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The On Being Project

Lyndsey Stonebridge

Thinking and Friendship in Dark Times: Hannah Arendt for Now

Along with George Orwell, the 20th-century political theorist Hannah Arendt is a new bestseller. She famously coined the phrase “the banality of evil” and wrote towering works like The Origins of Totalitarianism. She was concerned with the human essence of events that we analyze as historical and political. Totalitarianism she described as “organized loneliness,” and loneliness as the “common ground for terror.” The historian, she said, always knows how vulnerable facts are. And thinking is not something for elites; it is the human power to keep possibility alive.

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Image By Patrik Stollarz/Getty ImagesDemonstrators set up cardboard cut-outs depicting Spanish dictator Francisco Franco, Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, German dictator Adolf Hitler, Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, and French military leader and Chief of State of Vichy France Marechal Philippe Pétain during a protest at the "Deutsches Eck" memorial against a meeting of the main leaders of Europe's populist and far-right parties in Koblenz, western Germany, on January 21, 2017.

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    Funding provided in part by the John Templeton Foundation. The Templeton Foundation supports research and civil dialogue on the deepest and most perplexing questions facing humankind: Who are we? Why are we here? Where are we going? To learn more, please visit templeton.org.

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