Hannah Arendt

Linden, 1906 – New York, 1975

"The greater part of political philosophy since Plato could easily be interpreted as various attempts to find theoretical foundations and practical ways for an escape from politics altogether."

Hannah Arendt died in New York in December 1975. A political theorist, she was born into a German-Jewish family and was deeply influenced by two events which decisively shaped the development of her thought and character. The first one was “the philosophic shock”: her contact with existential philosophy through the teachings of Heidegger, Bultmann and Jaspers during her student years in the 1920s. The second one was the “shock of reality”: the consolidation of Nazism. She became one of the many stateless people who immigrated to Paris when she was forced to leave Germany in 1933; with the outbreak of World War II, she sought a safer place to live in. She arrived in the USA in 1941, where she lived until the end of her life. It could be said that her experience as a refugee taught her the importance of contingency in human history. In fact, all her work could be regarded as related to this idea.

Arendt did not concern herself with being systematic. As such, her thought results from the desire to understand the events she was forced to live in and survive, among which, those of totalitarianism. This is why we find in her a determined will to rethink the specificity of politics from her own distinctive perspective, in which we find her firmly distanced from the tradition of philosophy, a tradition which has always looked at contingency and plurality as accidents that need solving, instead of understanding them as the human condition in politics.

Her thought is articulated by categories such as totalitarianism, the loss of the world, natality, political freedom, revolution, political responsibility or extreme evil, all of them derived from her determination to allow the events of her time to question her.

Selected Works

1951, The Origins of Totalitarianism, New York: Schocken Books.

1958, The Human Condition, Chicago: Chicago University Press.

1963, Eichmann in Jerusalem. A Report on the Banality of Evil, New York: Viking Press.

1978, The Life of the Mind, New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

2014, Más allá de la filosofía. Escritos sobre cultura, arte y literatura, Birulés, F. & Fuster, À. L. (eds.) (trans. Ernesto Rubio, Madrid: Trotta).

Secondary Literature

BIRULÉS, Fina, 2007, Una herencia sin testamento, Barcelona: Herder.

CANOVAN, Margaret, 1992, Hannah Arendt. A Reinterpretation of Her Political Thought, Glasgow: Cambridge University Press.

DISCH, Lisa, 1994, Hannah Arendt and the Limits of Philosophy, New York: Cornell University Press.

FANTAUZZI, Stefania, 2011, “Violencia. Il ruolo della violenza nel pensiero di Hannah Arendt“, Taula: quaderns de pensament, vol. 43.

FORTI, Simona (ed.), 2004, La filosofia di fronte all’estremo. Totalitarismo e riflessione filosofica, Turin: Einaudi.

FUSTER, À. Lorena y SIRCZUK, Matías (eds.), 2017, Hannah Arendt, Buenos Aires: Katz.

LEIBOVICI, Martine y ROVIELLO, Anne-Marie, 2017, Le pervertissement totalitaire. La banalité du mal selon Hannah Arendt, Paris: Kimé eds.

STRAEHLE, Edgar W., 2017, “De parques, plazas y oasis: una exploración de los espacios políticos en Hannah Arendt“, Las Torres de Lucca: revista internacional de filosofía política, nº 10.