Hannah Arendt quotes:

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

  • The new always happens against the overwhelming odds of statistical laws and their probability, which for all practical, everyday purposes amounts to certainty; the new therefore always appears in the guise of a miracle.

  • Our tradition of political thought had its definite beginning in the teachings of Plato and Aristotle. I believe it came to a no less definite end in the theories of Karl Marx.

  • Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future, making it predictable and reliable to the extent that this is humanly possible.

  • The more dubious and uncertain an instrument violence has become in international relations, the more it has gained in reputation and appeal in domestic affairs, specifically in the matter of revolution.

  • The defiance of established authority, religious and secular, social and political, as a world-wide phenomenon may well one day be accounted the outstanding event of the last decade.

  • Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being.

  • The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.

  • The Third World is not a reality but an ideology.

  • Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent. Violence appears where power is in jeopardy, but left to its own course it ends in power's disappearance.

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

  • We have almost succeeded in leveling all human activities to the common denominator of securing the necessities of life and providing for their abundance.

  • That Hegelian dialectics should provide a wonderful instrument for always being right, because they permit the interpretations of all defeats as the beginning of victory, is obvious. One of the most beautiful examples of this kind of sophistry occurred after 1933 when the German Communists for nearly two years refused to recognize that Hitler's victory had been a defeat for the German Communist Party.

  • It is in the very nature of things human that every act that has once made its appearance and has been recorded in the history of mankind stays with mankind as a potentiality long after its actuality has become a thing of the past.

  • 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.

  • Culture relates to objects and is a phenomenon of the world; entertainment relates to people and is a phenomenon of life.

  • Total loyalty is possible only when fidelity is emptied of all concrete content, from which changes of mind might naturally arise.

  • The ultimate end of human acts is eudaimonia, happiness in the sense of living well, which all men desire; all acts are but different means chosen to arrive at it.

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

  • Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time

  • The heritage of the American Revolution is forgotten, and the American government, for better and for worse, has entered into theheritage of Europe as though it were its patrimony--unaware, alas, of the fact that Europe's declining power was preceded and accompanied by political bankruptcy, the bankruptcy of the nation-state and its concept of sovereignty.

  • The chief reason warfare is still with us is neither a secret death-wish of the human species, nor an irrepressible instinct of aggression, nor, finally and more plausibly, the serious economic and social dangers inherent in disarmament, but the simple fact that no substitute for this final arbiter in international affairs has yet appeared on the political scene.

  • Poets are the only people to whom love is not only a crucial, but an indispensable experience, which entitles them to mistake it for a universal one.

  • To be free in an age like ours, one must be in a position of authority. That in itself would be enough to make me ambitious.

  • That Hegelian dialectics should provide a wonderful instrument for always being right, because they permit the interpretations of all defeats as the beginning of victory, is obvious. One of the most beautiful examples of this kind of sophistry occurred after 1933 when the German Communists for nearly two years refused to recognize that Hitler's victory had been a defeat for the German Communist Party."

  • I've begun so late, really only in recent years, to truly love the world... Out of gratitude, I want to call my book on political theories Amor Mundi .

  • 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.

  • No cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.

  • The individual who has been liberated by reason is always running head-on into a world, a society, whose past in the shape of 'prejudices' has a great deal of power; he is forced to learn that past reality is also a reality.

  • By its very nature the beautiful is isolated from everything else. From beauty no road leads to reality.

  • It is my contention that civil disobediences are nothing but the latest form of voluntary association, and that they are thus quite in tune with the oldest traditions of the country.

  • [About Eichmann:] It was as though in those last minutes he was summing up the lesson that this long course in human wickedness had taught us - the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.

  • Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.

  • What I cannot live with may not bother another man's conscience. The result is that conscience will stand against conscience.

  • Our problem today is not how to expropriate the expropriators but, rather, how to arrange matters so that the masses, dispossessed by industrial society in capitalist and socialist systems, can regain property. For this reason alone, the alternative between capitalism and socialism is false-not only because neither exists anywhere in its pure state anyhow, but because we have here twins, each wearing different hats.

  • There is all the difference in the world between the criminal's avoiding the public eye and the civil disobedience's taking the law into his own hands in open defiance. This distinction between an open violation of the law, performed in public, and a clandestine one is so glaringly obvious that it can be neglected only by prejudice or ill will.

  • The climax of terror is reached when the police state begins to devour its own children, when yesterday's executioner becomes today's victim.

  • Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within.

  • Politically speaking, tribal nationalism [patriotism] always insists that its own people are surrounded by 'a world of enemies' - 'one against all' - and that a fundamental difference exists between this people and all others. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy the humanity of man.

  • Death not merely ends life, it also bestows upon it a silent completeness, snatched from the hazardous flux to which all things human are subject.

  • In contrast to revenge, which is the natural, automatic reaction to transgression and which, because of the irreversibility of the action process can be expected and even calculated, the act of forgiving can never be predicted; it is the only reaction that acts in an unexpected way and thus retains, though being a reaction, something of the original character of action.

  • Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.

  • Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.

  • Action, as distinguished from fabrication, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act.

  • No argument can persuade me to like oysters if I do not like them. In other words, the disturbing thing about matters of taste is that they are not communicable.

  • They must remember that they are constantly on the run, and that the world's reality is actually expressed by their escape.

  • Equality...is the result of human organization. We are not born equal.

  • Expulsion and genocide, though both are international offenses, must remain distinct; the former is an offense against fellow-nations, whereas the latter is an attack upon human diversity as such, that is, upon a characteristic of the "human status" without which the very words "mankind" or "humanity" would be devoid of meaning.

  • The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists.

  • the result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth, and truth be defamed as lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world - and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end - is being destroyed.

  • Opinions are formed in a process of open discussion and public debate, and where no opportunity for the forming of opinions exists, there may be moods -moods of the masses and moods of individuals, the latter no less fickle and unreliable than the former -but no opinion.

  • Ideological thinking becomes emancipated from the reality that we perceive with our five senses, and insists on a 'truer' reality concealed behind all perceptible things, dominating them from this place of concealment and requiring a sixth sense that enables us to become aware of it.

  • No civilization would ever have been possible without a framework of stability, to provide the wherein for the flux of change. Foremost among the stabilizing factors, more enduring than customs, manners and traditions, are the legal systems that regulate our life in the world and our daily affairs with each other.

  • When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse.

  • Few girls are as well shaped as a good horse.

  • Ideologies - isms which to the satisfaction of their adherents can explain everything and every occurence by deducing it from a single premise - are a very recent phenomenon ... Not before Hitler and Stalin were the great political potentialities of the ideologies discovered.

  • What will happen once the authentic mass man takes over, we do not know yet, although it may be a fair guess that he will have more in common with the meticulous, calculated correctness of Himmler than with the hysterical fanaticism of Hitler, will more resemble the stubborn dullness of Molotov than the sensual vindictive cruelty of Stalin.

  • Men, forever tempted to lift the veil of the future-with the aid of computers or horoscopes or the intestines of sacrificial animals-have a worse record to show in these sciences than in almost any scientific endeavor.

  • The human condition comprehends more than the condition under which life has been given to man. Men are conditioned beings because everything they come in contact with turns immediately into a condition of their existence. The world in which the vita activa spends itself consists of things produced by human activities; but the things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers.

  • The human condition is such that pain and effort are not just symptoms which can be removed without changing life itself; they are the modes in which life itself, together with the necessity to which it is bound, makes itself felt. For mortals, the easy life of the gods would be a lifeless life.

  • The earth is the very quintessence of the human condition.

  • 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 hypocrite is really rotten to the core.

  • Conscience is the anticipation of the fellow who awaits you if and when you come home.

  • Immortality is what nature possesses without effort and without anybody's assistance, and immortality is what the mortals must therefore try to achieve if they want to live up to the world into which they were born, to live up to the things which surround them and to whose company they are admitted for a short while.

  • Rage is by no means an automatic reaction to misery and suffering as such; no one reacts with rage to an incurable disease or to an earthquake or, for that matter, to social conditions that seem to be unchangeable. Only where there is reason to suspect that conditions could be changed and are not does rage arise.

  • The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.

  • Forgiveness is the only way to reverse the irreversible flow of history.

  • War has become a luxury that only small nations can afford.

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

  • Nihilism is but the other side of conventionalism; its creed consists of negations of the current so-called positive values, to which it remains bound.

  • This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.

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

  • What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing

  • The ceaseless, senseless demand for original scholarship in a number of fields, where only erudition is now possible, has led either to sheer irrelevancy, the famous knowing of more and more about less and less, or to the development of a pseudo-scholarship which actually destroys its object.

  • Man's chief moral deficiency appears to be not his indiscretions but his reticence.

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

  • It is quite gratifying to feel guilty if you haven't done anything wrong how noble! Whereas it is rather hard and certainly depressing to admit guilt and to repent

  • Courage is indispensible because in politics not life but the world is at stake.

  • The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.

  • When an old truth ceases to be applicable, it does not become any truer by being stood on its head.

  • To sum up: politically speaking, it is insufficient to say that power and violence are not the same. Power and violence are opposites; where the one rules absolutely, the other is absent.

  • The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.

  • It is in the nature of all party systems that the authentically political talents can assert themselves only in rare cases, and it is even rarer that the specifically political qualifications survive the petty maneuvers of party politics with its demands for plain salesmanship.

  • Freedom from labor itself is not new; it once belonged among the most firmly established privileges of the few. In this instance, it seems as though scientific progress and technical developments had been only taken advantage of to achieve something about which all former ages dreamed but which none had been able to realize.

  • Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up.

  • What really distinguishes this generation in all countries from earlier generations ... is its determination to act, its joy in action, the assurance of being able to change things by one's own efforts.

