Ethical Obligations of Thinking in Dark Times: A Deweyan Reading of Hannah Arendt

In: Contemporary Pragmatism
Author: Judy D. Whipps1
View More View Less

Purchase instant access (PDF download and unlimited online access):

€29.95$34.95

The current global wave of nationalism threatens the process of shared critical reflection, driving many of us back to reading Hannah Arendt. These “dark times” are especially challenging from a Deweyan pragmatist perspective because critical and cooperative inquiry requires a free community of thinkers. Having lived in a near-fascist religious group for fifteen years, this essay brings personal experiences to the questions of how we think as well as create spaces for diverse yet shared realities to think and act in freedom. Drawing on Arendt as well as Dewey, Addams, and Minnich, this essay explores three necessities for integrity in dark times: (a) Radical honesty and reflection which requires facing up to reality and being mindful about events in our world; (b) Building communities: creating shared reality and public spaces to appear, (c) Developing the skills of engaged thinking and the capacity for deep reflection as a foundation for action together.

  • Addams Jane . 1902/2002. Democracy and Social Ethics. Urbana and Chicago: University of Illinois Press.

  • Arendt Hannah . 1945/1995. The Seeds of a Fascist International. In Essays in Understanding: 1930–1954. Ed. Kohn Jerome . New York: Harcourt Brace and Company. 140150.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arendt Hannah . 1954. “The Crisis in Education” in Between Past and Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought. New York: N.Y. Penguin Books. 173196.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Arendt Hannah . (1955) Men in Dark Times. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

  • Arendt Hannah . (1958) The Human Condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

  • Arendt Hannah . (1968). Totalitarianism: Part Three of the Origins of Totalitarianism. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

  • Arendt Hannah . (1971/1978) The Life of the Mind. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

  • Arendt Hannah . 1972. Crises of the Republic. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

  • Arendt Hannah . 1974. Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewish Woman. Translated Winston Richard and Winston Clara . San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berkowitz Roger . 2010. “Solitude and the Activity of Thinking” in Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics. Berkowitz Roger , Katz Jeffrey and Kesnan Thomas , eds. New York: Fordham University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Berkowitz Roger . 2016. “What philosopher Hannah Arendt would say about Donald TrumpDW. December 15. https://www.dw.com/en/what-philosopher-hannah-arendt-would-say-about-donald-trump/a-36766400.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Brecht Bertold . 2008. “To those who follow in our wake (An die Nachgeborenen)” trans. Horton Scott , Harpers. January 2008. Quoted in Berkowitz 2010.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey John . 1916/1980. (MW 9) Democracy and Education. In The Middle Works, 1899–1924, Vol. 9. Edited by Boydston Jo Ann . Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey John . 1918/1980. (MW 11) “The New Paternalism” In The Middle Works, 1899–1924, Vol. 11. Edited by Boydston Jo Ann . Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey John . 1918/1980. (MW 11) “The Cult of Irrationality.” In The Middle Works, 1899–1924, Vol. 11. Edited by Boydston Jo Ann . Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey John . 1925/1985. (LW 1) Experience and Nature. In The Later Works of John Dewey, 1925–1953. Volume 1. Edited by Boydston Jo Ann . Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Dewey John . 1933/1985 (LW 8) How We Think. A Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process. In The Later Works of John Dewey, Volume 8. Edited by Boydston Jo Ann . Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fischer Clara . 2016. “Feminist Philosophy, Pragmatism, and the ‘Turn to Affect’: A Genealogical Critique”. Hypatia. Vol. 31, No. 4. 810825.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Fischer Marilyn . 2011. Interpretation’s contrapuntal pathways: Addams and the Averbuch affair. Transactions of the Charles S. Peirce Society: A Quarterly Journal in American Philosophy, 47(4), 482506.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Greene Maxine . 1988. The Dialectic of Freedom (The John Dewey Lecture). New York, N.Y.: Teachers College Press.

  • Honig Bonnie , Ed. 1995. Feminist Interpretations of Hannah Arendt. University Park: The Pennsylvania State University Press.

  • Kirsch Adam . 2010. “The Jewish Question: Martin HeideggerNew York Times Sunday Book Review. May 7. https://archive.nytimes.com/www.nytimes.com/2010/05/09/books/review/Kirsch-t.html.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Malek Alia . 2017. The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria. New York: N.Y. Nation Books.

  • Minnich Elizabeth . 2017. The Evil of Banality: On the Life and Death Importance of Thinking. Lantham, Maryland: Rowman and Littlefield.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Minnich Elizabeth . 2014. The Evil of Banality: Arendt revisited. Arts & Humanities in Higher Education. Vol. 13(1–2) 158179.

  • Nussbaum Martha . 2004. “Liberal Education and Global Community.” Liberal Education, Washington: Association of American Colleges and Universities. Vol. 90, Issue 1, 4247.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stonebridge Lyndsey . 2016. “Inner emigration: Arendt and Anna Freud” in “Psychoanalysis in the Age of Totalitarianism”. London and New York: Routledge. 4254.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Stonebridge Lyndsey . 2017. “Lyndsey Stonebridge: Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now” Podcast interview by Tippett Krista On Being. https://onbeing.org/programs/lyndsey-stonebridge-thinking-and-friendship-in-dark-times-hannah-arendt-for-now-may2017/.

    • Search Google Scholar
    • Export Citation
  • Young-Bruehl Elizabeth . 1982. Hannah Arendt: For Love of the World. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.

  • Woolf Virginia . 1976. Moments of Being: Unpublished Autobiographical Writings of Virginia Woolf. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 353 151 6
Full Text Views 87 19 2
PDF Views & Downloads 61 19 4