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Cummings on Art, Life, and Being Unafraid to Feel, The Writing of “Silent Spring”: Rachel Carson and the Culture-Shifting Courage to Speak Inconvenient Truth to Power, Timeless Advice on Writing: The Collected Wisdom of Great Writers, A Rap on Race: Margaret Mead and James Baldwin’s Rare Conversation on Forgiveness and the Difference Between Guilt and Responsibility, The Science of Stress and How Our Emotions Affect Our Susceptibility to Burnout and Disease, Mary Oliver on What Attention Really Means and Her Moving Elegy for Her Soul Mate, Rebecca Solnit on Hope in Dark Times, Resisting the Defeatism of Easy Despair, and What Victory Really Means for Movements of Social Change, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, Hannah Arendt on Loneliness as the Common Ground for Terror and How Tyrannical Regimes Use Isolation as a Weapon of Oppression, Hannah Arendt on Human Nature vs. Culture, What Equality Really Means, and How Our Language Confers Reality Upon Our Experience, Lying in Politics: Hannah Arendt on Deception, Self-Deception, and the Psychology of Defactualization, Famous Writers' Sleep Habits vs. When Hannah Arendt died in December 1975, she was known primarily because of the controversy about her report of the trial of Adolf Eichmann and the phrase “the banality of evil”. Human rights exist to the degree that they are respected by people in relations with each other and by governments in relations with their citizens. Both the UN and the UDHR work in the name of freedom, that is, the protection and promotion of human rights, through the universal recognition and respect of which men and women can live free. This political world, which Ardent says is sustained only by continual action, is crucial to freedom because, “Men are free—as distinguished from their possessing the gift of freedom—as long as they act […] for to be free and to act are the same” (“What is freedom?” 151). Reeling from the atrocities of World War II, world leaders vowed to never again let man suffer such violations of his naturally endowed rights. You Kant Tell Me What To Do: The Rights and Obligations of Campus Protests. Hannah Arendt . 16 Nov. 2014. Adopted by the UN General Assembly on December 10, 1948 (“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights History”), the UDHR served as a complement to the creation of the United Nations, a cohort of nations whose primary objectives lay in the active maintenance of international peace and human rights. There is no foolproof method to secure freedom for the masses. In more human terms, this means that whenever you buy a book on Amazon from a link on here, I receive a small percentage of its price, which goes straight back into my own colossal biblioexpenses. The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil. Is Our Obsession with Innovation Destroying Our Universities? In a simplified analysis of the events, on December 15, 2013 politically motivated violence erupted in South Sudan’s capital city, Juba, when President Salva Kiir declared that soldiers loyal to former deputy President Riek Machar had tried to launch a coup. Her work considered historical and contemporary political events, such as the rise and fall of Nazism, and drew conclusions about the relation between the individual and society. ), The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001, p.135 2 According to Arendt, action and speech are so closely related because the agent discloses himself through them. If men were not equal, they could neither understand each other and those who came before them nor plan for the future and foresee the needs … Hannah Arendt's challenge to Adolf Eichmann. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. Web. Four months later the UDHR was implemented, with eight nations abstaining from the vote and zero dissents (“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights History”). The conflict that occurred in one country destabilized a region” (Dallaire). Speech, Action, and the Human Condition: Hannah Arendt on How We Invent Ourselves and Reinvent the World, The Snail with the Right Heart: A True Story, Essential Life-Learnings from 14 Years of Brain Pickings, Singularity: Marie Howe’s Ode to Stephen Hawking, Our Cosmic Belonging, and the Meaning of Home, in a Stunning Animated Short Film, The Cosmic Miracle of Trees: Astronaut Leland Melvin Reads Pablo Neruda’s Love Letter to Earth’s Forests, How Kepler Invented Science Fiction and Defended His Mother in a Witchcraft Trial While Revolutionizing Our Understanding of the Universe, Emily Dickinson’s Electric Love Letters to Susan Gilbert, Rebecca Solnit’s Lovely Letter to Children About How Books Solace, Empower, and Transform Us, Fixed vs. Growth: The Two Basic Mindsets That Shape Our Lives, In Praise of the Telescopic Perspective: A Reflection on Living Through Turbulent Times, A Stoic’s Key to Peace of Mind: Seneca on the Antidote to Anxiety, The Courage to Be Yourself: E.E. Sensationalizing Pseudoscience: The Eugenic Movement’s Restriction of Freedom, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern as Existential Antiheroes and de Beauvoir’s Subman, Cogito Ergo Sum: The Responsibility of Self-Liberation, Defining Martin Luther King, Jr. as an Existentialist Hero. Subscribe