The real banality of evil
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[ACCESS RESTRICTED TO THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSOURI AT AUTHOR'S REQUEST.] When Hannah Arendt encountered Adolf Eichmann at his trial in Jerusalem she was struck by the fact that his most outstanding characteristic was his utter thoughtlessness. This raised the questins of whether there might be a connection between thinking and abstaining from evil doing, which she explored in her last book The Life of the Mind. If there is indeed such a connection, there may be a class of people who might be led to abstain from evil doing if they can be persuaded to engage in thinking. This dissertation examines Arendt's success in establishing such a connection. Overall, her project does not really succeed. Her overly formal analysis of thinking wavers between a highly abstract and obscure conceptualization of thinking and a more down to earth definition. Ultimately she winds up stripping thinking of all possible content. .
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