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Recently, discussions and references to Arendt have exploded in the social media.Why this growing interest – and why the recent spike of interest in her work?In the early 1920s she studied with Germany’s most important philosophers and theologians, including Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers and Bultmann.
She tells us that that as a child, she was barely aware of her Jewishness, but during the 1920s she became aware of the viciousness of Nazi antisemitism.
In an interview reflecting on this time of her life she declares: “I realized what I then expressed time and time again in the sentence: If one is attacked as a Jew, one must defend oneself as a Jew.
All over the world, people are passionately interested in her work.
There seems to be no end of books, conferences and articles focusing on Arendt and her ideas.
This is a primary reason for her sensitivity to the plight of the stateless and the troubled status of refugees.
Illegal German exiles in Paris faced the problem of not having official papers permitting them to work and many lead extremely precarious lives.In 1933 she was apprehended and interrogated for eight days.She never revealed what she was doing, but she was finally released.Despite such thematic diversity, virtually all the contributors have made an effort to build bridges between interest-driven politics and Arendt's Hellenic/existential politics.Although some are quite critical of the way Arendt develops her theory, most sympathize with her project of rescuing politics from both the foreshortening glance of the philosopher and its assimilation to social and biological processes.When Arendt speaks of “dark times” she is not exclusively referring to the horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism.She says: “If it is the function of the public realm to throw light on the affairs of men by providing a space of appearances in which they can show in deed and word, for better or worse, who they are and what they can do, then darkness has come when this light is extinguished by ‘credibility gaps’ and ‘invisible government,’ by speech that does not disclose what is, but sweeps it under the carpet, by exhortations, moral and otherwise, that under the pretext of upholding old truths, degrade all truth in meaningless triviality.” It is hard to resist the conclusion that we are now living in dark times that are engulfing the entire world.This was an extraordinary piece of good luck because we know that many others in similar circumstances were murdered in the cellars of the Gestapo.Soon after her interrogation, Arendt decided to flee from Germany illegally. Arendt was officially stateless for eighteen years.Peter Euben, University of California, Santa Cruz Lewis P.Hinchman is Associate Professor of Government at Clarkson University. Hinchman is Associate Professor of Government at St.