Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

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Philosophy Now
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Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by Philosophy Now » Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:50 pm

Shai Tubali considers the roots and implications of Arendt’s active philosophy.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/125/Hannah_Arendt_and_the_Human_Duty_to_Think

tbieter
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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by tbieter » Wed Mar 28, 2018 10:05 pm

Philosophy Now wrote:
Wed Mar 28, 2018 9:50 pm
Shai Tubali considers the roots and implications of Arendt’s active philosophy.

https://philosophynow.org/issues/125/Ha ... y_to_Think
This is an excellent article. Arendt's writings are neglected. Justice John Paul Stevens, in advocating the repeal of the Second amendment to the Constitution, shows that he has not thought deeply about the right to self-preservation, or self-defense,
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/27/opin ... dment.html
"Active thinking is a highly engaged form of thinking that prepares one to act in the real world. But more than that, active thinking is in itself already a form of action, since in the very act of thinking in this manner, one is aware that one is a responsible participant in the world. While often thinking is conceived of as a form of retreat from the world, disengaging from the flow of events and shifting to a silent introspection, active thinking is like a commitment to think responsibly: to move away from the comfortable bystander perspective and understand that it is only through engagement that we can rightly judge.

Thus for Arendt, thinking became a tool with which people can bring new awareness into their actions. This is the opposite of the aimless and involuntary type of thinking. With Arendt, thinking has become a powerful tool of engagement."

"At his trial Eichmann revealed himself as having no capacity to think or to will independently. He had renounced responsibility, and even this renunciation was none of his concern. (He could however mechanically recite moral maxims – which only shows how useless a moral maxim is without thinking.) When testifying factually and remorselessly that he had only obeyed another’s will, he was saying that he was not a real person. For this reason, Arendt felt that Eichmann’s deeds were both unpunishable and unforgivable: there was no person left whom one could forgive. More than that, noting Eichmann’s bureaucratic mentality, she judged him incapable of telling right from wrong, and so, at least in a sense, not truly ‘guilty’. To be considered guilty, Eichmann had to be conscious of the nature of his crimes; yet his deeper crime was that he had stopped thinking."


"

d63
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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by d63 » Thu May 03, 2018 8:36 pm

"The Imagination then I consider either as primary, or secondary. The primary Imagination I hold to be the living power and prime agent of all human perception, and as a repetition in the finite mind of the eternal act of creation in the infinite I AM. The secondary Imagination I consider as an echo of the former, co-existing with the conscious will, yet still as identical with the primary in the kind of its agency, and differing only in degree, and in the mode of its operation. It dissolves, diffuses, dissipates, in order to recreate: or where this process is rendered impossible, yet still at all events it struggles to idealize and to unify. It is essentially vital, even as all objects (as objects) are essentially fixed and dead.

FANCY, on the contrary, has no other counters to play with, but fixities and definites. The fancy is indeed no other than a mode of memory emancipated from the order of time and space; while it is blended with, and modified by that empirical phaenomenon of the will, which we express by the word Choice. But equally with the ordinary memory the Fancy must receive all its materials ready made from the law of association." -from Coleridge's Biographia Literaria

Now what I want to do is contextualize a couple of points made in Shai Tubali’s PN article, “Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think”:

“Many complain nowadays that their thinking is too active. What they mean is they feel that their brain is chattering with itself too much; that there are too many thoughts of worry and distress, frustration and struggle, going on in their mind. They then try to quieten their stormy over-thinking through different methods of meditation or relaxation. Indeed, quietude in one’s mind, especially when life’s challenges are unbearably intense, sounds a very nice state to be in. However, Arendt’s reflections tell us the very opposite: that our thinking is often not active enough – that people tend to shut down the activity of right thinking and judging. In light of Arendt’s own thinking, it becomes clear that most of the time we are not really actively thinking, we are daydreaming. Daydreaming may be intense at times, yet it does not help us develop a thinking which leads us to wakefully engage with the world. Thinking as an act of gathering one’s mental forces in order to understand or to realize something for oneself, is a relatively rare phenomenon in peoples’ lives.”

And:

“Things become more complicated when we realize that cognitive ease is also associated with truthfulness, and that our telling right from wrong is too often guided by the hidden wish of the brain not to think too much about things. According to research, most of our judgments are made by the brain’s lazy system of reactive thinking, not at all by our capacity to deeply engage in consideration and thoughtful observation. Therefore the brain’s default position is that an easy answer is also a true answer, and that a quick judgment is a right judgment.”

This, of course, was in reference to Arendt’s observations on Nazism and the Nuremburg Trials and pretty much backs my sense of Avid Neiwert’s Alt-America: The Rise of the Radical Right in the Age of Trump –a book I highly recommend. Throughout it all, you get a sense of the role that fancy is playing in it all (that is as compared to imagination which would require the hicks to see things from the immigrant’s perspective (in that there is a kind of loose, instinct-based way of thinking on their part. Most notable was Neiwert’s point about how the hero and martyr archetypes play a major role in not only militia-type uprisings (such as Ruby Ridge), but mass shootings as well. In fact, the Alt-Right MO has become a notably useful model for criminologists for explaining many of the mass shootings we are experiencing today.

