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Quotes of the day: Hannah Arendt

Published Thursday, December 03, 2015 @ 4:04 PM EST
Dec 03 2015

Johanna "Hannah" Arendt (October 14, 1906 – December 4, 1975) was a German-born American political theorist. Though often described as a philosopher, she rejected that label on the grounds that philosophy is concerned with "man in the singular" and instead described herself as a political theorist because her work centers on the fact that "men, not Man, live on the earth and inhabit the world." An assimilated Jew, she escaped Europe during the Holocaust and became an American citizen. Her works deal with the nature of power, and the subjects of politics, direct democracy, authority, and totalitarianism. The Hannah Arendt Prize is named in her honor. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


Action without a name, a who attached to it, is meaningless.

And the distinction between violent and non-violent action is that the former is exclusively bent upon the destruction of the old, and the latter is chiefly concerned with the establishment of something new.

Dedicate yourself to the good you deserve and desire for yourself. Give yourself peace of mind. You deserve to be happy. You deserve delight.

Economic growth may one day turn out to be a curse rather than a good, and under no conditions can it either lead into freedom or constitute a proof for its existence.

Every generation, Western civilization is invaded by barbarians; we call them 'children.'

Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.

Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power.

Have we now come to the point where it is the children who are being asked to change or improve the world?

In an ever-changing, incomprehensible world the masses had reached the point where they would... think that everything was possible and that nothing was true.

In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.

No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.

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.

Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.

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

Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.

Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.

The hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself.

The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.

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

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.

Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.

War has... become a luxury which only the small nations can afford.


(December 4 is also the birthday of the novelist Samuel Butler.)

Categories: Hannah Arendt, Quotes of the day


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