Arendt-Fest: «perpetrators of great political crimes» or «great political criminals»?

Valentina Conti


The drive to understand the reasons that led to the Holocaust clearly emerges in some of Hannah Arendt works, such as The Image of Hell (1946), The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951, 1958, 1966), Understanding and Politics (1954), where the author reasons on the concept of «banality of evil». In order to understand her angle on the issue of evil one should also consider the 1964 radio interview between the philosopher and Joachim Fest. This interview provides remarkable insight as it goes deep into the meaning of evil – which it defines «banal» – and touches upon several moral, philosophical and legal arguments connected to it. Moreover, it sheds light on the act/empty function, sense of responsibility/lack of remorse, consensus/obedience, spontaneity/calculation antitheses that explain Arendt’s irreducible opposition between politics and totalitarianism.


H. Arendt; J. Fest; Totalitarianism; Banality of Evil; Action

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DOI: 10.6092/issn.2421-4124/5188


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