Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt (hän´ä är´ənt), 1906–75, German-American political theorist, b. Hanover, Germany, B.A. Königsberg, 1924, Ph.D. Heidelberg, 1928. In 1925 she met Martin Heidegger, who greatly influenced her thought and who became both her teacher and briefly her lover. Later, in Heidelberg, she became a student of Karl Jaspers, another important influence. A Jew, Arendt fled Germany in 1933, immigrated (1941) to the United States, lived in New York City, and was naturalized in 1950.

As her English improved, Arendt became a regular contributor of articles to leading American journals. Her wartime essays have been collected in The Jewish Writings (2008). Also a successful academic, she became a lecturer and Guggenheim fellow, 1952–53; visiting professor at the Univ. of California at Berkeley, 1955; the first woman appointed to a full professorship at Princeton, 1959; and visiting professor of government at Columbia, 1960. From 1963 to 1967 she was professor at the Univ. of Chicago, and in 1967 she became university professor at the New School for Social Research.

With the publication of Origins of Totalitarianism (1951) her status as a major political thinker was firmly established. In this book she examined the major forms of 20th-century totalitarianism—National Socialism (Nazism) and Communism—and attempted to trace their origins in the anti-Semitism and imperialism of the 19th cent. Her second major American publication, The Human Condition (1958), likewise received wide acclaim. Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963), her analysis of the Nazi war crimes based on observation of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, stirred considerable controversy and became known particularly for her concept of "the banality of evil." She also posited that Eichmann suffered from an "inability to think" and did not really understand Naziism, ideas that have been disputed by several later scholars.

Arendt also served as research director of the Conference on Jewish Relations (1944–46) and executive director of Jewish Cultural Reconstruction, New York City (1949–52). Her other writings include On Revolution (1963), Men in Dark Times (1968), On Violence (1969), and Crises of the Republic (1972).

See L. Kohler and H. Saner, ed., Hannah Arendt–Karl Jaspers: Correspondence, 1926–1969 (tr. by R. and R. Kimber, 1992), C. Brightman, ed., Between Friends: The Correspondence of Hannah Arendt and Mary McCarthy, 1949–1975 (1995), and U. Ludtz, ed., Letters, 1925–1975: Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger (2003); biographies by E. Young-Bruehl (1982) and M.-I. Brudny (2008); E. Ettinger, Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger (1995), D. Villa, Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political (1995), and R. Wolin, Heidegger's Children (2001); studies by S. J. Whitfield (1980), L. Bradshaw (1989), and H. F. Pitkin (1998); B. Stangneth, Eichmann before Jerusalem (2011, tr. 2014); A. Ushpiz, dir., Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt (documentary, 2016).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Hannah Arendt: Selected full-text books and articles

Hannah Arendt By Simon Swift Routledge, 2009
Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics By Roger Berkowitz; Jeffrey Katz; Thomas Keenan Fordham University Press, 2010
Hannah Arendt's Eichmann Reconsidered By Schotten, Peter Modern Age, Vol. 49, No. 2, Spring 2007
Hannah Arendt: A Question of Character By Curthoys, Ned New Formations, No. 71, Spring 2011
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Hannah Arendt and the Negro Question By Kathryn T. Gines Indiana University Press, 2014
Arendt and Adorno: Political and Philosophical Investigations By Lars Rensmann; Samir Gandesha Stanford University Press, 2012
The Hidden Philosophy of Hannah Arendt By Margaret Betz Hull Routledge Curzon, 2002
Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt By Bonnie Honig Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995
Hannah Arendt: Critical Essays By Lewis P. Hinchman; Sandra K. Hinchman State University of New York Press, 1994
Passion and Paradox: Intellectuals Confront the National Question By Joan Cocks Princeton University Press, 2002
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Imperialism, Self-Determination, and Violence: Rosa Luxemburg, Hannah Arendt, and Frantz Fanon" and Chap. Three "On the Jewish Question: Isaiah Berlin and Hannah Arendt"
Social Theory after the Holocaust By Robert Fine; Charles Turner Liverpool University Press, 2000
Librarian's tip: Chap. 2 "Hannah Arendt: Politics and Understanding after the Holocaust"
The Political Classics: Green to Dworkin By Murray Forsyth; Maurice Keens-Soper Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian's tip: Chap. 7 "Hannah Arendt: The Human Condition"
Looking for a topic idea? Use Questia's Topic Generator
Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.