to this free midweek pick-me-up for heart, mind, and spirit below — it is separate from the standard Sunday digest of new pieces: “An honorable human relationship — that is, one in which two people have the right to use the word ‘love’ — is a process, delicate, violent, often terrifying to both persons involved, a process of refining the truths they can tell each other,” Adrienne Rich wrote in her piercing 1975 meditation on how relationships refine our truths. Her many books and articles have had a lasting influence on political theory and philosophy. Only with a completely organized humanity could the loss of home and political status become identical with expulsion from humanity all together. Failure to confront an abuse of human rights in Rwanda in an event that displaced millions both physically and emotionally has perpetuated in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and serves as a glaring reminder of the world’s deliberate neglect for freedom and lives in 1994. The short answer is no, not even close to enough. One need look no farther than the 1994 Rwandan Genocide and the 2013 crisis in South Sudan to understand shortcomings of the UN and its struggle to implement the UDHR on a global stage. The idea of plurality is therefore critical to Arendt’s definition of freedom, for if man is to act—to express himself through his words and deeds—he must exist in a pluralistic realm, which in turn allows him to live among others in a variety of relationships—romantic, educational, and political alike. A failure to uphold freedom in one instance became an invitation for evil to exploit freedom in another. Change ), German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt wrote at length on freedom and its relation to human rights. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. 20 Nov. 2014. In the film’s climactic speech, Arendt concluded, “The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge but the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly.” Arendt’s final work, The Life of The Mind, largely focuses on this difference between knowing and thinking. The film centers on the life of German-Jewish philosopher and political theorist Hannah Arendt. Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. The language and principles set forth in the UDHR can hardly be denied, yet in presupposing a universal definition of freedom the declaration loses traction, especially in stating, “whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge” (“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights Document”). Web. London: Oxford UP, 1963. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political philosophers of the 20th century. It has remained free and ad-free and alive thanks to patronage from readers. Not only did UN forces disengage from the situation of mass bloodshed, but on April 22, Dallaire received news that UN forces in the country would be reduced to a “skeleton force (some 450 personnel of all ranks)”, therefore diminishing their presence to a point that endangered the lives of UN personnel left behind (Berdal). (Photo Credit: darkroom.baltimoresun). Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political thinkers of the 20th century. This insertion is not forced upon us by necessity, like labor, and it is not prompted by utility, like work. We do not yet know whether this situation is final. —. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. As of 2014, 193 nation states are members of the UN and claim to uphold the UDHR (“Members, United Nation, Growth, History of Organization”). Speech and that actions that arise from speech are certainly among the highest and most distinctive human traits, and no one has made this more clear to me than Hannah Arendt. These attacks upon civilians, which defy human rights law outright, were the beginning of a rapid deterioration of the humanitarian situation in South Sudan. “South Sudan: Massacres, Unlawful Killings, Pillage.” Human Rights Watch. It has been fifty years since Hannah Arendt published the final version of her essay ... Go to YouTube and watch President Kennedy’s speech at Rice University announcing the program to land a man on the moon, and then ask yourself how many of today’s youth would understand the spirit of his words. The actualization of freedom on a universal scale is far more complex than our current global ‘solutions’ might imply. Until every nation-state is able to understand the basic concept of freedom in the same way, then it is impossible to uphold any type of universal freedom on the basis of this document. If man commits to fostering these principles and pursuing a universal definition of freedom not only in the name of human rights, but also in the name of mankind, then perhaps the world’s people will be able to experience a birth into the realm of freedom. -Eleanor Roosevelt, 28 September 1948, Paris, France. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Law.” UN News Center. No gift is more valuable to have received in this age of increasing authoritarianism and deception in the public realm than Arendt's guidance about the value of speech and action in the public realm. Brain Pickings has a free Sunday digest of the week's most interesting and inspiring articles across art, science, philosophy, creativity, children's books, and other strands of our search for truth, beauty, and meaning. Since its inception, according to the official website for the UDHR, the document “continues to be an inspiration to us all whether in addressing injustices, in times of conflicts, in societies suffering repression, and in our efforts towards achieving universal enjoyment of human rights” (“The Universal Declaration of Human Rights and Law”). Web. Speech and action reveal this unique distinctness. Literary Productivity, Visualized, 7 Life-Learnings from 7 Years of Brain Pickings, Illustrated, Anaïs Nin on Love, Hand-Lettered by Debbie Millman, Anaïs Nin on Real Love, Illustrated by Debbie Millman, Susan Sontag on Love: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Susan Sontag on Art: Illustrated Diary Excerpts, Albert Camus on Happiness and Love, Illustrated by Wendy MacNaughton, The Silent Music of the Mind: Remembering Oliver Sacks, the crucial difference between how art and science illuminate life, “relationship is the fundamental truth of this world of appearance,”, taxonomy of the seven levels of personhood, the crucial difference between truth and meaning, how tyrants use isolation as a weapon of oppression, our only effective antidote to the normalization of evil. The UDHR cannot be effective unless all those who pledge to uphold it can understand the dignity of human beings and their right to both act and appear in the public sphere. In all other performances speech plays a subordinate role, as a means of communication or a mere accompaniment to something that could also be achieved in silence. In a sentiment which Rebecca Solnit would come to echo half a century later in her immensely vitalizing Hope in the Dark, where she asserted that “the grounds for hope are in the shadows, in the people who are inventing the world while no one looks, who themselves don’t know yet whether they will have any effect,” Arendt looks back on the history of humanity’s great intellectual and political revolutions, and adds: It certainly is not without irony that those whom public opinion has persistently held to be the least practical and the least political members of society should have turned out to be the only ones left who still know how to act and how to act in concert. Plurality therefore encompasses the seemingly contradictory condition of humanity: every man is simultaneously equal and distinct. This article is more than 9 years old . You can beam some bit-love my way: 197usDS6AsL9wDKxtGM6xaWjmR5ejgqem7. The world’s nations may not all understand the true definition of freedom—as the ability of both men and women to appear, act, and share opinions in the public sphere—but the language and standards set forth in the UDHR are absolutely necessary in beginning to change the mindset of those who view ‘freedom’ as something different. Without the disclosure of the agent in the act, action loses its specific character and becomes one form of achievement among others. Should Israel have pursued Nazi SS-Obersturmbannführer in … 20 Nov. 2014. By the end of February 2014, just two months after the onset of disorder, the total displacement of South Sudanese had grown to more than 900,000 persons, not to mention the more than 3.2 million people considered to be in a state of ‘acute’ food insecurity (“South Sudan: Massacres”). “What Is Freedom?” Between Past and Future. But “Home To Roost” is, as one of Arendt’s last public lectures and publications, something of her final testament, a warning that the grand experiment in freedom that is the American Republic was in danger of coming to an end. It is distributed by Zeitgeist Films in the United States, where it opened theatrically on 29 May 2013. If this labor makes your life more livable in any way, please consider aiding its sustenance with a donation. UN commander of peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, Roméo Dallaire, stands with the skulls of victims of the 1994 Rwandan genocide. The answer remains no, but the UN and UDHR are crucial first steps towards the actualization of a world in which all men are free, as they were born to be. 24 Nov. 2014 In this case, a failure to ensure freedom has left millions in terror, on the brink of death, or dead. That indelible relationship between speech and action in an honorable existence is what Hannah Arendt (October 14, 1906–December 4, 1975) examines throughout The Human Condition (public library) — the immensely influential 1958 book that gave us Arendt on the crucial difference between how art and science illuminate life. The Human Condition remains an indispensable read. Free to Share. In an example that brings human rights into the present day, we might consider South Sudan and the issues that there arose with the UN in 2013. The film is a tribute. We are, however, making progress in a positive direction. “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to … In the words of Hannah Arendt “Only where words and deeds have not parted company, where words are not empty and deeds are not brutal. In The Context of War, Do The Ends Ever Justify The Means? ( Log Out /  / Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998. “The Universal Declaration of Human Rights History.” UN News Center. 