Essay about Hannah Arendt: Analyzing Judgement in The Life of the Mind

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Many social and political philosophers extensively study and attempt to identify the ways by which people make judgments. Prior to interpreting and further analyzing conclusions of judgment as noted by any significant philosopher, one must first obtain an understanding of the background and culture said philosopher was surrounded by. Our minds are malleable; opinions and values are most often shaped by societal norms, political structures, and retrospective assessment of past experiences. This paper will examine judgment as studied by Hannah Arendt while delving into the political afflictions that likely shaped her conclusions. Hannah Arendt (born 1906) was a prominent political philosopher of her time. Born in Germany and ultimately…show more content…
Arendt witnessed the abundant pain and suffering resulting from Nazism. Instead of justifying by exemplary historical events or categorizing the Nazi regime as and inevitable tragedy, Arendt wanted to examine Nazism in its own right. She recognizes that often people classify special cases as common ones, and once this unreasonable distinction occurs, it provides the means to rationalize horrific behavior. Arendt notes that our innate structure for judgment deteriorates “as soon as we try to apply it honestly to the central political experiences of our own time” (Understanding and Politics 379). Moreover, Arendt sees understanding and judgment as codependent. If our framework for making judgment isn’t secure, we have no ability to understand. Arendt notes that understanding is “so closely related to and interrelated with judging that one must describe both as the subsumption of something particular under a universal rule” (UP, 383). An inability to understand preceding an inability to judge resolves to a loss of commonplace categories by which we classify events. Furthermore, human need to rationalize tragedy is tested when we lose sight of our putative categories for ethical and political understanding. However, Arendt recognizes that humans are distinct in their ability to surpass the restrictions of judgments or norms. Humans have the innate capacity to start fresh, change perspective, and adjust their views. Furthermore, humans are able

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