Fall 2013 Newsletter

Recent Hannah Arendt Movie

To you and to anyone wondering if real women philosophers exist: watch the recent Hannah Arendt movie, a 2012 German-Luxembourgian-French biographical drama film directed by Margarethe von Trotta and starring Barbara Sukowa. Through the art of this film we see Arendt in her courageous recognition that evil is banal—stale, unoriginal, trite. For she recognized that genuine human vitality, in contrast to banality, involves thinking freshly, questioning anew, seeking origins of what one claims to know and thus distinguishing what one does not know from what one does know. Such thinking is an experience of trouble, conflict, anxiety, suspense, surprise, and wonder—vital indeed. But when Arendt suggested that political events during the war in Europe might have been different if citizens, even the Jews, had thought freshly and had questioned their leaders outright, she was attacked verbally and loudly by many. A longtime friend in Israel whom she went to visit on his deathbed turned away from her. Her students, however, understood and supported her. And her editor at The New Yorker fully accepted her reporting of the Adolf Eichmann trial. Still, daring to question leaders or audiences demands courage. I personally have a hard time bringing up political issues with some family members whom I seem not to be able to reach. So I well appreciate Arendt as she comes forth in the movie, and through her writing and her life, inviting us to think freshly and speak frankly. For not daring to kill our humanity.


- Cecile Tougas, SSWP Board Member

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