The German Jewish moral and political philosopher Hannah Arendt, a refugee from Nazi Germany living in New York, travelled to Jerusalem in 1961 to observe the trial of Adolf Eichmann, one of the key planners of the Holocaust. Eichmann's defence - that he was only following orders - led her to formulate the now-famous concept of the 'banality of evil', recognizing the lack of a correlation between the enormity of the crime of genocide and the seemingly shallow nature of the man himself, for whom Simon Wiesenthal coined the term 'desk murderer'. In her book Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (originally serialized in the New Yorker), Arendt also reflected on the role of the Jewish leadership: 'if the Jewish people had really been disorganized and leaderless, there would have been chaos and plenty of misery but the total number of victims would hardly have been between four and a half and six million people.' Perhaps not surprisingly, this sentence proved enormously controversial: Arendt was labelled a 'self-hating Jew' and lost some of her closest friends. In this fascinating and immensely readable book, Marie Luise Knott explores Arendt's life and work, focusing on the themes of laughter, translation, forgiveness, and dramatization. Unlearning with Hannah Arendt explores the ways in which Arendt 'unlearned' philosophical and cultural concepts to establish a new theoretical praxis. Through an analysis of her social context and intellectual and emotional influences - Karl Jaspers, Walter Benjamin, and her former lover, the philosopher Martin Heidegger, who remained in Nazi Germany - Knott has created a historically engaged and incisive contribution to Arendt's legacy.
Publisher: Granta Books
Number of pages: 192
Weight: 291 g
Dimensions: 222 x 143 x 16 mm
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