Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt wrote some of the profoundest philosophy of the twentieth century. Her work is rich and subtle; she engaged critically with the key intellectual ideas of philosophical history:
What makes humans ‘human’; what makes an ethical life; the nature of evil; how do we forgive the unforgivable; what does it mean to have ‘common sense’; what is the nature of ‘story telling’. She also undertook the considerable task of understanding the political events of her own time and produced works such as The Origins of Totalitarianism and Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. In the late sixties she turned her attention to the Civil Rights movement, feminism and the Vietnam War. Her last work The Life of the Mind was published posthumously. In this work she asks: What are we ‘doing’ when we do nothing but think?


This class will be delivered online via the online platform Zoom. Enrolling students need to ensure they have an email, a reliable internet connection, microphone/speakers and access to a tablet, smartphone or computer.


COURSE OUTLINE

  • Introduction to Key Concepts: Power; evil; thought; speech; and truth.
  • Life and Times: Hannah Arendt’s life experiences as a Jew in Germany, the imperative to leave Germany, fleeing from the Nazis, and her life in America, are crucial to understanding the problems which she believes philosophy must address, and give some answer to. She does not think that philosophy has the right to remain on the sidelines of history.
  • The Origins of Totalitarianism: We will now consider her four major books, beginning with: The Origins of Totalitarianism. Each week I will give an overview of the text, its major themes and arguments, and then we will analyze sections of the work.
  • The Human Condition: Purposive behavior is possible because humans experience their ability, through ‘work’ to shape the world they inhabit; without it we could only live moment to moment. Arendt’s arguments are subtle and complex. She draws on some aspects of Nietzsche’s philosophy, but rejects other aspects; she has elements of both Existentialism and Phenomenology and yet comes to her own conclusions.
  • Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. This was her most controversial work, but survived the initial outrage to become probably her most read and discussed theory.
  • The Life of the Mind: She has a dynamic theory of thought. We will study her ideas on how humans make judgements, and the nature of ‘willing’ amongst others.
  • Political Activism: On the Civil Rights movement, Feminism, Vietnam. Text: 'Reflections on Little Rock'
  • Arendt on Narrative and Drama: Text: Unlearning with Hannah Arendt by Marie Luise Knott.
  • Arendt amongst the Poets and Playwrights: Arendt had many wonderful insights into the works of poets such as Auden and playwrights such as Shakespeare: to say she was ‘well read’ would certainly be an understatement.
  • Interpretation: Some recent interpretations of Arendt’s ideas. This week we will also do an analysis of the film Hannah Arendt.


PLANNED LEARNING OUTCOMES
By the end of this course, students should be able to:

  1. Identify the main theories of Hannah Arendt and discuss them in relation to our contemporary situation
  2. Discuss the issues involved in questions concerning the role of narrative and drama in political theory.
  3. Discuss her warnings concerning the rise of totalitarian governments in relation to the post-Covid world.
$270 Limited / $243

<p>Hannah Arendt wrote some of the profoundest philosophy of the twentieth century. Her work is rich and subtle; she engaged critically with the key intellectual ideas of philosophical history: <br/>

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06 Oct

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