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Three Essays: The Role of Experience in Hannah Arendt's Political Thought
by Jerome Kohn
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Ms. Stonebridge: Maybe your listeners were in Berkeley in 1955 being taught 1984 by Hannah Arendt. [ laughs ] I would love to hear. And she had — I think she read the novel earlier because she started rewriting the last chapter of Origins of Totalitarianism . So she’s getting that kind of analysis off Orwell. She’s in dialogue with Orwell, who’s, of course, dead by then. And he’s saying, “Actually, this is what happens.” The visional title of 1984 was The Last Man in Europe . I mean, if you can hear the Brexit resonance. [ laughs ]
In an increasingly globalised world, those ‘ideas and institutions’ will undoubtedly vary. The best place to start is by recognising that the humanity of those ‘minds and hearts’ is a function of their particularity, and that a meaningful cosmopolitan revival would rely on the fundamental difference of individual identities, not their alleged uniformity.