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Hannah Arendt - Quotes

The human sense of reality demands that men actualize the sheer passive givenness of their being, not in order to change it, but in order to make articulate and call into full existence what otherwise they would have to suffer passively anyhow.
Arendt, Hannah.

Forgiveness is the exact opposite of vengeance, which acts in the form of re-enacting against an original trespassing whereby far from putting an end to the consequences of the first misdeed, everybody remains bound to the process, permitting the chain reaction contained in every action to take its unhindered course.
Arendt, Hannah.

...only love has the power to forgive. For love, although it is one of the rarest occurrences in human lives, indeed possesses an unqualed power of self-revelation and an unequaled clarity of vision for the disclosure of who, precisely because it is unconcerned to the point of total unworldliness with what the loved person may be, with his qualities and shortcomings no less than with his achievements, failings and transgression.
Arendt, Hannah.

Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.
Arendt, Hannah.

The reluctance to recognize the Will as a separate, autonomous mental faculty finally ceded during the long centuries of Christian philosophy...
Arendt, Hannah.

In this world which we enter, appearing from a nowhere, and from which we disappear into a nowhere, Being and Appearing coincide..
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Not man but men inhabit this planet. Plurality is the law of the earth.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Dear matter, natural and artificial, changing and unchanging, depends in its being, that is, in its appearingness, on the presence of living creatures. Nothing and nobody exists in a world whose very being does not presuppose a spectator.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

The worldliness of living things means that there is no subject that is not also an object and appears as such to somebody else, who guarantees its “objective” reality. What we usually call “consciousness.” the fact that I am aware of myself and therefore in a sense can appear to myself, would never suffice to guarantee reality …
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Seen from the perspective of the world, every creature born into it arrives well equipped to deal with a world in which Being and Appearing coincide; they are fit for world existence.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Living beings, men and animals, are not just in the world, they are of the world, and this precisely because they are subjects and objects-perceiving and being perceived-at the same time.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Conceptual metaphorical speech is indeed adequate to the activity of thinking, the operations of our mind, but the life of the soul in its very intensity is much more adequately expressed in a glance, a sound, a gesture, than in speech.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Unlike thoughts an ideas, feelings, passions and emotions can no more become part and parcel of the world of appearances than can our inner organs. What appears in the outside world in addition to physical signs is only what we make of them through the operation of thought.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Every show of anger, as distinct from the anger I feel, already contains a reflection on it, and it is this reflection that gives the emotion the highly individualized form which is meaningful for all surface phenomena.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

To show one’s anger is one form of self-presentation: I decide what is fit for appearance. In other words, the emotions I feel are no more meant to be shown in their inadulterated state than the inner organs by which we live.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

It is true that all mental activities withdraw from the world of appearances, but this withdrawal is not toward an interior of either the self or the soul. Thought with its accompanying conceptual language, since it occurs in and is being spoken by a being at home in a world of appearances, stands in need of metaphors in order to bridge the gap between a world given to sense experience and a realm where no such immediate apprehension of evidence can ever exist.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

The language of the soul in its mere exprssive stage, prior to its transformatin and transfiguration through thought, is not metaphorical; it does not depart from the senses and uses no analogies when it talks in terms of physical sensations.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Man’s finitude, irrevocably given by virtue of his own short time span set in an infinity of time stretching into both past and future, constitutes the infrastructure, as it were, of all mental activities: it manifests itself as the only reality of which thinking qua thinking is aware, when the thinking ego has withdrawn from the world of appearances and lost the sense of realness inherent in the sensus communis by which we orient ourselves in this world.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Without doing much violence to Kafka’s magnificent story, one may perhaps go a step further. The trouble with Kafka’s metaphor is that by jumping out of the fighting line “he” jumps out of the world altogether and judges from outside though not necessarily from above.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Moreover, if it is the insertion of man that breaks up the indifferent flow of everlasting change by giving it an aim, namely himself, the being who fights it, and if through that insertion the indifferent time stream is articulated into what is behind him, the past, what is ahead of him, the future, and himself, the fighting present, then it follows that man’s presences causes the stream of time to deflect from whatever its original direction or (assuming a cyclical movement) ultimate non-direction may have been.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Augustine … diagnoses the ultimate unifying will that eventually decides a man’s conduct as Love. Love is the “weight of the soul,” its law of gravitation, that which brings the soul’s movement to its rest.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Somewhat influenced by Aristotelian physics, he [Augustine] holds that the end of all movement is rest, and now he understands the emotions - the motions of the soul - in analogy to the movements of the physical world. For “nothing else do bodies desire by their weight than what souls desire by their love.” Hence, in the Confessions: “My weight is my love; by it I am borne whithersoever I am born.” The soul’s gravity, the essence of who somebody is, and which as such is inscrutable to human eyes, becomes manifest in this love.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

