“Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction.” Arendt sets plurality as the foundation of her understanding of man as a political being. According to plurality, we are all equal, which means we can understand each other and those ancestors who came before us and those will come after us. And yet, as distinct, we need to seek to make ourselves understood.
Hannah Arendt worried greatly about the rise of science. She took Niels Bohr seriously when he argued that “causality, determinism, and necessity of laws belonged to the categories of ‘our necessarily prejudiced conceptual frame’.” The new physics “defies description in terms of the ‘prejudices’ of the human mind[and] defies description in every conceivable way of human language.” Which is one reason why Albert Einstein...
In March, 2017, I published an essay “Why Arendt Matters” about the newly inaugurated President Trump. I wrote that, “Common sense insists that we not abandon reality and imagine that the United States is experiencing totalitarianism.” I argued that while the President was leading a mass movement, and that while mass movements are at the core of totalitarian domination, it is also the case that not all mass movements are totalitarian.
It has become common sense that President Trump lies. Once again there are countless articles and Twitter feeds and video compilations showing that the President has lied, stated falsehoods, and denied having said what he said. And yet through it all, the President’s popularity rating is soaring.
Adolf Eichmann was a Nazi Higher SS officer and member of the Gestapo during the Second World War. When the Final Solution of the Jewish Problem was adopted as German policy at the Wannsee Conference in January 1942, it became Eichmann’s job to organize the destruction of millions of Jews.