  • There is a strange interdependence between thoughtlessness and evil.

  • It belongs among the refinements of totalitarian government in our century that they don't permit their opponents to die a great, dramatic martyr's death for their convictions.

  • the touchstone of a free act - from the decision to get out of bed in the morning or take a walk in the afternoon to the highest resolutions by which we bind ourselves for the future - is always that we know that we could also have left undone what we actually did.

  • It is the nature of beginning that something new is started which cannot be expected from whatever may have happened before. This character of startling unexpectedness is inherent in all beginnings.

  • The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.

  • Our Last Will and Testament, providing for the only future of which we can be reasonably certain, namely our own death, shows thatthe Will's need to will is no less strong than Reason's need to think; in both instances the mind transcends its own natural limitations, either by asking unanswerable questions or by projecting itself into a future which, for the willing subject, will never be.

  • As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.

  • A theology which is not based on revelation as a given reality but treats God as an idea would be as mad as a zoology which is no longer sure of the physical, tangible existence of animals.

  • No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. On the contrary, whatever the punishment, once a specific crime has appeared for the first time, its reappearance is more likely than its initial emergence could ever have been.

  • These are the fifties, you know. The disgusting, posturing fifties.

  • ... the loss of belief in future states is politically, though certainly not spiritually, the most significant distinction betweenour present period and the centuries before. And this loss is definite. For no matter how religious our world may turn again, or how much authentic faith still exists in it, or how deeply our moral values may be rooted in our religious systems, the fear of hell is no longer among the motives which would prevent or stimulate the actions of a majority.

  • ... the space left to freedom is very small.ends are inherent in human nature and the same for all.

  • ... the will always wills to do something and thus implicitly holds in contempt sheer thinking, whose whole activity depends on "doing nothing.

  • ... we have almost succeeded in leveling all human activities to the common denominator of securing the necessities of life and providing for their bundance. Whatever we do, we are supposed to do for the sake of "making a living;" such is the verdict of society, and the number of people, especially in the professions who might challenge it, has decreased rapidly. The only exception society is willing to grant is to the artist, who, strictly speaking, is the only "worker" left in a laboring society.

  • ... we may remember what the Romansthought a cultivated person ought to be: one who knows how to choose his company among men, among things, among thoughts, in the present as well as in the past.

  • ... whatever men do or know or experience can make sense only to the extent that it can be spoken about. There may be truths beyond speech, and they may be of great relevance to man in the singular, that is, to man in so far as he is not a political being, whatever else he may be. Men in the plural, that is, men in so far as they live and move and act in this world, can experience meaningfulness only because they can talk with and make sense to each other and to themselves.

  • A functionary, when he really is nothing more than a functionary, is really a very dangerous gentleman.

  • A life spent entirely in public, in the presence of others, becomes, as we would say, shallow. While it retains its visibility, it loses its quality of rising into sight from some darker ground which must remain hidden if it is not to lose its depth in a very real, non-subjective sense.

  • Absence of thought is indeed a powerful factor in human affairs, statistically speaking the most powerful, not just in the conduct of the many but in the conduct of all.

  • According to bourgeois standards, those who are completely unlucky and unsuccessful are automatically barred from competition, which is the life of society. Good fortune is identified with honor, and bad luck with shame.

  • Action painting has to do with self-creation or self-definition or self-transcendence; but this dissociates it from self-expression, which assumes the acceptance of the ego as it is, with its wound and its magic.

  • All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them.

  • Although tyranny...may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.

  • 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.

  • As witnesses not of our intentions but of our conduct, we can be true or false, and the hypocrite's crime is that he bears false witness against himself. What makes it so plausible to assume that hypocrisy is the vice of vices is that integrity can indeed exist under the cover of all other vices except this one. 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.

  • At any rate, nothing was more characteristic of him [Walter Benjamin] in the thirties than the little notebooks with black covers which he always carried with him and in which he tirelessly entered in the form of quotations what daily living and reading netted him in the way of "pearls" and "coral." On occasion he read from them aloud, showed them around like items from a choice and precious collection.

  • Basically we are always educating for a world that is or is becoming out of joint, for this is the basic human situation, in which the world is created by mortal hands to serve mortals for a limited time as home.

  • Bureaucracy, the rule of nobody.

  • By assigning his political rights to the state the individual also delegates his social responsibilities to it: he asks the state to relieve him of the burden of caring for the poor precisely as he asks for protection against criminals. The difference between pauper and criminal disappears - both stand outside society.

  • Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.

  • Clich├ęs, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.

  • Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining whatever happens to come to pass or to attract attention, regardless of results and specific content, could this activity be among the conditions that make men abstain from evil-doing?

  • Culture is being threatened when all worldly objects and things, produced by the present or the past, are treated as mere functions for the life process of society, as though they are there only to fulfill some need, and for this functionalization it is almost irrelevant whether the needs in question are of a high or a low order.

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