The great advantage of the transformation is not only Love’s greater force in uniting what remains separate - when the Will uniting “the form of the body that is seen and its image which arises in the sense, that is, vision … is so violent that [it keeps the sense fixed on the vision once it has been formed], it can be called love, or desire, or passion” - but also that love, as distinguished from will and desire, is not extinguished when it reaches its goal but enables the mind “to remain steadfast in order to enjoy it.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

What the will is not able to accomplish is this steadfast enjoyment; the will is given as a mental faculty because the mind “is not sufficient to itself” and “through its need and want, it becomes excessively intent upon its own actions”. The will decides how to use memory and intellect, that is, it “refers them to something else,” but it does not know how “to use with the joy, not of hope, but of the actual thing.” That is the reason the will is never satisfied, for satisfaction means that the “will is at rest,” and nothing - certainly not hope - can still the will’s restlessness “save endurance,” the quiet and lasting enjoyment of something present; only “the force of love is so great that the mind draws in with itself those things upon which it has so long reflected with love”. The whole mind “is in those things upon which it thinks with love” and these are the things “without which it cannot think of itself.”
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

What is it in the human mind that makes it capable of transcending its own limitations, its absolute finitude? And the answer to this question is in Scotus, as distinguished from Thomas, is the Will. To be sure, no philosophy can ever be a substitute for divine revelation, which the Christian accepts on the strength of testimony in which he has faith. Creation and resurrection are articles of faithl they cannot be proved or refuted bu natural reasons.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind (2 vols. Volume I: Thinking, Volume II: Willing). Brace Harcourt. January 1, 1978. Hardcover, 535 pages, Language English, ASIN: B001RG9SBI.

Events, by definition, are occurrences that interrupt routine processes and routine procedures; only in a world in which nothing of importance ever happens could the futurologists’ dream come true.
Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. Mariner Books. March 11, 1970. Paperback, 120 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156695006.

The danger is that these theories are not only plausible, because they take their evidence from actually discernible present trends, but that, because of their inner consistency, they have a hypnotic effect; they put to sleep our common sense, which is nothing else but our mental organ for perceiving, understanding, and dealing with reality and factuality.
Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. Mariner Books. March 11, 1970. Paperback, 120 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156695006.

No one engaged in thought about history and politics can remain unaware of the enormous role violence has always played in human affairs, and it is at first glance rather surprising that violence has been singled out so seldom for special occasions.
Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. Mariner Books. March 11, 1970. Paperback, 120 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156695006.

This shows to what extent violence and its arbitrariness were taken for granted and therefore neglected; no one questions or examines what is obvious to all.
Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. Mariner Books. March 11, 1970. Paperback, 120 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156695006.

Today all these old verities about the relation between war and politics or about violence and power have become inapplicable. The Second World War was not followed by peace but by a cold war and the establishment of a military-industrial-labor complex.
Arendt, Hannah. On Violence. Mariner Books. March 11, 1970. Paperback, 120 pages, Language English, ISBN: 0156695006.

And if, fortunately, his best turns out not to be good enough, the reason is that the trial is presided over by someone who serves Justice as faithfully as Mr. Hausner serves the State of Israel. Justice demands that the accused be prosecuted, defended and judged, and that all the other questions of seemingly greater import - of “How could it happen?,” of “Why the Jews?” and “Why the Germans?,” of “What was the role of other nations?” and “What was the extent of co-responsibilities on the side of the allies?,” of “How could the Jews of their own leaders cooperate in their own destruction?” and “Why did they go to their death like lambs to the slaughter?” - be left in abeyance.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

Justice insists on the importance of Adolf Eichmann, son of Karl Adolf Eichmann, the man in the glass booth built for his protection: medium sized, slender, middle aged, with receding hair, ill-fitting teeth and nearsighted eyes, who throughout the trial keeps craning his scraggy neck towards the bench (not once does he face the audience), and who desperately and for the most part successfully maintains his self-control despite the nervous twitch to which his mouth must have become subject long before the trial started. On trial are his deeds, not the suffering of the Jews, not the German people or mankind, not even anti-Semitism and racism.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