And we can see the genealogy and connection with Nazi Germany given the kind of ecstatic embrace of mythology (Think Wagner’s Ride of the Valkeries here (which was likely the main appeal of it to Heidegger and Jung.

(At the same time, as my respected peer and colleague, Lewis, pointed out to me: not all archetypes are bad or necessarily based on pure fancy. As Jung pointed out, in his attempt to pre-empt attacks that he was being less than scientific, many are rooted in our biological systems, most notably the brain. And in his defense, our minds (via the brain (are always acting in defense of our bodies.)

Where I depart with Arendt is her failure to recognize fancy as a steppingstone to imagination. We get to the point she wants us to be (imagination (by working our way beyond fancy which we can never truly escape. As Coleridge, his self, also said:

“It’s alright to build castles in the air. The point is to build foundations under them.”

There is simply no way of getting to imagination (or “thinking as compared to daydreaming” as Arendt put it (without working through the process of fancy.

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by A_Seagull » Thu May 03, 2018 9:41 pm

Whil3e thinking is certainly an important human activity, as a duty it comes well beneath the human duty to drink.

d63
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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by d63 » Wed May 09, 2018 1:55 am

A_Seagull wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 9:41 pm
Whil3e thinking is certainly an important human activity, as a duty it comes well beneath the human duty to drink.
Or maybe our duty is to put our vices to work for us.......

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by -1- » Wed May 09, 2018 2:52 am

d63 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:55 am
A_Seagull wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 9:41 pm
Whil3e thinking is certainly an important human activity, as a duty it comes well beneath the human duty to drink.
Or maybe our duty is to put our vices to work for us.......
Why do humans have duties or a duty in the first place? It smacks of guilt-facing ethics.

"It is a duty of cattle and pigs to be eaten."

"It is the duty of the sun to rise every day in the east."

"It is the duty of every woman and man on the face of the Earth to tell everyone else what to do."

"It is the duty of every other man and woman to do whatever they pretty well please like."

"It is a duty of the philosopher to point at the futility of all sweeping "end-all-be-all" ethics theories."

"It is the duty of the beauty to eat a smoothy with a cutie."

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A_Seagull
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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by A_Seagull » Wed May 09, 2018 4:19 am

-1- wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 2:52 am
d63 wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:55 am
A_Seagull wrote:
Thu May 03, 2018 9:41 pm
Whil3e thinking is certainly an important human activity, as a duty it comes well beneath the human duty to drink.
Or maybe our duty is to put our vices to work for us.......
Why do humans have duties or a duty in the first place? It smacks of guilt-facing ethics.

"It is a duty of cattle and pigs to be eaten."

"It is the duty of the sun to rise every day in the east."

"It is the duty of every woman and man on the face of the Earth to tell everyone else what to do."

"It is the duty of every other man and woman to do whatever they pretty well please like."

"It is a duty of the philosopher to point at the futility of all sweeping "end-all-be-all" ethics theories."

"It is the duty of the beauty to eat a smoothy with a cutie."
Yes, the concept of duty is one of propaganda; trying to bend others to one's will, or possibly just trying to make oneself feel important.

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by -1- » Wed May 09, 2018 1:38 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 4:19 am

Yes, the concept of duty is one of propaganda; trying to bend others to one's will, or possibly just trying to make oneself feel important.
Better said than my verbose bitterness. Thanks.

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A_Seagull
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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by A_Seagull » Wed May 09, 2018 11:35 pm

-1- wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 1:38 pm
A_Seagull wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 4:19 am

Yes, the concept of duty is one of propaganda; trying to bend others to one's will, or possibly just trying to make oneself feel important.
Better said than my verbose bitterness. Thanks.
How about this one...

It is the duty of philosophers to be truthful.

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by -1- » Thu May 10, 2018 11:24 pm

A_Seagull wrote:
Wed May 09, 2018 11:35 pm

How about this one...

It is the duty of philosophers to be truthful.
Propaganda and logic coincide.

Moralistic pressure and reasonable expectations coincide.

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by -1- » Thu May 10, 2018 11:28 pm

How about this one:

"The philosopher's duty is to have a huge, throbbing, red-hot erection when wisdom comes on to him, and then the philosopher's duty is to do the wisdom to rags."

As in "lover of wisdom".

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Re: Hannah Arendt and the Human Duty to Think

Post by Impenitent » Fri May 11, 2018 12:03 am

it is the duty of Spinal Tap to be heavy...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NFhgVeo ... oFOhA&t=38

-Imp

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