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Thursday, March 15, 2007

Arendt, again...

This morning I listened to a podcast of last week's Open Source discussion on Hannah Arendt. While host Christopher Lydon remains an annoying (though functionally prodding) presence (at the end you get the impression that both he and his guests are aware that he just isn't getting it), the hour is worth a listen. (There is also the bonus of a link to the audio of a 1968 lecture by Arendt at Bard College; also here for Q&A that followed.)

The guests are Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Arendt's best know biographer (see here and here) and Jerome Kohn, the executor of her papers (which are still coming out; see here and here and here; also see here for his essay on Arendt's views on evil), and despite awkward moments of dealing with Lydon they do a terrific job getting across many of her basic views and ideas (also see here). Although the "banality of evil" is central to the initial discussion, the elaboration of Arendt's distinction between power and violence -- and what her views might be on the current state of world affairs under US hegemony (they suggest a reading of the essays published in her Crises of the Republic collection) -- ends the program.

Lydon is planning a follow-up show to deal more explicitly with the issues surrounding the human capacity for so-called evil (see my own thoughts on this here).

As it happens, these shows (and others scheduled in light of Arendt's centennial) complement my current reading of Richard Sennett's Respect in a World of Inequality. Sennett, also a one time student of Arendt, provides an interesting extension of the Arendtian view of life in the public sphere and I am finding the work a faster read than the Corrosion of Character. In part this is due to his wonderful use of an autobiographical narrative in which the reflections on his experiences are tied to the ideas central to the book. I will blog more about this....

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Comments on "Arendt, again..."


Anonymous Ciarán said ... (6:30 PM) : 

It's a complete pain. My weekly four-hours-on-a-train used to be a wonderful opportunity for email and www-free work.

And then came podcasts.

This one will get me from Belfast to Dublin tomorrow for St. Patrick's weekend and Swedish Jazz concerts!

Have a good weekend yourself!h


Blogger Mel said ... (9:37 PM) : 

Enjoy! We, of course, will be having a white St Patrick's Day as major storm heads into Boston -- where all the major celebrants tend to be....


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