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Dehumanisation and Empathy in Literature and Theory: Hannah Arendt’s Poetics

Budapest campus
Tuesday, June 16, 2020, 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm

The point of departure of this talk is Hannah Arendt’s controversial take on compassion, as presented in Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil (1963) and On Revolution (1963). This talk addresses, on the one hand, the relationship between what Arendt calls “enlarged thinking” and her rhetorics of irony manifest in her use of reported speech, in order to show how all these reflect and create an ethical and political agenda rooted in Kant’s aesthetic judgement. On the other hand, the talk engages with the significance Arendt attaches to speech and especially to the proper way of telling a story, and points to “the inability to speak” as a potential blind spot in her thinking. Eventually, it asks whether it is possible to model a way or reading on Arendt’s conception of taste as political judgement.