Human Studies

, Volume 41, Issue 4, pp 545–563 | Cite as

How Does Corporeality Inform Theorizing? Revisiting Hannah Arendt and the Banality of Evil

  • Paulina Segarra
  • Ajnesh PrasadEmail author
Theoretical / Philosophical Paper


The perplexing relationship between two of the twentieth century’s most important philosophers, Hannah Arendt and Martin Heidegger, has been the subject of much speculation within academic circles. For Arendt, Heidegger was at once, her mentor, her lover, and her friend. In this paper, we juxtapose Arendt’s theory of the banality of evil against her relationship with Heidegger in an effort to consider the question: How does corporeality inform theorizing? In answering this question, we repudiate the conventional reading of the banality of evil, which attributes the theory to Arendt’s analysis of Adolf Eichmann during the latter’s criminal trial for the actions that he perpetrated in the operation of the Holocaust. Instead, we argue that the theory is, more compellingly, reflective of Arendt’s deeply personal attempts at making sense of Heidegger’s decision to affiliate himself with the German Nazi Party in the years preceding, and during, the Second World War. Through this revisionist account of the banality of evil, we animate the idea that theorizing is the discursive corollary, and belongs within the phenomenological parameters, of corporeality. Finally, we contend that any constructive understanding of how corporeality informs theorizing will only be realized, when there is a collapsing of the seemingly impervious philosophical boundaries that demarcate between ontology and epistemology.


Banality of evil Corporeality Epistemology Hannah Arendt Martin Heidegger Subjectivity Theory Theorizing 



Earlier versions of this paper were presented at the Administrative Sciences Association of Canada Conference in Edmonton, Alberta (June 2016) and the Academy of Management Annual Meeting in Anaheim, California (August 2016). At the former conference, this paper won the Best Paper Award in Business History. A more refined version of this paper was delivered at an invited seminar in the Department of Management at the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana in Bogota, Colombia (September 2017). Paulina Segarra acknowledges research support through a doctoral scholarship from CONACYT, while Ajnesh Prasad acknowledges research support through his Canada Research Chair. Together they thank editor-in-chief of the journal, Martin Endress, and two anonymous reviewers whose comments encouraged them to think deeper about the implications of some of the ideas found in this paper.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature B.V. 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Anahuac UniversityMexico CityMexico
  2. 2.Royal Roads UniversityVictoriaCanada
  3. 3.Tecnologico de MonterreyMexico CityMexico

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