An Afternoon of Arendt


The Future of History: Cake and Theory seminar series run by the Centre for the Philosophy of History presents: 

An Afternoon of Arendt   

Time/Date: 14:00, 6th May 2014
Venue: Senior Common Room, St Mary’s University 

There will be two papers discussing this fascinating philosopher by Marije Altorf and Richard King followed by a commentary by Dan Stone. Home-made cakes and refreshments will be available – all welcome. For more information contact: or


14:00 – 14:45 Marije Altorf: “Arendt and Mulisch: Rereading Eichmann in Jerusalem
14:45 – 15:00 Coffee/tea and cake
15:00 – 15:45 Richard King, “Hannah Arendt: History, Causation and New Beginnings”
15:45 – 16:15 Dan Stone – Commentary


Marije Altorf, “Arendt, Herzberg, and Mulisch: Rereading Eichmann in Jerusalem

In 1963 Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem was published. The book created a controversy that lasts until today. Indeed, recent years have seen a growing interest in this controversy, with the publication of Eichmann: His Life and Crines by David Cesarani (2005), Bettina Stangneth’s Eichmann vor Jerusalem: Das unbehelligte Leben eines Massenmörders (2011), Deborah Lipstadt’s The Eichmann Trial (2011) as well as the release of the film Hannah Arendt (2012). In this paper I review this controversy by asking what kind of book Eichmann in Jerusalem is and tries to be. If it is not a ‘faulty piece of historical writing, or even an incomplete sketch in moral history,’ as Susan Neiman claims, what then? The answer to this question I find in the book itself as well as in a comparison to the works of two Dutch conte poraries: De Zaak 40/61 (1962) by Harry Mulisch, whom Arendt mentions, and the lesser known Eichmann in Jerusalem (1962) by Abel Herzberg.

Richard King, “History as Past and Future!”

One consistent theme in Hannah Arendt’s thinking about history is her rejection of history as a causally or teleologically determined process. Her great theme is the appearance of freedom in history, but also the modern tension between politics as the space of freedom and history as the workings of a process. Specifically I want to explore three interrelated issues–the presence of the past in the present; the causal importance of ideas in history; and the various meanings of the “unprecedented” in history–as they also relate to Arendt’s contribution to the secularization debate conducted by contemporaries such such as Karl Löwith, Erich Voegelin and Hans Blumenberg.

Everyone is welcome.

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