The OUP Philosophy team have selected Hannah Arendt (4 October 1906-4 December 1975) as their September Philosopher of the Month. Born into a Jewish German family, Arendt was widely known for her contributions to the field of political theory, writing on the nature of totalitarian states, as well as the resulting byproducts of violence and revolution. Some of her most famous works include; The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), Eichmann in Jerusalem (1965), On Revolution (1963), and On Violence (1970).
Arendt grew up in Königsberg, a city in the Kingdom of Prussia (modern day Kaliningrad, Russia), also the birthplace of philosopher Immanuel Kant. She obtained her doctorate in 1929 from the University of Heidelberg, studying under Karl Jaspers and Edmund Husserl. Due to the rise of Adolf Hitler and the German economy in the wake of World War I, Arendt fled Germany a few years after completing her degree and moved to Paris, France. There she devoted much of her life to working with Zionist organizations, serving as an agent of change and working to fight religious oppression.
In 1940 her work came to a halt – Arendt was seized by the German occupation and prosecuted as an enemy alien. As a result, she was placed in a French Internment Camp. Upon her release, Arendt left Nazi-occupied France and immigrated to the United States, where she became a naturalized citizen. Here she continued her work both as an activist and a scholar. She paralleled the regimes of Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin in The Origins of Totalitarianism, coining the controversial term ‘banality of evil’ in Eichmann in Jerusalem, and continued her political research in On Revolution and On Violence. In her later years, Arendt held professorial positions at the University of Chicago, Berkley, Columbia, and Princeton.
Arendt died of a heart attack in New York City, aged 69. She was buried alongside her husband, Heinrich Blüchner, at Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York.
You can learn more about the life and works of Hannah Arendt by looking out for #PhilosopherOTM across social media and by following @OUPPhilosophy on Twitter. You can also discover other philosophers via the Philosopher of the Month resource hub.
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