Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was a German political theorist who, over the course of many books, explored themes such as violence, revolution, and evil. Her major works include The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, and the controversial Eichmann in Jerusalem, in which she coined the phrase “the banality of evil.”

IN THE REVIEW

Reflections on Violence

Hannah Arendt, New York City, 1944
Violence, being instrumental by nature, is rational to the extent that it is effective in reaching the end which must justify it. And since when we act we never know with any amount of certainty the eventual consequences of what we are doing, violence can remain rational only if it pursues short-term goals. Violence does not promote causes, it promotes neither History nor Revolution, but it can indeed serve to dramatize grievances and to bring them to public attention.

Hannah Arendt: From an Interview

Hannah Arendt made the comments that follow in 1974 during an interview with the French writer Roger Errera. TOTALITARIANISM Totalitarianism begins in contempt for what you have. The second step is the notion: “Things must change—no matter how, Anything is better than what we have.” Totalitarian rulers organize this kind …

Home to Roost: A Bicentennial Address

The crises of the Republic, of this form of government and its institutions of liberty, could be detected for decades, ever since what appears to us today as a minicrisis was triggered by Joe McCarthy. A number of occurrences followed which testified to an increasing disarray in the very foundations …

Martin Heidegger at Eighty

Martin Heidegger’s eightieth birthday was also the fiftieth anniversary of his public life, which he began not as an author—though he had already published a book on Duns Scotus—but as a university teacher. In barely three or four years since that first solid and interesting but still rather conventional study, …