This page features a selection of the best quotes by Hannah Arendt. All of these quotes are real and references are given after each quote.
Here are the best quotes by Arendt in no particular order:
Power can be thought of as the never-ending, self-feeding motor of all political action that corresponds to the legendary unending accumulation of money that begets money.
– The Origins of Totalitarianism, pt. 2, ch. 5
Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within.
– The Origins of Totalitarianism, pt. 3, ch. 10
A mixture of gullibility and cynicism had been an outstanding characteristic of mob mentality before it became an everyday phenomenon of masses. In an ever-changing, incomprehensible, world the masses had reached the point where they would, at the same time, believe everything and nothing, think that everything is possible and that nothing was true. The mixture in itself was remarkable enough, because it spelled the end of the illusion that gullibility was a weakness of unsuspecting primitive souls and cynicism the vice of superior and refined minds. Mass propaganda discovered that its audience was ready at all times to believe the worst, no matter how absurd, and did not particularly object to being deceived because it held every statement to be a lie anyhow. The totalitarian mass leaders based their propaganda on the correct psychological assumption that, under such conditions, one could make people believe the most fantastic statements one day, and trust if the next day they were given irrefutable proof of their falsehood, they would take refuge in cynicism; instead of deserting the leaders who had lied to them, they would protest that they had known all along the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.
– The Origins of Totalitarianism, pt. 3, ch. 11
The sad truth of the matter is that most evil is done by people who never made up their minds to be or do either evil or good.
– The Life of the Mind, Thinking
Thought … is still possible, and no doubt actual, wherever men live under the conditions of political freedom. Unfortunately … no other human capacity is so vulnerable, and it is in fact far easier to act under conditions of tyranny than it is to think.
– The Human Condition, ch. 45
It was as though in those last minutes he [Adolf Eichmann] was summing up the lessons that this long course in human wickedness had taught us—the lesson of the fearsome, word-and-thought-defying banality of evil.
– Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, ch. 15
If you want to learn more about Arendt, check out the following pages:
- The Best Books on or by Hannah Arendt
- The Philosophy of Hannah Arendt: A collection of articles, videos, and podcasts
The Daily Idea aims to make learning about philosophy as easy as possible by bringing together the best philosophy resources from across the internet.
- Find the best philosophy books on a wide variety of topics with this collection of over 120 philosophy reading lists.
- Find free online philosophy articles, podcasts, and videos with this organised collection of 400+ free philosophy resources.
A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations – Lennox Johnson
Publisher’s Description: A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is a collection of the greatest thoughts from history’s greatest thinkers. Featuring classic quotations by Aristotle, Epicurus, David Hume, Friedrich Nietzsche, Bertrand Russell, Michel Foucault, and many more, A History of Western Philosophy in 500 Essential Quotations is ideal for anyone looking to quickly understand the fundamental ideas that have shaped the modern world.