Justice does not permit anything of the sort; it demands seclusion, it permits sorrow rather than anger, and it prescribes the most careful abstention from all the nice pleasures of putting oneself in the limelight.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

Was it not logical to bring before the court all the facts of the Jewish sufferings (which, of course, were never in dispute) and then look for evidence which in one way or another connect Eichmann with what had happened? The Nuremberg Trials, where the defendants had been “indicted for crimes against the members of various nations,” had left the Jewish tragedy out of account for the simple reason that Eichmann had not been there.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

While the legal irrelevance of all this very time-consuming testimony remained pitifully clear, the political intention of the Israeli government in introducing it was not difficult to guess.
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

(In view of the fact that today such matters are often treated as though there existed a law of human nature compelling everybody to lose his dignity in the face of disaster we may recall the attitude of the French Jewish war veterans who were offered the same privileges by their government, and replied: “We solemnly declare that we renounce any exceptional benefits we may derive from our status as ex-servicemen” [American Jewish Yearbook, 1945].) Needless to say, the Nazis themselves never took these distinctions seriously, for them a Jew was a Jew, but the categories played a certain role up until the very end since they helped put to rest a certain uneasiness among the German population...
Arendt, Hannah. Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. Viking Press. 1963. Hardcover, 273 pages, Language English, ISBN: B000LEXNFO.

No human life, not even the life of the hermit in nature’s wilderness, is possible without a world which directly or indirectly testifies to the presence of other human beings.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Man by working and fabricating and building a world inhabited only by himself would still be a fabricator, though not homo faber: he would have lost his specifically human quality and, rather, be a god - not, to be sure, the Creator, but a divine demiurge as Plato described him in one of his myths.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Action alone is the exclusive prerogative of man; neither a beast nor a god is capable of it, and only action is entirely dependent upon the constant presence of others.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Of all the activities necessary and present in human communities, only two were deemed to be political and to constitute what Aristotle called the bios politikos, namely action (praxis) and speech (lexis), out of which rises the realm of human affairs … from which everything merely necessary or useful is excluded.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Action and speech go on between men, as they are directed toward them, and they retain their agent-revealing capacity even if their content is exclusively “objective,” concerned with the matters of the world of things in which men move, which physically lies between them and out of which arise their specific, objective worldly interests.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

But for all its intangibility, this in-between is no less real than the world of things we visibly have in common. We call this reality the “web” of human relationships, indicating by the metaphor its somewhat intangible quality. To be sure, this web is no less bound to the objective world of things than speech is to the existence of a living body, but the relationship is not like that of a facade or, in Marxian terminology, of an essentially superfluous superstructure affixed to the useful structure of building itself.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

The basic error of all materialism in politics - and this materialism is not Marxian and not even modern in origin, but as old as our history of political theory - is to overlook the inevitability with which men disclose themselves as subjects, as distinct and unique persons, even when they wholly concentrate upon reaching an altogether worldly, material object.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

The fictional story reveals a maker just as every work of art clearly indicates that it was made by somebody; this does not belong to the character of the story itself but only to the mode in which it came into existence.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

The real story in which we are engaged as long as we live has no visible or invisible maker because it is not made. The only “somebody” it reveals is its hero, and it is the only medium in which the originally intangible manifestation of a uniquely distinct “who” can become tangible ex post facto through action and speech.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Who somebody is or was we can know only by knowing the story of which he is himself the hero - his biography, in other words; everything else we know of him, including the work he may have produced and left behind, tells us only what he is or was.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

The specific revelatory quality of action and speech, the implicit manifestation of the agent and speaker, is so indissolubly tied to the living flux of acting and speaking that it can be represented and “reified” only through a kind of repetition, the imitation or mimesis, which according to Aristotle prevails in all arts but is actually appropriate only to the drama, whose very name indicates that play acting actually is an imitation of acting.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

To do and to suffer are like opposite sides of the same coin, and the story that an act starts is composed of its consequent deeds and sufferings. These consequences are boundless, because action, though it may proceed from nowhere, so to speak, acts into a medium where every reaction becomes a chain reactino and where every process is the cause of new processes.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.

Love by reason of its passion, destroys the in-between which relates us to and separates us from others. As long as its spell lasts, the only in-between which can insert itself between two lovers is the child, love’s own product. The child, this in-between to which the lovers now are related … is representative of the world in that it also separates them; it is an indication that they will insert a new world into an existing world.
Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition. University of Chicago Press. January 1, 1958. Hardcover, 333 pages, Language English, ISBN: B0000CK2TY.