16 Nov. 2014. Many felt that a film about Hannah Arendt should actually start with a speech. Action as the realization of freedom is therefore rooted in natality, in the fact that each birth represents a new beginning and the introduction of novelty in the world” (d’Entreves). Roméo Dallaire, commander of UN peacekeeping forces in Rwanda, notes in his memoir of the event entitled Shake Hands with the Devil the need for and subsequent abandonment of all help in Rwanda. It may be stimulated by the presence of others whose company we may wish to join, but it is never conditioned by them; its impulse springs from the beginning which came into the world when we were born and to which we respond by beginning something new on our own initiative. 24 Nov. 2014. Men, as political animals, organize through community primarily for the sake of action, which Arendt defines in The Human Condition as “the only activity that goes on directly between men without the intermediary of things or matter” (The Human Condition 7). 20 Nov. 2014. Violence soon spread throughout the country, generating mass panic among citizens (“South Sudan: Massacres”). Do the UN and UDHR do enough? In fact, she examines the vital complementarity of the universal and the unique. More than sixty years later, people across the globe continue to be dehumanized and slaughtered, denied the right to freedom, and expelled from humanity as stateless nomads. Two years later, during the conflict in December 2013, this led to confusion and misconception about the objectives of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), as allegations of UNMISS being partial and aiding anti-government forces surfaced and fueled a growing anti-UN sentiment in the country (Giovanni). Through them, men distinguish themselves instead of being merely distinct; they are the modes in which human beings appear to each other, not indeed as physical objects, but qua men. “South Sudan: UN Moves on Political and Peacekeeping Fronts to Staunch Fighting.” UN News Center. The Human Condition. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. Academic Search Premier. “UDHR Drafters.” UN News Center. Wherever the relevance of speech is at stake, matters become political by definition, for speech is what makes man a political being. The South Sudanese have been forced to flee from their homeland for fear of ethnically motivated violence and essentially face, as Arendt says, “expulsion from humanity all together” (Origins of Totalitarianism 297). In acting and speaking, men show who they are, reveal actively their unique personal identities and thus make their appearance in the human world… This disclosure of “who” in contradistinction to “what” somebody is — his qualities, gifts, talents, and shortcomings, which he may display or hide — is implicit in everything somebody says and does. During South Sudan’s transitional period into nationhood, the UN supported the implementation of the CPA. (the fact that we are born into the world). Walking on Common Ground – Approaching Native American Civil Rights, “Release Ourselves Into the Nothing”: How Existentialists Handle Freedom, The Implications of Existentialist Philosophy in the Egyptian and Tunisian Revolutions, Malala and Bhutto Challenge The Oppression of Women in the Arab World, Flower on the Precipice: An Examination of Southern Secession. Web. How was it that the world stood by and turned a blind eye to the brutal murder of approximately one million innocent men, women, and children in their homes, churches, and schools? Dallaire said, “I cannot imagine a greater tragedy than the Rwandan genocide, but this conflict, which has resulted in over 5.5 million deaths in the Congo, continues to worsen. In his memoir, Dallaire describes the late days of the genocide as living in a, “cesspool of guts, severed limbs, flesh-eating dogs and vermin” during which each trip from UN headquarters was like a “decent into the inferno” (Berdal). In her final chapter, on the political ethics of actualized plurality, Loidolt addresses criticisms of Arendt 'inspired by the Frankfurt school' (233) and elaborates the 'implicit ethics' in Arendt's political thinking that many critics have claimed is lacking. With an understanding of shared heritage, is it important that to ask: are we, as a collective human body, doing enough to realize freedom for our fellow global citizens? Here's an example. But we have not changed so much: Arendt’s essays remain strikingly relevant today. Print. Arendt examines the dual root of speech and action: Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction. In a passage that calls to mind philosopher Amelie Rorty’s taxonomy of the seven levels of personhood, Arendt suggests that action is what propels us from static selves to dynamic agents of change, and considers the immense potential of that agency: The smallest act in the most limited circumstances bears the seed of the same boundlessness, because one deed, and sometimes one word, suffices to change every constellation. “Members, United Nation, Growth, History of Organization.” UN News Center. Hannah Arendt by Fred Stein, 1944 (Photograph courtesy of the Fred Stein Archive) Arendt examines the dual root of speech and action: Human plurality, the basic condition of both action and speech, has the twofold character of equality and distinction.

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