Jerome Kohn, Guest Editor
Arien Mack, Editor
This is the second of two issues celebrating the 100th year of Hannah Arendt’s birth. Together, the two issues present a variety of different perspectives on her work and testify to her strong continuing influence on Western thought.
Guest Editor's Introduction
These two issues of Social Research bring together a distinguished group of authors from different fields of scholarship -the humanities, philosophy, politics, history, and literature -all of whom provide new perspectives on, and fresh insight into Arendt’s philosophic and political thought. A principal merit of these essays is their manifestation of the variety of ways in which Arendt’s work influences and affects contemporary thinkers.
The Great Tradition II. Ruling and Being Ruled
In this article, published here for the first time, the author, political philosopher Hannah Arendt, examines the human experience of ruling and being ruled. Taking as her starting point the observations on the subject made by the 17th century philosopher Montesquieu, Arendt notes that Western political thought determined that the division between ruler and ruled led to the foundation of three types of government, monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. In addition Arendt considers the impact of 20th century totalitarianism.
Against the Sovereignty of Philosophy over Politics: Arendt's Reading of Plato's Cave Allegory
In this article the author offers a critique of traditional political philosophy, in particular its origins in the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato. Examined are the interpretations of Plato's allegory of the cave as offered by philosophers Martin Heidegger and Hannah Arendt. The author questions whether or not Arendt's explanation of the allegory suggests that she has developed a new philosophy of politics or whether she has an evolved political theory that severs its connection with Western philosophical thought.
Arendt, Heidegger, and the Tradition
In this essay the author examines the influence the writings of philosopher Martin Heidegger had on political philosopher Hannah Arendt. The author notes that despite Arendt's debt to Heidegger her concept of human plurality, that is, recognizing that there is more than one ultimate principle, is at variance with his. The author examines Arendt's contention that political activity should abjure violence, coercion and hierarchy, and questions if the public freedom that results can find a place in a modern culture that is becoming more religious and introverted.
Arendt, Heidegger, Jaspers: Thinking Through the Breach in Tradition
In this paper the author examines the conception of a breach with political philosophical tradition as voiced by the philosophers Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, and Karl Jaspers. The author states that Heidegger believed that the breach occurred with the onset of 20th century modernity, while Jaspers and Arendt believed that the breach had been made real with the Nazi genocide of European Jewry. According to the author the atrocities of the 20th century caused Jaspers to question the meaning of morality, while Arendt pondered the philosophy of political action.
Hannah Arendt: Politics, Opinion, Truth
In this article the author examines the philosophical contention that truth is valued over opinion and that this state of affairs has caused a misconception of politics. According to the paper, political philosopher Hannah Arendt maintained that opinion could be made truthful. She also asserted that there were types of truth for which individuals were responsible if they are going to promote the betterment of society. The article also examines the questions of relativity and perception of truth and its impact on the notion of plurality.
Jerome Kohn and Elisabeth Young-Bruehl
On Truth, Lies, and Politics: Conversation
The article presents the transcript of a conversation between Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, an author and psychoanalyst and Jerome Kohn, director of the Hannah Arendt Center at the New School for Social Research, New York City. In the piece they discuss the dialogic thinking of political philosopher Hannah Arendt. They suggest that Arendt was the first philosopher to expound on the notion that the distortion of actual truth is an impediment to overt political action. That obstacle is present in American political life in 2008, according to the authors.
The Elusiveness of Arendtian Judgement
In this article the author discusses aspects of the political thought of political philosopher Hannah Arendt. He disagrees with interpreters who suggest that Arendt's linking of political thought to action can be found in modern liberal democracies. He suggests that Arendt's notions of the passive practice of politics by individuals does not, in fact, represent passivity but reflects nonparticipation, thus imbuing the question with moral value. The article also examines Arendt's writings on human judgment in light of the teachings of philosophers Friedrich Nietzsche and Immanuel Kant.
"...sed victa Catoni": The Defeated Cause of Revolutions
The article discusses the concept of the human predicament, defined as a feeling that the conditions of human life are both important and fraught with difficulties. It focuses on religious and secular philosophies regarding such issues. Writings by the authors Adi Shankara, Paul Tillich, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Catherine Keller are analyzed and compared in this context. Tillich and Shankara are described as promoting the doctrine of immanence, that the divine is present in the world. Keller and Nietzsche are discussed in terms of their views on cosmology.
A State on Trial: Hannah Arendt vs. the State of Israel
In this article the author examines the issues and controversies surrounding political philosopher Hannah Arendt and her account of the trial for war crimes of the Nazi official, Adolph Eichmann. The trial was held in Israel in 1961. He notes that Arendt's role in that trial is usually discussed in light of her assertion that Eichmann proved that ordinary persons can commit terrible crimes for the most banal of reasons. The paper, however, explores Arendt, Eichmann, the Holocaust and the trial itself as important elements in the building of the nation of Israel.
Europe and Its Refugees: Arendt on the the Politicization of Minorities
In this article the author examines the problem of stateless refugee populations, a significant number of people world-wide in 2008. He discusses such populations in light of assertions made by political philosopher Hannah Arendt, who distinguished between political and social exclusion of European Jews. The pariah status of Jews in pre-war European society made them a political entity, according to Arendt, who hoped that a pan-European organization would recognize stateless Jews as a nation. The author avers that the European Union, in 2008 a version of the organization Arendt hoped for, is ineffective in the face of contemporary statelessness.
Organized Innocence and Exclusion: "Nation-States" in the Aftermath of War and Collective Crime
In this article the author presents a political analysis of the disintegration of the state of Yugoslavia. The collapse allowed the multiethnic whole of one country to break down into a series of smaller nations whose populations were bound by a common ethnicity. This development exacerbated tensions in the Balkans. According to the author this analysis of former Yugoslav civil societies was inspired by "The Origins of Totalitarianism," by political philosopher Hannah Arendt. The paper investigates the dangers of the destruction of a multiethnic, totalitarian state.