From radical to banal evil: Hannah Arendt against the justification of the unjustifiable

International Journal of Philosophical Studies 12 (2):129-158 (2004)
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Two central strands in Arendt's thought are the reflection on the evil of Auschwitz and the rethinking in terms of politics of Heidegger's critique of metaphysics. Given Heidegger's taciturnity regarding Auschwitz and Arendt's own taciturnity regarding the philosophical implications of Heidegger's political engagement in 1933, to set out how these strands interrelate is to examine the coherence of Arendt's thought and its potential for a critique of Heidegger. By refusing to countenance a theological conception of the evil of Auschwitz, Arendt consolidates the break with theology that Heidegger attempts through his analysis of the essential finitude of Dasein. In the light of Arendt's account of evil, it is possible to see the theological vestiges in Heidegger's ontology. Heidegger's resumption of the question concerning the categorical interconnections of the ways of Being entails an abandonment of finitude: he accommodates and tacitly justifies that which can have no human justification.



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James Phillips
Yale University

Citations of this work

Hannah Arendt, evil, and political resistance.Gavin Rae - 2019 - History of the Human Sciences 32 (3):125-144.

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On the Essence of Truth.Martin Heidegger - 1998 - New Yearbook for Phenomenology and Phenomenological Philosophy 9:274-287.

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