The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt (Cambridge Companions to Philosophy)
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Hannah Arendt was one of the foremost political thinkers of the twentieth century, and her particular interests have made her one of the most frequently cited thinkers of our time. This volume examines the primary themes of her multi-faceted work, from her theory of totalitarianism and her controversial idea of the "banality of evil" to her classic studies of political action and her final reflections on judgment and the life of the mind. Each essay examines the political, philosophical, and historical concerns that shaped Arendt's thought.
afﬁrmation or negation. The instant we say no to the solicitation of (or demand for) our consent, we begin to take responsibility for the “brute fact” of our birth. Indeed, this “second birth” introduces us to the ontological difference between what Heidegger (in Being and Time) calls a natural factum brutum and the existential facticity (Faktizität) or givenness of our existence, a difference between what we can and cannot assume responsibility for. For Arendt, the emergence of this difference
wedded to its own territory. Hence “[t]he old dream of the innate paciﬁsm of the nations whose very liberation would guarantee an era of peace and welfare was not all humbug.”57 However, reversing direction, she immediately goes on to present the nation as the more sinister partner in this unhappy alliance: 52 Cambridge Companions Online © Cambridge University Press, 2006 Arendt and nationalism The conquest of the state through the nation started with the declaration of the sovereignty of the
previous intense involvement with Jewish and Zionist politics or her work with Jewish organizations. Hannah Arendt had left Germany in 1933 because she was collecting material for her friend Kurt Blumenfeld on German professional organizations and business associations which were beginning to take punitive action against their Jewish members. Blumenfeld would in turn present this material at the 18th Zionist Congress in 1933.27 She was arrested by the Gestapo and brieﬂy detained, and subsequently
in trying to understand it.18 For her the most and perhaps the only reliable guardians of the facts and events of this world are not those who enact them but spectators, poets to be sure, and also historians and all those who report them, ﬁt them into stories, and judge them. That human beings are born for freedom means that their actions are ﬁt subjects for stories, which alone give full measure to their contingency, their spontaneity, and their unpredictability. In the course of what probably
ﬁnally captured him by getting him drunk. Though Silenus was at ﬁrst sullen and uncommunicative, refusing Midas’ request to tell him what he considered man’s greatest good, Midas pressed him, expecting that Silenus would name the King’s achievements of status and wealth. With what Nietzsche calls “shrill laughter,” Silenus retaliates against Midas’ coercion, with words as shattering as they were unexpected. Here is Nietzsche’s version of Silenus’ wisdom: “Ephemeral wretch, begotten by accident