“Arendt’s Radical Good and the Banality of Evil: Echoes of Scholem and Jaspers in Margarethe von Trotta’s Hannah Arendt.”

Corresponding lecture posted at Vimeo.


Continental Philosophy | Ethics and Political Philosophy | Film and Media Studies | German Language and Literature | Philosophy


Margarethe von Trotta's 2012 film Hannah Arendt suggests that for Arendt the signal problem with Adolf Eichmann had to do with a lack of thinking (the same problem Martin Heidegger diagnoses repeatedly in his book What is Called Thinking). For Heidegger, we are "still" not thinking. For Arendt, what is characteristic of Eichmann is that he does not think, meaning that he does not think as Aristotle defines thinking, namely as characteristic of the human qua human, here conceiving thinking as an inherently philosophical project that is more than practical but always contemplative (i.e., thinking about thinking). Is Eichmann monstrously evil, as many commentators are keen to insist—or does his all-too-typically unthinking nature attest instead, as Arendt observed, to the banality of evil? Karl Jaspers and Arendt would go beyond the lonely business of thought (as Heidegger spoke of the thinker) to argue that whatever thinking can be, it is inherently political and can only be done with other human beings in community or as both Arendt and Jaspers spoke of the formation of a world.

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Vol.9-2 Existenz Babich.pdf (500 kB)
Arendt’s Radical Good and the Banality of Evil



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