How Does Corporeality Inform Theorizing? Revisiting Hannah Arendt and the Banality of Evil
- 33 Downloads
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.
KeywordsBanality 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.
- Aharony, M. (2015). Hannah Arendt and the limits of total domination: The Holocaust, plurality, and resistance. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1958). The human condition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1966). The origins of totalitarianism. Orlando: Harcourt Inc.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1978). The life of the mind. San Diego: Harcourt Inc.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1994). Essays in understanding, 1930–1945: Formation, exile and totalitarianism. New York: Schocken Books.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (1996). Love and Saint Augustine. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. New York: Penguin Books.Google Scholar
- Arendt, H., & Jaspers, K. (1992). Hannah Arendt Karl Jaspers correspondence 1926–1969. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company.Google Scholar
- Barr, A. (2009, May 26). Rush Limbaugh: Sonya Sotomayor a ‘reverse racist,’ ‘hack’. Politico. Retrieved July 10, 2015 from http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0509/22983.html.
- Benhabib, S. (1990). Hannah Arendt and the redemptive power of narrative. Social Research, 57(1), 167–196.Google Scholar
- Benhabib, S. (2003). The reluctant modernism of Hannah Arendt. Lanham MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.Google Scholar
- Berger, P. L., & Luckmann, T. (2002). The social construction of reality. In C. Calhoun, L. Gerteis, J. Moody, S. Pfaff, & I. Virk (Eds.), Contemporary sociological theory (pp. 42–50). Malden: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (2004). Precarious life: The powers of mourning and violence. London: Verso.Google Scholar
- Butler, J. (2011, August 29) Hannah Arendt’s challenge to Adolf Eichmann. Retrieved July 14, 2015 from http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2011/aug/29/hannah-arendt-adolf-eichmann-banality-of-evil.
- d’Entreves, M. P. (2014) Hannah Arendt. In E. N. Zalta (Ed.), The Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. Retrieved July 11, 2015 from http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/.
- Diprose, R. (2002). Corporeal generosity: On giving with Nietzsche, Merleau-Ponty, and Levinas. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
- Ettinger, E. (1995). Hannah Arendt/Martin Heidegger. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
- Ezra, M. (2007). The Eichmann polemics: Hannah Arendt and her critics. Democratiya, 9(3), 141–169.Google Scholar
- Gewen, B. (2006, May 14). The everyman of genocide. The New York Times. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from https://www.nytimes.com/2006/05/14/books/review/14gewen.html.
- Gray, J. (2004, August 19) Eichmann: his life and crimes by David Cesarani. The Independent. Retrieved April 30, 2018 from https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/eichmann-his-life-and-crimes-by-david-cesarani-557208.html.
- Green, R. M. (1991). When is ‘everyone’s doing it’ a moral justification? Business Ethics Quarterly, 1(1), 75–93.Google Scholar
- Grosz, E. (1994). Volatile bodies: Toward a corporeal feminism. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Hayden, P. (2014). Hannah Arendt: Key concepts. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1962). Being and time. Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
- Heidegger, M. (1997). Kant and the problem of metaphysics (5th ed.). Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
- Inwood, M. (1997). Heidegger: A very short introduction. New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
- Kirsch, A. (2009, January 12). Beware of pity: Hannah Arendt and the power of the impersonal. The New Yorker. Retrieved July 15, 2015 from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2009/01/12/beware-of-pity.
- Kisiel, T. (2002). Rhetoric, politics, romance: Arendt and Heidegger, 1924-1926. In J. E. Swearingen & J. Cutting-Gray (Eds.), Extreme beauty: Aesthetics, politics, death (pp. 94–109). New York: Continuum.Google Scholar
- Kristeva, J. (2001). Hannah Arendt. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
- Ludz, U. (2014). Correspondencia 1925–1975 y otros documentos de los legados. Barcelona: Herder.Google Scholar
- Maier-Katkin, D. (2010). Stranger from abroad: Hannah Arendt, Martin Heidegger, friendship and forgiveness. New York: W.W. Norton & Company.Google Scholar
- Maier-Katkin, D., & Stoltfuz, D. (2013). Hannah Arendt on trial. The American Scholar. Retrieved July 15, 2015 from https://theamericanscholar.org/hannah-arendt-on-trial/#.VaqRj0I5lbs.
- Mulhall, S. (2005). Heidegger and being and time (2nd ed.). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
- O’Connor, S. (2009). Sotomayor challenged over lack of objectivity. Financial Times. Retrieved July 10, 2015 from http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/f6c46eb4-700d-11de-b835-00144feabdc0.html#axzz3ht37ZJe2.
- Reid, R., Colmore, B., Oppenheimer, P., Vieth, E., Ratffensperger, J., & Whelan, J. (1999). The banality of evil. The Wilson Quarterly, 23(1), 4–7.Google Scholar
- Shilling, C. (1993). The body and social theory. London: Sage.Google Scholar
- Sieff, M. (2010). Meeting of the minds. The Wilson Quarterly. Retrieved April 26, 2018 from https://wilsonquarterly.com/quarterly/summer-2010-inside-israel/meeting-of-the-minds/.
- Sotomayor, S. (2002). A Latina judge’s voice. Berkeley La Raza Law Journal, 13, 87–93.Google Scholar
- Steiner, G. (2003). Lessons of the masters. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
- Walsh, J. (2009, May 30). Obama defends Sotomayor on race. Salon. Retrieved November 1, 2015 from http://www.salon.com/2009/05/30/obama_defends_sotomayor/.
- Weisman, J., & Bendavid, N. (2009, May 28). Battle over Sotomayor heats up: As White House gathers backers, conservatives heighten attacks on judge’s record. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved July 10, 2015 from http://www.wsj.com/articles/SB124343590838058789.
- Young-Bruehl, E. (2004). Hannah Arendt. For the love of the world. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar