HANNAH ARENDT QUOTES II

German-American political theorist (1906-1975)

Men always want to be terribly influential, but I see that as somewhat external. Do I imagine myself being influential? No. I want to understand. And if others understand--in the same sense that I have understood--that gives me a sense of satisfaction, like feeling at home.

HANNAH ARENDT, interview, ZDF TV, Zur Person, Oct. 28, 1964

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The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

HANNAH ARENDT, "On Violence", Crises of the Republic

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Tags: war


I know exactly what I want to write. I do not write until I do. Usually I write it all down only once. And that goes relatively quickly, since it really depends only on how fast I type.

HANNAH ARENDT, interview, ZDF TV, Zur Person, Oct. 28, 1964

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Tags: writing


Political questions are far too serious to be left to the politicians.

HANNAH ARENDT, Men in Dark Times

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Tags: politics


As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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It is, in fact, far easier to act under conditions of tyranny than it is to think.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Human Condition

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Tags: tyranny


If it is true ... that no one has a life worth thinking about whose life story cannot be told, does it not then follow that life could be, even ought to be, lived as a story, that what one has to do in life is to make the story come true?

HANNAH ARENDT, Men in Dark Times

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It was mathematics, the non-empirical science par excellence, wherein the mind appears to play only with itself, that turned out to be the science of sciences, delivering the key to those laws of nature and the universe that are concealed by appearances.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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Tags: math


You think that you can judge what's good or evil from whether you enjoy doing it or not. You think that evil is what always appears in the form of a temptation, while good is what you never spontaneously want to do. I think this is all total rubbish, if you don't mind my saying so.

HANNAH ARENDT, interview, SWR TV, Das Thema, Nov. 9, 1964

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Tags: evil


Nihilism is but the other side of conventionalism; its creed consists of negations of the current so-called positive values, to which it remains bound.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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He who seriously wants to create a new political order through education, that is, neither through force and constraint nor through persuasion, must draw the dreadful Platonic conclusion: the banishment of all older people from the state that is to be founded. But even the children one wishes to educate to be citizens of a utopian morrow are actually denied their own future role in the body politic, for, from the standpoint of the new ones, whatever new the adult world may propose is necessarily older than they themselves. It is in the very nature of the human condition that each new generation grows into an old world, so that to prepare a new generation for a new world can only mean that one wishes to strike from the newcomers' hands their own chance at the new.

HANNAH ARENDT, Between Past and Future

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Just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody, "Thou shalt not kill," even though man's natural desires and inclinations may at times be murderous, so the law of Hitler's land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody: "Thou shalt kill," although the organizers of the massacres knew full well that murder is against the normal desires and inclinations of most people. Evil in the Third Reich had lost the quality by which most people recognize it -- the quality of temptation.

HANNAH ARENDT, Eichmann in Jerusalem

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Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Human Condition

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Tags: love


What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

HANNAH ARENDT, On Revolution

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Tags: hypocrisy


The emotions I feel are no more meant to be shown in their unadulterated state than the inner organs by which we live.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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Tags: emotion


The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.

HANNAH ARENDT, "Thinking", The Life of the Mind

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Cliches, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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Revolutionaries do not make revolutions! The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and when they can pick it up.

HANNAH ARENDT, "Thoughts on Politics and Revolution: A Commentary", Crises of the Republic

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Tags: revolution


If ... the ability to tell right from wrong should turn out to have anything to do with the ability to think, then we must be able to "demand" its exercise from every sane person, no matter how erudite or ignorant, intelligent or stupid, he may happen to be.

HANNAH ARENDT, The Life of the Mind

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The point, as Marx saw it, is that dreams never come true.

HANNAH ARENDT, "On Violence", Crises of the Republic

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Tags: Karl Marx, dreams