Hannah Arendt's conceptualizations of evil

Date
2016-01
Advisor
Alexander, James
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Bilkent University
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English
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Thesis
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Abstract

We owe to Hannah Arendt the notion of “radical evil” and “the banality of evil”. The word “evil” appears with a surprising frequency in Arendt’s work, even though she never wrote a theory of evil and she was not a moralist. Arendt was not a systematic thinker. In this thesis I reconstruct Hannah Arendt’s accounts of evil by presenting them in relation to other fundamental concepts for which Arendt is well-known. My argument is that in order to understand the many nuances of the concept of evil that feature in Hannah Arendt’s body of work we need to look at the relation between evil and freedom. As Arendt’s two notions of freedom (I-can of the new beginning and I-will of the freedom of will) point towards two different conceptualizations of evil (radicality of evil and the banality of evil), it is the reality of evil which serves as the linchpin that helps us see the relation that exists between these two conceptualizations.

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Hannah Arendt, Evil, Freedom, Action, Judgment, Morality
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Published Version (Please cite this version)