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April 25, 2022 63 min

Sean Illing talks with professor Lyndsey Stonebridge about the philosopher Hannah Arendt, author of The Origins of Totalitarianism. Arendt might be best known for coining the phrase “the banality of evil” in her reporting on the trial of Adolf Eichmann in 1961, but in this episode Sean and Lyndsey discuss Arendt's insights into the roots of mass movements, how her flight from Nazi occupation shaped her worldview, and how loneliness and isolation — which abound in our world today — can prepare a population for an authoritarian turn.

The Philosophers is a new monthly series from Vox Conversations. Each episode will focus on a philosophical figure or school of thought from the past, and discuss how their ideas can help us make sense of our modern world and lives today.

Host: Sean Illing (@seanilling), Interviews writer, Vox

Guest: Lyndsey Stonebridge (@lyndseystonebri), author; professor of humanities and human rights, University of Birmingham

Works by Hannah Arendt: 

  • The Origins of Totalitarianism (1951), with the inclusion of the chapter "Ideology and Terror" in 1953; Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963); The Human Condition (1958); "Home to Roost: A Bicentennial Address" (1975); "Personal Responsibility under Dictatorship" (1964)

  • Other References: 

  • The Judicial Imagination: Writing After Nuremberg by Lyndsey Stonebridge (Edinburgh University Press; 2011)
  • Placeless People: Writings, Rights, and Refugees by Lyndsey Stonebridge (Oxford; 2018)
  • Thinking Like Hannah Arendt by Lyndsey Stonebridge (Jonathan Cape; forthcoming 2022)
  • "A 1951 book about totalitarianism is flying off the shelves. Here's why" by Sean Illing (Vox; updated Jan. 30, 2019)
  • "Where loneliness can lead" by Samantha Rose Hill (Aeon; Oct. 16, 2020)
  • The Lonely Crowd by David Riesman (1950)
  • Immanuel Kant, Groundwork for the Metaphysics of Morals (1785) for the "categorical imperative"

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    This episode was made by: 

  • Producer: Erikk Geannikis
  • Editor: Amy Drozdowska
  • Deputy Editorial Director, Vox Talk: Amber Hall
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