• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Analysis of book "Eichman in Jeruselum" by Hannah Arendt

Extracts from this document...


Eichmann in Jerusalem The 'banality of evil' and the concept of 'thoughtlessness' are used by Arendt to think about the nature of Eichmanns actions and aims, the state of his conscience and responsibility for the actions of criminal regimes in general. That Eichmann should not be seen as a monster is important to Arendt in the sense that Eichmann stated himself in the court that he had always tried to abide by Kant's categorical imperative (1964, pp. 135-137). She argues that Eichmann had essentially taken the wrong lesson from Kant: Eichmann had not recognized the golden rule and principle of reciprocity implicit in the categorical imperative, but had only understood the concept of one man's actions coinciding with general law. He attempted to follow the spirit of the laws he carried out, thinking that the legislator himself would approve it. According to Eichmann, the legislator was Hitler and so he claimed this changed when he was charged with carrying out the final Solution, at this point Arendt says "he had ceased to live according to Kantian principles, that he had known it, and that he had consoled himself with the thoughts that he no longer was master of his own deeds, that he was unable to change anything (1964, pp. ...read more.


Nevertheless, she recognizes in his defense a larger truth about the nature of responsibility in modernity: judgment and decision-making are always the responsibility of others, and thus, no one. Arendt is certainly interested in Eichmann's mechanism and notes that relatively few still knew right from wrong under the Nazi regime, or were prepared at least to act upon the innate pity that humans feel in the face of suffering. Arendt claims that the evil of Eichmann was his extreme careerism, which kept him focused on the monstrous and routine business of the Holocaust that rendered the lives of millions subservient to the utility of his prospects in the Nazi hierarchy (pp. 82). Eichmann's evil, lies not in some Augustinian stain upon his soul, but rather in his so-called normality, his exceptional attention to being nothing other than normal within even the most extreme circumstances. The judges in the case, were too good, and perhaps also too conscious of the very foundations of their profession, to admit that an average, normal person, neither feeble minded nor indoctrinated, nor cynical, could be perfectly incapable of telling right from wrong. ...read more.


But, whatever the perversity of his modes of thinking, Eichmann never lost the capacity to judge, to say what was and was not in accord with duty, even if his notion of the latter was tragically skewed. It is at this point that needs to be underscored. Critics of Arendt too often highlight her strong account of the rampant conformism of modern society and the crushing oblivion of Nazi totalitarianism to suggest that she believed that Eichmann bore no responsibility for his crimes that the usurpation of his practical reason by Hitler's edicts was inevitable given the time and place in which he lived. Arendt claims Eichmann is a symptom of a wider problem in modernity that needs to be thought, the way in which one's normal aversion to pity can be occluded through the mediation of new technologies and bureaucratic language rules. She worries that past is prologue in the Eichmann case, that it is quite conceivable that in the automated economy of a not to a distant future, men may be tempted to exterminate all those whose intelligence quotient is below a certain level (1964, pp. 289); what worries Arendt, then, is the continued privileging of the technical reasoning of the bureaucrat over the thinking and judging of practical reason. ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our University Degree 1950-1999 section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related University Degree 1950-1999 essays

  1. Marred by violence, ravaged by terrorism: A brief history of (in)security in ...

    Divided up by Maronite Christians and Sunni Muslims the (unwritten) pact divided up the parliament in a 6:5 ration based on the populations at the time with the power positions of president and prime minister going to the Maronites and Sunnis respectively.

  2. Why was "vice" and sexual scandal a public worry in 1950s London

    event took place in private.14 The Montagu-Wildeblood trial was immensely important in expressing the idea that male homosexuality could be acceptable in private. Wildeblood's book; Against the Law also argued this case; I am no more proud of my condition than I would be of having a glass eye or a hare-lip.

  1. Persian Gulf War Analysis

    A nation's actions are only deemed "just" if they are enacted with the right intention. This means that force may be used only when it is truly a just cause and solely for that purpose alone. An example may be correcting a suffered wrong, which is considered a right objective; while material gain or maintaining an economy is not.

  2. Critical Analysis - "The Party Faithful".

    Indeed, during this period "the most committed member of the regime may be arrested" (McAuley, 1992, p.50). Many Soviets believed in the promise that the harsh Stalinist brand of communism would deliver a better life for future generations, both nationally and internationally (McAuley, 1992).

  1. A study into how much John F. Kennedy was responsible for the ...

    Containment of Communism he realised could be far more flexible with a conventional force that was easier to justify use of, instead of justifying a nuclear attack. This need for a large conventional force however, led to the eventual introduction to of American forces into Southeast Asia, leading to a pro longed and highly unsuccessful war effort in Vietnam.

  2. Change in an Indian Village. Analysis of Charlotte and William Wiser's "Behind ...

    Two different castes could not marry and an upper caste could eat or drink anything offered by the lower caste. Even when the Wisers offered peanuts to the children, their parents refused to let them eat. Only food offered by Brahmins would be acceptable for other upper castes.

  1. In what ways do the themes of consumption and the informal economy, living standards ...

    ?standards of living rose more markedly, substantially more than anywhere else in Eastern Europe.?[28] Gokay?s assertion that living standards rose massively is correct because during the 1960s and 1970s, there was an affluence of consumer goods, full employment and a rise in average life expectancy.[29] There was a rise in

  2. World War 2 - two book reviews

    be the lack of parts and mechanics to develop sturdy and useful aircrafts that would withhold the elements and enemy fire, such as the Mitsubishi A6M. And then with better organization, the Japanese Navy would have been able to do a better job anticipating the huge mass numbers of fighter

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work