Saturday, December 27, 2014

Deconstructing the face of evil

I really enjoyed the movie Hannah Arendt. It is based on the true story of the philosopher-political theorist who wrote a controversial account and analysis of the trial of the Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann. Rather than simply condemn him as a monster, Arendt considered his "mediocrity" and complete lack of humanity with his notions of "loyalty", "just following orders" and bureaucratic procedures. He had lost the ability to actually think and make moral judgements, a defining essence of humanity. This led to her coining the phrase "the banality of evil". Eichmann was "simply doing his job."

The impressive climax of the movie is the speech that Arendt gives to a group of her students, and some of her critical faculty colleagues, where she defends her perspective.

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