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Between Past and Future (Penguin Classics) Paperback – September 26, 2006

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About the Author

Hannnah Arendt (1906-1975) was for many years University Professor of Political Philosophy in the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research and a Visiting Fellow of the Committee on Social Thought at the University of Chicago. She is also the author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, On Revolution, and Between Past and Future (all available from Penguin Twentieth-Century Classics).

Jerome Kohn is the director of the Hannah Arendt Center at the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research.


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Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; Revised edition (September 26, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143104810
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143104810
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.6 x 7.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #152,105 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) taught political science and philosophy at The New School for Social Research in New York and the University of Chicago. Widely acclaimed as a brilliant and original thinker, her works include Eichmann in Jerusalem and The Human Condition.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

62 of 64 people found the following review helpful By Saul Boulschett on May 29, 2001
Format: Paperback
Notice inside the parenthesis next to the title it says (20th century classics). That's because this work belongs to that rank. I first read this book back when I was in grad school, and have used it as a reference ever since. If a 'classic' -- if we may dare use such a term still -- is something akin to a great poem as Ezra Pound defined it, "News that stays new", then this work is a classic. Arendt must have been a great teacher as well as a thinker. These essays read like lectures: Lectures given by a caring professor who actually gives a damn about getting through to her audience. Yes, some Greek and Latin here and there, but with Arendt as your guide you cannot get lost if you pay attention. The subtitle of the book is Eight Exercises in Political Thought, and Arendt, in her grand style, deals with the big topics -- Freedom, Authority, Power, Tradition, etc -- that ground everything else in civic life. The sheer pleasure to be had in encountering the density of her scholarship is found not only in her crystal clear prose, but also in her mastery of the foundational concepts and experience, Roman and Greek, that shape, willy nilly, the warpature within the space of our civic and political discourse even today. However, in her presentation of the trajectory of tradition, she also shows exactly where and how the displacement of tradition occurred. In the opening lines of her essay 'What is Authority?', she asks whether we ought not instead be asking 'What WAS Authority?', making clear from the get go that the notion of Authority has undergone an irreversible transformation since the Roman conception. And then she goes on to explain how that change occurred and in what way, with what chain of consequences.Read more ›
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Billy Dean Joines on January 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
The last reviewer is correct in the sense that Arendt is an incredibly intelligent writer, it is wrong to judge the book on other works of Arendt. I believe this book demonstrates and explains the close, yet, strangely obscure ties between past occurences and ideas and those of the present. Arendt really puts the true meaning of historical study into place when she places it in all three tenses: past, present, and future. For those of you unacquainted with the writings of Hannah Arendt, I will gladly tell you that no one I have ever read has the observation and mental-leaps that Arendt gave us through her writings. The back of the book says something to the effect that Arendt exposed what is usually passed off as genius as a tired process still running its course. As cliche as remarks on the back of books go, this one so happens to describe her talent perfectly. Arendt shows us that there is very little that is original. Many things really depend on past observations and actions. She also shows us that little has changed since ancient times, in some of our most fundamental system of thinking. I am disappointed that the previous Arendt-reader was not impressed with the book. I have owned it for about five months now, and I still find myself picking back through the explanations and exercises that Arendt gave us. This really is a must have for anyone who reads Hannah Arendt, or anyone who finds themselves between past and future.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on December 6, 2004
Format: Paperback
This along with ' Men in Dark Times' and ' The Human Condition' is my favorite Arendt work. Her analysis of fundamental concepts such as Authority, Truth, Freedom, Action are fundamental in that they go to the root morning of the term and trace the concepts transformations in reality. Her narratives are generally narratives of decline and loss, of concepts and experiences that somehow lose their meanings in the transformation of time. And this while she is always searching for some kind of redefinition of fundamental political activity and reality that will bring a new dignity to the human condition. Her writing is profound, and whether one agrees with her or not her analyses always ' educate' and make ' the life of the mind ' seem especially meaningful.

This is one of the best works of one of the great political thinkers of the modern world.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Costello VINE VOICE on March 28, 2009
Format: Paperback
I have used both this book and _The Human Condition_ in both lower and upper-division philosophy courses. This book has the benefit of compressing Arendt's insights (especially insights into natality, power, and forgiveness) into a much more accessible prose than _The Human Condition_. I would therefore prefer to assign this selection of her work in most classes, especially classes in which one's guiding theme is the philosophy of education or the notion of a participatory democracy.

What I find most interesting in _Between Past and Future_ is the way that Arendt's individual sections on Authority, Freedom, and Education work together. Arendt's critique of authority and tradition--she claims both have ended with totalitarianism, at least in the political realm--is powerful. Her insistence that authority and tradition remain within the home and within education, however, must be read, understood, appreciated and criticized.

Basically, Arendt ties educational authority to a consciously accepted responsibility for the whole world, for the whole institution that one bears within one's stance as educator.

This is a difficult stance for most teachers to take--particularly those of us who teach regularly in college-level service courses. We can feel the stirrings of resentment, and we can sometimes wish to have our say and go home, without a further thought. However, Arendt's position is clear and demands a response: in order to become a full-fledged citizen of a democracy, it is absolutely necessary for students to have had the chance to see teachers and professors as authorities who bear this global responsibility, who teach as if democracy depended on them.
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