Holes of Oblivion: The Banality of Radical Evil

Hypatia 18 (1):80-103 (2003)
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This essay offers a reflection on Arendt's notion of radical evil, arguing that her later understanding of the banality of evil is already at work in her earlier reflections on the nature of radical evil as banal, and furthermore, that Arendt's understanding of the “banality of radical evil” has its source in the very event that offers a possible remedy to it, namely, the event of natality. Kristeva's recent work on Arendt is important to this proposal insofar as her notion of “abjection” illuminates Arendt's claim that understanding the superfluousness of the modem human being is inseparable from grasping the emergence of radical evil. In the final part of the essay, I argue that Arendt's “politics of natality” emerges from out of these two inseparable moments of the event of natality, offering the only possible remedy to the threat of radical evil by modifying our relationship to temporality.



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Peg Birmingham
DePaul University

Citations of this work

Is radical evil banal? Is banal evil radical?Paul Formosa - 2007 - Philosophy and Social Criticism 33 (6):717-735.
Hannah Arendt, evil, and political resistance.Gavin Rae - 2019 - History of the Human Sciences 32 (3):125-144.
Of Evil and Other Figures of the Liminal.Leonhard Praeg - 2010 - Theory, Culture and Society 27 (5):107-134.

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References found in this work

Critique of Practical Reason.Immanuel Kant (ed.) - 1788 - New York,: Hackett Publishing Company.
Between past and future.Hannah Arendt - 1961 - New York,: Viking Press.
The life of the mind.Hannah Arendt - 1981 - New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection.Julia Kristeva - 1984 - Columbia University Press.
Critique of Practical Reason.T. D. Weldon, Immanuel Kant & Lewis White Beck - 1949 - Philosophical Review 58 (6):625.

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