Hannah Arendt Critical Essays

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

There seems to be no end of books, conferences and articles focusing on Arendt and her ideas.They offer a fine general introduction as well as helpful specific prefaces to each section.Their own remarks are intelligent, informed, thoughtful, and establish a continuity of themes between sections while sharpening debate in them Many of the essays are so good and have attained such considerable notoriety that there will be a ready audience for the book."--J.In the early 1920s she studied with Germany’s most important philosophers and theologians, including Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers and Bultmann.With the ominous growth of the Nazis and their rabid antisemitism, Arendt agreed to help her Zionist friends by doing research at the Berlin state library on Nazi antisemitic propaganda.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.When Arendt speaks of “dark times” she is not exclusively referring to the horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism.She says: “If it is the function of the public realm to throw light on the affairs of men by providing a space of appearances in which they can show in deed and word, for better or worse, who they are and what they can do, then darkness has come when this light is extinguished by ‘credibility gaps’ and ‘invisible government,’ by speech that does not disclose what is, but sweeps it under the carpet, by exhortations, moral and otherwise, that under the pretext of upholding old truths, degrade all truth in meaningless triviality.” It is hard to resist the conclusion that we are now living in dark times that are engulfing the entire world.But Arendt had the good fortune to secure employment with several Jewish and Zionist organisations – including Youth Aliyah – the organisation that sent endangered European Jewish youths to Palestine.Arendt’s living experience as a stateless refugee shaped her earliest thinking.

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