Kierkegaard, Hannah Arendt and the Advent of the “Hollow Men” or towards a Kierkegaardian Reading of Eichmann in Jerusalem

Kierkegaard Studies Yearbook 19 (1):301-328 (2014)
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Hannah Arendt realized through her confrontation with Eichmann in Jerusalem that totalitarian regimes and, in a more general sense, modernity promote “thoughtlessness,” understood as the inability to think from an ethical point of view. As such, I argue that Eichmann’s figure is entirely comprehensible from a Kierkegaardian perspective, inasmuch as Kierkegaard had already comprehended in the mid-nineteenth century that modernity was accountable for the fomenting of “nobodies” characterized precisely by “thoughtlessness.” In this sense, my article seeks to promote an approximation between Kierkegaard’s and Arendt’s works (with special reference to Eichmann in Jerusalem) with the intention of discussing the centrality of the Socratic-Augustinian notions of “conscience” and “individuality” in their conceptions of ethics and politics. In sum, I argue that what links both Kierkegaard’s and Arendt’s thought is a form of “Socratic citizenship.”



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