Thinking Itself is Dangerous: Reading Hannah Arendt Now
March 19 @ 7:00 pm - 8:30 pm
Photo credit: Betty Winge/Waterloo Centre for German Studies
What can Hannah Arendt’s life and work teach us about our present political moment? Arendt scholar Samantha Rose Hill will talk about the renewed interest in Hannah Arendt’s work, and why we should be reading Arendt now to better understand the politics of today.
In the wake of Donald Trump’s presidency, and the rise of illiberalism world-wide, many have turned to the work of Hannah Arendt, a twentieth-century German Jewish political thinker, to understand our contemporary political moment. Since 2016, Arendt’s 1951 The Origins of Totalitarianism has been selling at record numbers. Nearly 600 pages long, Origins distils the various elements of totalitarianism, like the collapse between truth and fiction, the breakdown of the rule of law, the privatization of public goods, the decline of the nation-state, the rise of mass homelessness, rootlessness, loneliness, and the need for solitude.
How can Arendt’s work in Origins and one of her other masterpieces, The Human Condition from 1958, help us understand our contemporary political moment? How have our political conditions changed in the 21st century? How has digital media technology transformed social relations? Is it possible to stop and think about what we are doing today? Hannah Arendt’s work is not a roadmap into the future, but it can help us orient ourselves to the present political crises and, perhaps in the process, teach us to love the world.
This event is presented in cooperation with the departments of Philosophy and Germanic & Slavic Studies at the University of Waterloo, and the Balsillie School of International Affairs.