RESPONSIBILITY AND JUDGMENT

Hannah Arendt, Author , edited by Jerome Kohn. Schocken $25 (336p) ISBN 978-0-8052-4212-6

Arendt (1906–1975), among the last century's most eminent political philosophers, never lived to complete the final volume of her comprehensive tome The Life of the Mind , entitled "Judging." This first volume in a new series of her unpublished works, comprising a delightful constellation of articles and essays taken from class and public lectures, centers on that unfinished project's theme. The book begins with a piece addressing the controversy around Arendt's Eichmann in Jerusalem , re-examining the arguments regarding the "banality of evil" and responding to criticisms and misinterpretations with a delicate exploration of the imperative "It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong." Arendt often quotes Faulkner's aphorism "The past is never dead, it is not even past," and in other pieces here, her highly original ideas about what constitutes justice yield seemingly paradoxical answers to vexing questions. The section on racial integration, "Little Rock," while arguing against Brown v. Board of Education , makes a parallel case for equality in marriage that speaks to current debates about same-sex marriage and the recent establishment of an independent Muslim school in France. "Responsibility under Dictatorship" and "Coming Home to Roost" will speak to a certain audience about the current political climate, while the chapters on morality are very erudite works on the role of ethical concepts in the history of philosophy that will feed an already ravenous secondary literature market on Arendt. More than anything else, the work's commitment to forthright thinking as a primary political duty, and its lucidity on dangers and deferral of responsibility inherent in received opinion, ensures its relevance to any representative democracy. (Nov. 18)

Reviewed on: 11/03/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 180 pages - 978-0-307-54405-6
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-8052-1162-7
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