27 April 2020

Evil, Resistance, and Judgment: Hannah Arendt and Religious Critique

This seminar explores Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the themes of evil, resistance, and judgment, especially as these are shaped by her experience reporting for The New Yorker at the 1961 war crimes trial of Adolf Eichmann (first published in book form in 1963 under the title Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil). In this book, Arendt claims to have observed a new face of evil, banality, which she describes as a refusal to ‘think’ that robs our moral imagination of the ability to see things from another’s point of view. At the same time, the book offers an intriguing analysis of human power and the possibility of resisting seemingly inexorable evil forces. With Arendt’s reflections on banal evil and the possibility of resistance in mind, we will turn to Arendt’s last (and uncompleted) reflections on judgment as that ‘faculty’ which might yet help us think and act in unprecedented social and political situations where traditional wisdom has collapsed and universal rules have proved incapable of providing moral guidance. In our exploration of the material collected in the volume Responsibility and Judgment, we will also ask what members of specifically religious communities might learn from Arendt’s reflections (a question Arendt does not herself explicitly ask): Are faith communities prone to fostering ideological formations that inhibit their members’ capacity to engage in the kind of thinking that Arendt says is a necessary condition of our ability to judge? How do the beliefs and actions of different religious communities contribute to the ability of their members to become effective judges of a world that is shared and constituted by a plurality of persons who are members of different communities? How might Arendt’s insights help religious adherents rediscover the spiritual and intellectual resources of their traditions that could awaken hope and reveal novel possibility for resistance and action?

This is an intensive hybrid course, starting in the week of April 27 and finishing in the week of June 1. Participation at the ICS Undergraduate Workshop (May 28-30) is mandatory, followed by classes between June 1-5.

Register no later than March 31, 2020, by emailing Elizabet Aras, Registrar.

ICS 220502 S20
ICT6735HS L0101*
Drs. Ron Kuipers, Jeff Dudiak
Intensive, Hybrid (Online/In-Person)
Location: Multi-Purpose Room at the Multi-Faith Centre (9:30am-12:30pm, June 1-5)

(MA, PhD)


*TST students have to register with ICS Registrar to complete registration and pay tuition. ICS reserves the right to decline late registrations due to limited space.