Essays in Understanding: 1930–1954

Edited and with an introduction by Jerome Kohn. New York: Harcourt Brace & Company, 1994.


Few thinkers have addressed the political horrors and ethical complexities of the twentieth century with the insight and passionate intellectual integrity of Hannah Arendt. She was irresistible drawn to the activity of understanding, in an effort to endow historic, political, and cultural events with meaning. Essays in Understanding assembles many of Arendt’s writings from the 1930s, 1940s, and into the 1950s. Included here are illuminating discussions of St. Augustine, existentialism, Kafka, and Kierkegaard: relatively early examinations of Nazism, responsibility and guilt, and the place of religion in the modern world: and her later investigations into the nature of totalitarianism that Arendt set down after The Origins of Totalitarianism was published in 1951. The body of work gathered in this volume gives us a remarkable portrait of Arendt’s developments as a thinker—and confirms why her ideas and judgments remain as provocative and seminal today as they were when she first set them down.

Table of Contents:

Introduction by Jerome Kohn

•“What Remains? The Language Remains”: A Conversation with Günter Grass (1964)
•Augustine and Protestantism (1930)
•Philosophy and Sociology (1930)
•Søren Kierkegaard (1932)
•Friedrich von Gentz (1932)
•Berlin Salon (1932)
•On the Emancipation of Women (1933)
•Franz Kafka: A Revalulation (1944)
•Foreign Affairs in the Foreign-Language Press (1944)
•Approaches to the “German Problem” (1945)
•Organized Guilt and Universal Responsibility (1945)
•Nightmare and Flight (1945)
•Dilthey as Philosopher and Historian (1945)
•The Seeds of a Fascist International (1945)
•Christianity and Revolution (1945)
•Power Politics Triumphs (1945–46)
•No Longer and Not Yet (1946)
•What Is Existential Philosophy? (1946)
•French Existentialism (1946)
•The Ivory Tower of Common Sense (1946)
•The Image of Hell (1946)
•The Nation (1946)
•Dedication to Karl Jaspers (1948)
•Rand School Lecture (1948)
•Religion and the Intellectuals (1950)
•Social Science Techniques and the Study of Concentration Camps (1950)
•The Aftermath of Nazi Rule: Report from Germany (1950)
•The Egg Speaks Up (1951)
•At Table with Hitler (1951)
•Mankind and Terror (1953)
•Understanding and Politics (The Difficulties of Understanding) (1954)
•On the Nature of Totalitarianism: An Essay in Understanding (1954)
•Heidegger the Fox (1953)
•Understanding Communism (1953)
•Religion and Politics (1953)
•The Ex-Communists (1953)
•An Reply to Eric Voegelin (1953)
•Dream and Nightmare (1954)
•Europe and the Atom Bomb (1954)
•The Threat of Conformism (1954)
•Concern with Politics in Recent European Philosophical Thought (1954)

Google Books