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Responsibility and Judgment Paperback – August 9, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Arendt (1906-1975), among the last century's most eminent political philosophers, never lived to complete the final volume of her comprehensive tome The Life of the Mind, entitled "Judging." This first volume in a new series of her unpublished works, comprising a delightful constellation of articles and essays taken from class and public lectures, centers on that unfinished project's theme. The book begins with a piece addressing the controversy around Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem, re-examining the arguments regarding the "banality of evil" and responding to criticisms and misinterpretations with a delicate exploration of the imperative "It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong." Arendt often quotes Faulkner's aphorism "The past is never dead, it is not even past," and in other pieces here, her highly original ideas about what constitutes justice yield seemingly paradoxical answers to vexing questions. The section on racial integration, "Little Rock," while arguing against Brown v. Board of Education, makes a parallel case for equality in marriage that speaks to current debates about same-sex marriage and the recent establishment of an independent Muslim school in France. "Responsibility under Dictatorship" and "Coming Home to Roost" will speak to a certain audience about the current political climate, while the chapters on morality are very erudite works on the role of ethical concepts in the history of philosophy that will feed an already ravenous secondary literature market on Arendt. More than anything else, the work's commitment to forthright thinking as a primary political duty, and its lucidity on dangers and deferral of responsibility inherent in received opinion, ensures its relevance to any representative democracy.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“With Eichmann in Jerusalem Hannah Arendt wrote the 20th century's most important - and controversial - work on the problem of evil, and the least understood. The publication of Responsibility and Judgment is thus a particularly welcome event. For readers who know Arendt, the autobiographical reflections or the discussions of personal responsibility under dictatorship will be of great interest in understanding the background of Eichmann in Jerusalem or The Life of the Mind. For readers who don't, essays such as "Auschwitz on Trial" will provide a superb introduction to her views - and a chance to probe, without hearsay or slander, one of the great thinkers of our time.”
-- Susan Neiman, author of Evil in Modern Thought: An Alternative History of Modern Philosophy



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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Schocken; Reprint edition (August 9, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805211624
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805211627
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #297,860 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.

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Format: Paperback
Responsibility And Judgment is a collection of previously unpublished writings from the last decade of the life of editor and World War II survivor Hannah Arendt (1906-1975). Chapters wrestle with complex moral issues and philosophical questions both in general and in relation to specific events such as judicial trials of World War II criminals and the repercussions that America's failed war effort in Vietnam had on the nation's policies and psyche. Written in clear, no-nonsense terms, Responsibility And Judgment is as accessible to lay readers as it is to philosophers, and offers its insights free from the constraints of political ideology. Highly recommended.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Alexandros Gezerlis on November 4, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Given that none of the editorial reviews on this page contain a table of contents, I decided it may be wise to copy it here:

Introduction by Jerome Kohn
A Note on the Text
Prologue
I. RESPONSIBILITY
Personal Responsibility Under Dictatorship
Some Questions of Moral Philosophy
Collective Responsibility
Thinking and Moral Considerations
II. JUDGMENT
Reflections on Little Rock
The Deputy: Guilt by Silence?
Auschwitz on Trial
Home to Roost

The first part deals with somewhat abstract questions, whereas the second is an application of Hannah Arendt's moral and more generally philosophical considerations to real-world situations. The fundamental text contained in this volume is "Some Questions of Moral Philosophy", which is based on four lectures Arendt gave in 1965. In it, Arendt deals with Socrates, Immanuel Kant, Paul of Tarsus, Augustine of Hippo, and Friedrich Nietzsche while discussing thinking, willing and judging. Also of note is Arendt's examination of Dr. Franz Lucas's case (described in "Auschwitz on Trial"). In a nutshell, this is a very interesting, though somewhat mixed and slightly repetitive, collection of essays, speeches, and lectures by a significant Selbstdenker.

Alexandros Gezerlis
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By dizzy dean on March 31, 2009
Format: Paperback
What would you do under a dictatorship? Arendt poses this question for all of us in her collection of essays dealing with the relationship between the individual and the state--in particular, what can the individual do in a system that is evil. Similar to a number of writers in circumstances not unlike her own (Remarque, Silone, Bonhoeffer) she argues that we each have the capability to retain our own sense of goodness and avoid the "banality of evil" she found with Eichmann.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Philip Sim on January 29, 2007
Format: Paperback
Hannah Arendt has always been one of my favourite writers. This volume collecting her works does not disappoint.

However, do not expect the same incisive and indepth look into the pressing ethical issues here. This is not the fault of Hannah Arendt. This is afterall a collection of bits and pieces of her works, put together not necessarily in a coherent way.

Nonetheless, this book is worth a read, particularly as it condenses and crystalises some of the thoughts contained in her other, longer, and more difficult to read books. Next to her "Men in Dark Times", I would recommend this book as a good place for those unfamiliar with Hannah Arendt to begin.

However, do ignore the introduction by Jerome Kohn, which is rather a rather incoherent, bitter, and ranting little piece of work, attributing to Hannah Arendt thoughts and opinions that might or might not have been hers. It is better for the reader to judge for himself or herself as to what Hannah Arendt meant to say, and not left a lesser mind to colour the reader's perceptions.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Smith VINE VOICE on June 6, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'd imagine that every political philosopher knows of Hannah Arendt. Born in Germany in 1906, she moved to France and eventually the USA after Hitler's rise to power. She has written numerous books over 3 1/2 decades and she has taught at places like Princeton, Chicago, and Berkeley. She struggles with and argues ultimately against responsibility of many of the common German people who went with the flow or just followed orders. Responsibility must be focused upon those who had authority and committed atrocities - the so called desk top murderers, like Eichmann and Himmler. She questions how we can set ourselves up to place judgment upon these individuals responsible, in part, for such horrific crimes. Included in this text is her presentation on American responsibility for Vietnam and the uprising of individuals against a war of questionable justice ultimately. She's a brilliant speaker and writer, very heavily influenced by the Kantian school. While the vast majority of this text is very readable, there are a few passages that I had to re-read - "did she really say that?" or "what ...". Since Theory of Justice was published, it sort of makes these books obsolete, but, they are, nevertheless, worth while reading for background. I give this text a solid A. It comes highly recommended.
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