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Hannah Arendt And The Jewish Question Paperback – July 11, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0262522144 ISBN-10: 0262522144 Edition: Lst MIT Press ed

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 251 pages
  • Publisher: The MIT Press; Lst MIT Press ed edition (July 11, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0262522144
  • ISBN-13: 978-0262522144
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,359,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"Richard Bernstein's excellent study completely succeeds in reintegrating Hannah Arendt's disparate body of work around a central Jewish theme. This is a deeply thoughtful, challenging reading of a thinker whom Gershom Scholem perceptively called 'a daughter of our people.'" Jewish Chronicle

"Highly readable." German Politics

"This is an extremely readable book which advances a straightforward and ungainsayable thesis: Hannah Arendt's concern with the Jewish question was central to the development of her theories. It is thus an interpretation of Arendt through the lens of her Jewish experience and has the freshness and vitality that Bernstein claims to have felt when he read her from such a perspective. Bernstein's book is a fascinating read ... one of its pleasure is the way that it opens the discussion. It does much else besides - for example, a re-examination of Arendt's concepts of the banality of evil and radical evil. Whatever you think of the arguments, you will enjoy the read, whether you are using the book as an introduction to her thought, or are looking for fresh insights into Arendt. It is a real accomplishment to have written a study that works on both levels." Radical Philosophy --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Back Cover

Hannah Arendt is increasingly recognised as one of the most original social and political thinkers of the twentieth century. In this important book, Richard Bernstein sets out to show that many of the most significant themes in Arendt's thinking have their origins in their confrontation with the Jewish Question. By approaching her mature work from this perspective, we can gain a richer and more subtle grasp of her main ideas.

Bernstein discusses some of the key experiences and events in Arendt's life story in order to show how they shaped her thinking. He examines her distinction between the Jewish parvenu and the pariah, and shows how the conscious pariah becomes a basis for understanding the independent thinker. Arendt's deepest insights about politics emerged from her reflections on statelessness, which were based on her own experiences as a stateless person. By confronting the horrors of totalitarianism and the concentration camps, Arendt developed her own distinctive understanding of authentic politics - the politics required to express our humanity and which totalitarianism sought to destroy.

Finally, Bernstein takes up Arendt's concern with the phenomenon of the banality of evil. He follows her use of Eichmann in order to explore how the failure to think and to judge is the key for grasping this new phenomenon.

Hannah Arendt and the Jewish Question offers a new interpretation of Arendt and her work - one which situates her in her historical context as an engaged Jewish intellectual. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on April 22, 2006
Format: Paperback
Richard A. Bernstein traces Hannah Arendt's relationship to her own Jewishness, from her earliest experiences of Anti- Semitism in childhood to and through the 'banality of evil' controversy. He shows that certain fundamental concepts of her thought were strongly influenced by her experience as a stateless Jew.He details the story of her special connection with Kurt Blumenfeld and the thought of Charles Lazare which helped form her Zionism.

Her latter- day critique of Israel is considered as her passionate admission that the one public tragedy she could not think to bear would be the destruction of Israel.

As to her controversy with the Jewish community on the 'banality of evil'. My own sense is that Bernstein is a bit too sympathetic to her position, and that Scholem was essentially right in speaking of Arendt's distance from the ordinary Jewish people. Her insensitivity, even moral cruelty to the victims of the Shoah, is a black mark on her record, a record which includes a heroic chapter in her years in France helping foster Youth Aliyah, and saving Jewish children.

The story is complicated and always interesting. This is a deep study but a political thinker who understands Arendt well.
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