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By Lars Rensmann, Samir Gandesha

Hannah Arendt and Theodor W. Adorno, of the main influential political philosophers and theorists of the 20 th century, have been contemporaries with related pursuits, backgrounds, and a shared adventure of exile. but previously, no e-book has introduced them jointly. during this first comparative learn in their paintings, best students speak about divergences, divulge stunning affinities, and locate universal flooring among the 2 thinkers. This pioneering paintings recovers the relevance of Arendt and Adorno for modern political conception and philosophy and lays the basis for a severe figuring out of political modernity: from universalistic claims for political freedom to the abyss of genocidal politics.

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Without reducing Arendt’s and Adorno’s work to their personal experiences and their historical context, it would be difficult to overlook them. The experience of forced exile as German Jewish intellectuals in America,85 or their views of the concentration camps, which they barely escaped, are constitutive for their thinking. In her youth, Arendt, for instance, was hardly interested in politics or history. As a Jew, however, she saw herself thrown into politics after the Nazis took power in Germany and existentially threatened the life of Jews.

As a Jew, however, she saw herself thrown into politics after the Nazis took power in Germany and existentially threatened the life of Jews. ”86 This desperate experience of loss of citizenship is constitutive for Arendt’s brilliant analysis of the aporiae of human rights in The Origins of Totalitarianism. Here she interprets the fundamental loss of the “right to have rights,” the right to be a member of a political community, as the precondition of extermination. According to Arendt, the loss of citizenship also means the loss of worldliness; the loss of a polity makes humans politically superfluous and can, in the modern age of organized mankind, simultaneously be understood as an expulsion from humanity87 that leads to the nakedness of bare 26 lars rensmann and samir gandesha life (zōē).

40 In view of the deep and lasting influence of Benjamin upon their thinking, the struggle that broke out between Adorno and Arendt (and also Scholem) over Benjamin’s legacy may be more intelligible in retrospect. But my point here is to identify those “Benjaminian elements” in their thinking even beyond matters of intellectual influence and at a much deeper level of orientation in their thought. ” written in 1946 for Partisan Review. arendt and adorno 41 III Adorno’s “The Actuality of Philosophy” is a magisterial essay, astonishing in its self-confidence for one writing so early in his academic career.

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