Vita Activa: The Spirit of Hannah Arendt – Wellington International Film Festival

Vita Activa:  The Spirit of Hannah Arendt

by Ada Ushpiz

Quite interesting philosophical discussions put in the personal context of Arendt.  The famous phrase “banality of evil” is put into the larger philosophical context to be seen as a risk for any culture under circumstances.  A hatred, or being treated with no respect, or being without a land/nationality, can, by the determined application of logic, create an entire unreal world removed from what is more fundamentally human and real, that is love and purality.  It is the determined application of logic in those situation which should be called “evil”, or perhaps that “evil” is created in this way (significant difference, perhaps, sorry).  That it is produced by the determined application of logic avoiding the normal compassion in the whole of humanness is what makes evil “banal”.  (Individuals often ascede (sp?) to their cultural surroundings, even for such an evil world, for a variety of personal reasons:  a “lying world of consistency [that] is more adequate to the needs of the human mind than reality itself.” “What the masses refuse to recognize is the fortuitousness that pervades reality.” *)   Nazi-ism and its genocide program is an example of one of these created evils, perhaps the one most defining for 20th century western civilization **.

I expect I’ve misrepresented her thesis in some way, but is my reaction to the film.  I’ve never understood what the ‘hatred of the Jews’ springs from, or even what it means; I don’t remember it being talked about in small town America 40s-50s where/when I grew up, at least in my family; it seemed simply a Protestant town.

Here is a review:

Here is a review of an earlier movie by Margarethe von Trotta’s:

“What she saw and what she argued is that his anti-Semitism alone (my emphasis) was not of the type that would lead someone to do what he (Eichmann) had done.”


* For a long time now I’ve noticed that religious beliefs can reflect something like this – the main difference between people’s religious beliefs is, to me, the extent to which they insist on having a literal word (bible) or certainty in the story.

** another possible example is “nuclear deterrence”, but I’ll not go there just now.   (Not to mention climate change denial in 20th/21st century.)



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