Roger Berkowitz, Founder and Academic Director of the Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and Humanities at Bard College, shares the story and ideas of political thinker Hannah Arendt in this Moxie by Proxy episode.
Hannah was a bold and fiercely independent political thinker. Born in 1906, she came of age during the Nazi era, escaping death and finding her way to New York City in 1941. She wrote and taught on an array of political topics. The 1950s and 1960s saw the publications of her The Origins of Totalitarianism, The Human Condition, Between Past and Future, and On Revolution. She taught at several prestigious colleges and universities, never accepting a tenured position to preserve her intellectual independence.
In 1961, she covered the trial of Nazi official Adolf Eichmann, responsible for the detention and transportation of Jews to concentration camps. Her essays appeared in The New Yorker and became the basis for Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. This concept of the banality of evil is often misunderstood and controversial.
While Hannah saw great evil, she also loved the world in all its messiness and advocated for individuals to be active in public political life, engaged in doing and finding common ground with others. Her approach to thinking, which is both surprising and profound resonates in our current times.
Roger is a scholar and thinker in his own right. He is a Professor of Politics, Philosophy, and Human Rights at Bard and has authored The Gift of Science: Leibniz and the Modern Legal Tradition (Harvard, 2005; Fordham, 2010; Chinese Law Press, 2011). Berkowitz is editor of the just-published The Perils of Invention: Lying, Technology, and the Human Condition (2022) and co-editor of Thinking in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics (2009), The Intellectual Origins of the Global Financial Crisis (2012) and Artifacts of Thinking: Reading Hannah Arendt’s Denktagebuch (2017). Roger also leads the Hannah Arendt Center’s Virtual Reading Group, which meets weekly online to read the work of Hannah Arendt.
His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The American Interest, Bookforum, The Forward, The Paris Review Online, Democracy: A Journal of Ideas, and many other publications. He is a co-editor of Just Ideas, a book series published by Fordham University Press. Roger is the winner of the 2019 Hannah Arendt Prize for Political Thought given by the Heinrich Böll Foundation in Bremen, Germany.
Hannah Arendt Center
Hannah Arendt Virtual Reading Group
The Dialogue Project
Rage and Reason: Democracy Under the Tyranny of Social Media Conference
About Hannah Arendt
Challenging Us as Political Beings in the World – article from Main Street Magazine
Perils of Invention edited by Roger Berkowitz
Oblong Books: Works by Hannah Arendt