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Arendt, Hannah (1906–75)

DOI: 10.4324/9780415249126-DD004-1
Version: v1,  Published online: 1998
Retrieved June 22, 2024, from

Article Summary

Hannah Arendt was one of the leading political thinkers of the twentieth century. She observed Nazi totalitarianism at close quarters and devoted much of her life to making sense of it. In her view it mobilized the atomized masses around a simple-minded ideology, and devised a form of rule in which bureaucratically minded officials performed murderous deeds with a clear conscience. For Arendt the only way to avoid totalitarianism was to establish a well-ordered political community that encouraged public participation and institutionalized political freedom. She considered politics to be one of the highest human activities because it enabled citizens to reflect on their collective life, to give meaning to their personal lives and to develop a creative and cohesive community. She was deeply worried that the economically obsessed modern age discouraged political activity, and created morally superficial people susceptible to the appeal of mindless adventurism.

Citing this article:
Parekh, B.. Arendt, Hannah (1906–75), 1998, doi:10.4324/9780415249126-DD004-1. Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Taylor and Francis,
Copyright © 1998-2024 Routledge.

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