Responsibility and Judgment

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, Apr 2, 2009 - Philosophy - 336 pages
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Each of the books that Hannah Arendt published in her lifetime was unique, and to this day each continues to provoke fresh thought and interpretations. This was never more true than for Eichmann in Jerusalem, her account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, where she first used the phrase “the banality of evil.” Her consternation over how a man who was neither a monster nor a demon could nevertheless be an agent of the most extreme evil evoked derision, outrage, and misunderstanding. The firestorm of controversy prompted Arendt to readdress fundamental questions and concerns about the nature of evil and the making of moral choices. Responsibility and Judgment gathers together unpublished writings from the last decade of Arendt’s life, as she struggled to explicate the meaning of Eichmann in Jerusalem.

At the heart of this book is a profound ethical investigation, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy”; in it Arendt confronts the inadequacy of traditional moral “truths” as standards to judge what we are capable of doing, and she examines anew our ability to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. We see how Arendt comes to understand that alongside the radical evil she had addressed in earlier analyses of totalitarianism, there exists a more pernicious evil, independent of political ideology, whose execution is limitless when the perpetrator feels no remorse and can forget his acts as soon as they are committed.

Responsibility and Judgment is an essential work for understanding Arendt’s conception of morality; it is also an indispensable investigation into some of the most troubling and important issues of our time.


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Responsibility and judgment

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Arendt (The Origins of Totalitarianism; Eichmann in Jerusalem) was one the most influential political thinkers of the 20th century, and this selection of essays and lectures is certain to have a wide ... Read full review

Contents

Prologue
3
Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship
49
11
202
Notes 177
277
Index
287
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About the author (2009)

Hannah Arendt was born in Hanover, Germany, in 1906, fled to Paris in 1933, and came to the United States after the outbreak of World War II. She was the editorial director of Schocken Books from 1946 to 1948. She taught at Berkeley, Princeton, the University of Chicago, and The New School for Social Research. Among her other books are The Human Condition, On Revolution, and Life of the Mind. Arendt died in 1975.


From the Hardcover edition.

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