Hannah Arendt: Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil


25/01/2020 (Saturday)

2.00 - 5.00 pm

The Adelaide

A Saturday School presented by Hannah Marije Altorf, Reader in Philosophy at St. Mary’s University

The Eichmann-trial (1961) was one of the most significant trials of the twentieth century. It attracted journalists, writers and thinkers from around the world. One of them was Hannah Arendt and it is her ‘report’, Eichmann in Jerusalem, that in the end overshadowed the trial. Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963/65) was controversial when it was published and it is controversial still, though not necessarily for the exact same reasons. It has been considered one of the most important books of moral philosophy of the twentieth century, but it has also been criticised for being sloppy history.

This Saturday afternoon offers the opportunity to reconsider the book. Participants are encouraged to read the work in advance, but this is not necessary as excerpts will be provided. We will consider the historical background, its place in Arendt’s oeuvre and some of the controversies. First and foremost we will ask whether the book is a work of moral philosophy. Important concepts to be discussed are the notion of evil, the relevance of duty, imagination and judgment, the significance of facts and of storytelling, of thinking and of consciousness.