philandering and the similar behavior of Martin Heidegger, whose affair with Hannah Arendt is well known. Foreplay brims with intrigue and the friction created when strong personalities clash.
The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, “the theorist of beginnings,” whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations—from totalitarianism to revolution.
A work of striking originality, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then—diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions—continue to confront us today. This new edition, published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of its original publication, contains Margaret Canovan’s 1998 introduction and a new foreword by Danielle Allen.
A classic in political and social theory, The Human Condition is a work that has proved both timeless and perpetually timely.
A work of striking originality bursting with unexpected insights, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then—diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions—continue to confront us today. This new edition, published to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of its original publication, contains an improved and expanded index and a new introduction by noted Arendt scholar Margaret Canovan which incisively analyzes the book's argument and examines its present relevance. A classic in political and social theory, The Human Condition is a work that has proved both timeless and perpetually timely.
Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the leading social theorists in the United States. Her Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy and Love and Saint Augustine are also published by the University of Chicago Press.
Hannah Arendt's last philosophical work was an intended three-part project entitled The Life of the Mind. Unfortunately, Arendt lived to complete only the first two parts, Thinking and Willing. Of the third, Judging, only the title page, with epigraphs from Cato and Goethe, was found after her death. As the titles suggest, Arendt conceived of her work as roughly parallel to the three Critiques of Immanuel Kant. In fact, while she began work on The Life of the Mind, Arendt lectured on "Kant's Political Philosophy," using the Critique of Judgment as her main text. The present volume brings Arendt's notes for these lectures together with other of her texts on the topic of judging and provides important clues to the likely direction of Arendt's thinking in this area.
Love and Saint Augustine
Hannah Arendt University of Chicago Press, 1995 Library of Congress BV4639.A6513 1995 | Dewey Decimal 177.7092
Hannah Arendt began her scholarly career with an exploration of Saint Augustine's concept of caritas, or neighborly love, written under the direction of Karl Jaspers and the influence of Martin Heidegger. After her German academic life came to a halt in 1933, Arendt carried her dissertation into exile in France, and years later took the same battered and stained copy to New York. During the late 1950s and early 1960s, as she was completing or reworking her most influential studies of political life, Arendt was simultaneously annotating and revising her dissertation on Augustine, amplifying its argument with terms and concepts she was using in her political works of the same period. The disseration became a bridge over which Arendt traveled back and forth between 1929 Heidelberg and 1960s New York, carrying with her Augustine's question about the possibility of social life in an age of rapid political and moral change.
In Love and Saint Augustine, Joanna Vecchiarelli Scott and Judith Chelius Stark make this important early work accessible for the first time. Here is a completely corrected and revised English translation that incorporates Arendt's own substantial revisions and provides additional notes based on letters, contracts, and other documents as well as the recollections of Arendt's friends and colleagues during her later years.
In this age of nearly unprecedented partisan rancor, you’d be forgiven for thinking we could all do with a smaller daily dose of politics. In his provocative and sharp book, however, Ned O’Gorman argues just the opposite: Politics for Everybody contends that what we really need to do is engage more deeply with politics, rather than chuck the whole thing out the window. In calling for a purer, more humanistic relationship with politics—one that does justice to the virtues of open, honest exchange—O’Gorman draws on the work of Hannah Arendt (1906–75). As a German-born Jewish thinker who fled the Nazis for the United States, Arendt set out to defend politics from its many detractors along several key lines: the challenge of separating genuine politics from distorted forms; the difficulty of appreciating politics for what it is; the problems of truth and judgment in politics; and the role of persuasion in politics. O’Gorman’s book offers an insightful introduction to Arendt’s ideas for anyone who wants to think more carefully
What is the relationship between anger and justice, especially when so much of our moral education has taught us to value the impartial spectator, the cold distance of reason? In Sing the Rage, Sonali Chakravarti wrestles with this question through a careful look at the emotionally charged South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which from 1996 to 1998 saw, day after day, individuals taking the stand to speak—to cry, scream, and wail—about the atrocities of apartheid. Uncomfortable and surprising, these public emotional displays, she argues, proved to be of immense value, vital to the success of transitional justice and future political possibilities.
Chakravarti takes up the issue from Adam Smith and Hannah Arendt, who famously understood both the dangers of anger in politics and the costs of its exclusion. Building on their perspectives, she argues that the expression and reception of anger reveal truths otherwise unavailable to us about the emerging political order, the obstacles to full civic participation, and indeed the limits—the frontiers—of political life altogether. Most important, anger and the development of skills needed to truly listen to it foster trust among citizens and recognition of shared dignity and worth. An urgent work of political philosophy in an era of continued revolution, Sing the Rage offers a clear understanding of one of our most volatile—and important—political responses.
Sociability and Its Enemies contributes both to contemporary studies of political theory and to discourse on postwar Germany by reconstructing the arguments concerning the nature and value of sociability as a form of interaction and interconnection particular to modern bourgeois society. Jakob Norberg argues that the writings of Hannah Arendt, Jürgen Habermas, Carl Schmitt, and the historian Reinhart Koselleck present conflicting responses to a hitherto neglected question or point of contention: whether bourgeois sociability should serve as a therapeutic practice and politically relevant ideal for postwar Germany. The book sheds light on previously neglected historical and conceptual connections among political theorists, and it enriches established narratives of postwar intellectual history.
This book focuses on six brilliant women who are often seen as particularly tough-minded: Simone Weil, Hannah Arendt, Mary McCarthy, Susan Sontag, Diane Arbus, and Joan Didion. Aligned with no single tradition, they escape straightforward categories. Yet their work evinces an affinity of style and philosophical viewpoint that derives from a shared attitude toward suffering. What Mary McCarthy called a “cold eye” was not merely a personal aversion to displays of emotion: it was an unsentimental mode of attention that dictated both ethical positions and aesthetic approaches.
Tough Enough traces the careers of these women and their challenges to the pre-eminence of empathy as the ethical posture from which to examine pain. Their writing and art reveal an adamant belief that the hurts of the world must be treated concretely, directly, and realistically, without recourse to either melodrama or callousness. As Deborah Nelson shows, this stance offers an important counter-tradition to the familiar postwar poles of emotional expressivity on the one hand and cool irony on the other. Ultimately, in its insistence on facing reality without consolation or compensation, this austere “school of the unsentimental” offers new ways to approach suffering in both its spectacular forms and all of its ordinariness.
The Weimar origins of political theory is a widespread and powerful narrative, but this singular focus leaves out another intellectual history that historian David L. Marshall works to reveal: the Weimar origins of rhetorical inquiry. Marshall focuses his attention on Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, and Aby Warburg, revealing how these influential thinkers inflected and transformed problems originally set out by Max Weber, Carl Schmitt, Theodor Adorno, Hans Baron, and Leo Strauss. He contends that we miss major opportunities if we do not attend to the rhetorical aspects of their thought, and his aim, in the end, is to lay out an intellectual history that can become a zone of theoretical experimentation in para-democratic times. Redescribing the Weimar origins of political theory in terms of rhetorical inquiry, Marshall provides fresh readings of pivotal thinkers and argues that the vision of rhetorical inquiry that they open up allows for new ways of imagining political communities today.