Judgment on trial : Hannah Arendt, Adolf Eichmann and the Judenräte / by Robert Barry Sharpe
Includes bibliographical references (p. 234-241)
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This dissertation is an exploration of political judgment, with emphasis on the work of Hannah Arendt. The backdrop for this examination is Arendt's report on the trial of Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann. The specific instance of judgment that will serve as the basis for discussing Arendt on judgment is her report of the trial of Eichmann--Eichmann in Jerusalem. Although it is Eichmann's thoughtlessness that is the central feature of Arendt's analysis of the trial, I argue that Arendt's portrayal of Eichmann's thoughtlessness becomes the basis for Arendt's later formulation of judgment. I present Arendt's work on judgment along two dimensions: modesty and arrogance. I identify the "modesty" represented by "who am I to judge?" with the figure of Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann and suggest how a lapse in judgment becomes a withdrawal of individual responsibility. This presentation of Eichmann's "modesty" is balanced with what I call Arendt's "arrogance," that is her refusal to suspend judgment of Jewish leadership and their compliance with certain directives in Nazi-occupied Europe. The link between Eichmann's "modesty" and Arendt's "arrogance" highlights the question of how much distance in time, space, and imagination is appropriate or necessary for judgment.
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