Many social and political philosophers extensively study and attempt to identify the ways by which people make judgments. Prior to interpreting and further analyzing conclusions of judgment as noted by any significant philosopher, one must first obtain an understanding of the background and culture said philosopher was surrounded by. Our minds are malleable; opinions and values are most often shaped by societal norms, political structures, and retrospective assessment of past experiences. This paper will examine judgment as studied by Hannah Arendt while delving into the political afflictions that likely shaped her conclusions.
Hannah Arendt (born 1906) was a prominent political philosopher of her time. Born in Germany and ultimately landing in New York after making a lengthy stop in Paris, she surrounded herself with other intellectuals, those working to expand their minds and question norms. Arendt extensively studied Nazi regimes and specifically addresses the political superiority and hierarchy within them in her last popular work, The Life of the Mind. Arendt evolves her discussion by identifying three ways by which people contemplate: thinking, willing, and judging. Moving forward we will focus on thinking and judging, and the connection between the two.
Less relevant to this paper but worth mentioning is Arendt’s two-model theory. Arendt focuses on this theory of judgment largely in her previous works, but builds on it in The Life of the Mind. She focuses on two specific models from two different points of view, that of the doer and that of the watcher. She notes that the two opposing views often contradict each other. Moving from judgment as a political focus, Arendt migrates to judgment in terms applicable function, cl...
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... to make them. She recognizes that without thought, we are bound to strictly follow societal norms, because we have no ability to question to them. However, with thought and conscience combined, one can form a more personal and valid judgment, one that can be expressed to society without always conforming to it. For Arendt, thinking and imagination are key components of forming judgments. Without them, hasty judgments are drawn without room for question or more importantly, intellectual expansion.
Arendt, Hannah. The Life of the Mind. New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1978.
“Understanding and Politics.” Partisan Review, vol. 20, no. 4 (July–August
1953): 377–92. Reprinted in Essays in Understanding: 1930–1954.
Passerin, D'Entreves, Maurizio. "Hannah Arendt." Stanford University. Stanford
University, 27 July 2006. Web. 08 Dec. 2013.
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