Biography of Hannah Arendt

X-ray's story October 14, 1906
December 4, 1975

Who is Hannah Arendt?

The German philosopher Hannah Arendt was born on October 14, 1906 in Linden, a suburb of Hannover, where he then lived his parents Martha and Paul Arendt. His family, belonging to the Jewish bourgeoisie and decidedly well off, he had special links with the Zionist movement and with ideas. Despite not having received a traditional religious education, however, Arendt did not deny ever their Jewish identity, professing always (but not formal) their faith in God. This framework is extremely important, because Hannah Arendt dedicated his whole life to the effort to understand the destiny of the Jewish people and identified himself completely with its vicissitudes.

A student of Husserl and Heidegger at Freiburg, Marburg in 1929 he graduated in philosophy at Heidelberg under Karl Jaspers with a dissertation on "the concept of love in Augustine". About his relationship with Heidegger, through letters and correspondence unearthed fortuitously, just recently it turned out that they were lovers.

In 1929, she moved to Berlin, obtained a scholarship for research on romantism dedicated to the figure of Rahel Varnhagen ("Rahel Varnahagen. Story of a Jewish woman "). In the same year he marries Günther Stern, a philosopher met years before in Marburg. After the coming to power of the Nazi era and the beginning of the persecution of Jews in Germany, Arendt abandons 1933 through the so-called "green border" forestry Erz. Passing through Prague, Genoa and Geneva comes to Paris, where he met and attended, among others, the writer Walter Benjamin the philosopher and science historian Alexander Koiré.

Until 1951, the year in which you will be granted u.s. citizenship, remains deprived of political rights. In the French capital works at institutions aimed at preparing young people for a life as laborers or farmers in Palestine (l'Agriculture et Artisan and Yugend-Aliyah) and becomes, for a few months, personal Secretary of the Baroness Germaine de Rothschild. In 1940 he married for the second time, with Heinrich Blücher. But the historical developments of the second world war bring Hannah Arendt at having to leave also from French soil.

Interned in the Gurs camp by the Vichy Government as "foreign suspects" and then released, after various vicissitudes manages to sail from the port of Lisbon to New York, reaching with your spouse in May 1941. From 1957 he started actual academic courses at the University of California, Berkeley: gets, Columbia, Princeton and, from 1967 until his death, even at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Don't forget the constant in his fight to totalitarian regimes and their conviction, were converted by a party with the investigative book on Adolf Eichmann and the Nazis: "the banality of evil" and, in 1951, with the fundamental "the origins of totalitarianism", the result of a careful historical investigation and philosophical. In the essay, emerging negative opinions both on the French Revolution and the Russian.

In this regard, let us see what says George Kateb, one of the greatest scholars of the philosopher, that so it summarizes the thinking in relation to evil: "Arendt's attention focuses on the figure of Adolf Eichmann, seated into the glass booth and questioned by a Prosecutor. When asked the reason for his actions, Eichmann replied each time in a different way, now saying that it was limited to execute orders, now that he had felt dishonest do not perform the work that had been entrusted to him, now that his conscience required him to be loyal to his superiors. Basically, all of his answers is reduced to just one: "I did what I did."

From what Hannah Arendt concluded that Eichmann was telling the truth, that was not an evil man, a cruel or paranoid. And the horrible thing was exactly this, that it was a common, ordinary person, most times unable to think, like most of us. For Arendt, all of us are mostly unable to pause to think and say to ourselves what we are doing, whatever it is. In hindsight, the focal point of the study of Hannah Arendt, what drives his interest totalitarianism is well expressed by a sentence of Pascal: "the hardest thing in the world is thinking". Is the book the origins of totalitarianism-both on Eichmann can be considered a response to this brief but extraordinary sentence of Pascal.

Eichmann did not think, and this was how we all are most frequently: creature subject or habit or mechanical impulse. It is understandable, then, because evil is called "trivial": it has depth, has no essence corresponds to its effects. However, according to the author, this psychological interpretation of Eichmann cannot be extended to the leaders of Nazism, Hitler, Goering, Himmler. They had some psychological depth, were ideologically committed. Eichmann, in contrast, was only an official: this is the "banality of evil".

The difference, then, between the origins of totalitarianism and the banality of evil: Eichmann in Jerusalem consists in this, that the first talks, mainly, of all those who foment evil, while the second, coming to complete the analysis of the whole phenomenon, is the mentality of officials of evil. Moreover, that the biggest villain of the 20th century is good family man is an idea coming out forcefully from production of Arendt.

This concludes its effort to find an explanation to the most horrible of all phenomena. It is subject of academic discussion if you're truly successful in this aim to be truly successful. Personally, I support that Hannah Arendt, in an attempt to explain the cause and nature of the evil of totalitarianism, it went deeper than George Orwell, of Simone Weil and other scholars, and I think this is enough to make them deserve our attention. "

Still, it is to remember its strenuous defense of workers ' rights and associations during the Viet Nam war and incidents of civil disobedience (the writings concerning this phase are in "civil disobedience").

In 1972, she was invited to hold the Gifford Lectures at the University of Aberdeen, Scotland who had previously hosted thinkers such as Bergson, Gilson and Marcel.

Two years later, during the second cycle of "Gifford", undergoes the first heart attack. Other important works from this period are "Vita activa. The human condition "and the theoretical volume" life of the mind ", published posthumously in 1978, by which the Greek authors Arendt, on lines beloved (a love" inoculated "from Heidegger), back to the Centre of human existence the" wonder "(thaumàzein).

The December 4, 1975 the great thinker Hannah Arendt goes off because of a second heart attack in his apartment in Riverside Drive in New York.