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Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics 1st Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0823230761
ISBN-10: 0823230767
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Artfully balancing conceptual precision and editorial care with a deep sense of urgency, this volume of essays on one of the 20th century's great theorists of totalitarianism and anti-Semitism offers a stimulating examination of Arendt's political and philosophical writings. The pieces analyze the sociopolitical ramifications of her life as well as more focused discussions of key topics in the social and the political realms. Cathy Caruth offers an exemplary reading of the relationship between the Pentagon Papers and Arendt's notion of the modern political lie that attempts not simply to cover over mistakes but to replace reality entirely by fabricating new histories. Uday Mehta gives a fascinating outline of Arendt's views on politics and terror, while Christopher Hitchens offers some brief, idiosyncratic reflections on anti-Semitism. Contributors return repeatedly to Arendt's 1963 coverage of the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann. The essays lack a consensus on Arendt's notion of the banality of evil, but it is precisely the rich variety of interpretations together with a wonderful selection of images from her personal library that make the collection so compelling. (Jan.)
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Review


"A fascinating tribute to a fascinating writer."-Gautam Chikerman


"Artfully balancing conceptual precision and editorial care with a deep sense of urgency, this volume of essays on one of the 20th century's great theorists of totalitarianism and anti-Semitism offers a stimulating examination of Arendt's political and philosophical writings. The pieces analyze the sociopolitical ramifications of her life as well as more focused discussions of key topics in the social and the political realms. . .The essays lack a consensus on Arendt's notion of the 'banality of evil' but it is precisely the rich variety of interpretations together with a wonderful selection of images from her personal library that make the collection so compelling."-Publishers Weekly


"A collection of papers from a conference convened at Bard College to mark Arendt's hundreth birthday."--Harper's Magazine


"This book focuses on how, against the professionalized discourses of theory, Hannah Arendt insists on the greater political importance of the ordinary activity of thinking. Indeed, she argues that the activity of thinking is the only reliable protection against the horrors that buffeted the last century. These essays explore and enact that activity, which Arendt calls
the habit of erecting obstacles to oversimplifications, compromises, and conventions."--Shofar


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press; 1 edition (December 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0823230767
  • ISBN-13: 978-0823230761
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 0.7 x 7.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,643,279 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
The very title of this book summarizes its essence. Thinking in the spirit of Hannah Arendt is the task of this collection of essays, which confront the darkness that clouds ethics and politics in our times. Darkness for Arendt, as Roger Berkowitz explains in the introduction, does not refer to the atrocities, horrors, and challenges that the world has faced during the 20th Century, but the way in which these urgent and viral problems have been trivialized in the public sphere, how mere chatting obscures and hides their threat to our humanity. This darkness that clouds the public sphere is evident today, when economic and environmental disasters, and the calamities of war are concealed rather than revealed in vapid public debates in the mass media.

The book also discusses thinking, which is vital to understanding Arendt's philosophy. Thinking for Arendt is a particular activity -- one that she places on the highest pedestal. As Berkowitz notes, for Arendt "the only reliable source of light in these dark times is found in the activity of thinking" (p.5). While many philosophers and political thinkers encourage us to reason, Arendt draws on Heidegger, who in the What is Called Thinking (Was Heisst Denken), insightfully notes that in every epoch there are always thought provoking matters that provoke our thinking. However, he also insisted that the most thought provoking fact of his time was that people were not thinking. This reality of people thinking less and less still haunts us today. Arendt praises thinking above all, and not reason, because she argues that some of the most horrific crimes against humanity are done in the name of reason.
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This remarkable volume of essays on a theme developed by Arendt is important reading today in our dark times. I also recommend Eichmann in Jerusalem, the book that identified "the banality of evil".
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