Hannah Arendt Quotes

Who the Hell is Hannah Arendt?

Johanna "Hannah" Cohn Arendt was a German philosopher and a Jewish Holocaust survivor. She is best known for her books 'The Origins of Totalitarianism', 'Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil' and 'The Human Condition'.

Born October 14, 1906
Died December 04, 1975

Books by Hannah Arendt


Best 40 Quotes by Hannah Arendt

“As citizens, we must prevent wrongdoing because the world in which we all live, wrong-doer, wrong sufferer and spectator, is at stake.”

Hannah Arendt

“Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it, and by the same token save it from that ruin which except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and the young, would be inevitable. And education, too, is where we decide whether we love our children enough not to expel them from our world and leave them to their own devices, nor to strike from their hands their chance of undertaking something new, something unforeseen by us, but to prepare them in advance for the task of renewing a common world.”

Hannah Arendt

“No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes.”

Hannah Arendt

“Only crime and the criminal, it is true, confront us with the perplexity of radical evil; but only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core.”

Hannah Arendt

“Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.”

Hannah Arendt

“Revolutionaries do not make revolutions! The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and when they can pick it up. Armed uprising by itself has never yet led to revolution.”

Hannah Arendt

“The distinction between violent and non-violent action is that the former is exclusively bent upon the destruction of the old, and the latter is chiefly concerned with the establishment of something new.”

Hannah Arendt

“The greatest evil perpetrated is the evil committed by nobodies, that is, by human beings who refuse to be persons.”

Hannah Arendt

“The point, as Marx saw it, is that dreams never come true.”

Hannah Arendt

“The third world is not a reality, but an ideology.”

Hannah Arendt

“Those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil.”

Hannah Arendt

“When all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.”

Hannah Arendt

“Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.”

Hannah Arendt

“Forgiveness is the only way to reverse the irreversible flow of history.”

Hannah Arendt

“Loving life is easy when you are abroad. Where no one knows you and you hold your life in your hands all alone, you are more master of yourself than at any other time.”

Hannah Arendt

“Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.”

Hannah Arendt

“The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.”

Hannah Arendt

“There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.”

Hannah Arendt

“Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think.”

Hannah Arendt

"Eichmann in Jerusalem" Quotes

“Evil comes from a failure to think. It defies thought for as soon as thought tries to engage itself with evil and examine the premises and principles from which it originates, it is frustrated because it finds nothing there. That is the banality of evil.”

Hannah Arendt
Eichmann in Jerusalem

“For politics is not like the nursery; in politics obedience and support are the same.”

Hannah Arendt
Eichmann in Jerusalem

Products by Hannah Arendt

“Good can be radical; evil can never be radical, it can only be extreme, for it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension yet – and this is its horror – it can spread like a fungus over the surface of the earth and lay waste the entire world. Evil comes from a failure to think.”

Hannah Arendt
Eichmann in Jerusalem

“The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.”

Hannah Arendt
Eichmann in Jerusalem

"The Human Condition" Quotes

“Action, as distinguished from fabrication, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act.”

Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition

“Love, by its very nature, is unworldly, and it is for this reason rather than its rarity that it is not only apolitical but antipolitical, perhaps the most powerful of all antipolitical forces.”

Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition

“The common prejudice that love is as common as "romance" may be due to the fact that we all learned about it first through poetry. But the poets fool us; they are the only ones to whom love is not only a crucial, but an indispensable experience, which entitles them to mistake it for a universal one.”

Hannah Arendt
The Human Condition

"The Life of the Mind" Quotes

“Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality, that is, against the claim on our thinking attention that all events and facts make by virtue of their existence.”

Hannah Arendt
The Life of the Mind

“The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.”

Hannah Arendt
The Life of the Mind

"The Origins of Totalitarianism" Quotes

“Before mass leaders seize the power to fit reality to their lies, their propaganda is marked by its extreme contempt for facts as such, for in their opinion fact depends entirely on the power of man who can fabricate it.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“Caution in handling generally accepted opinions that claim to explain whole trends of history is especially important for the historian of modern times, because the last century has produced an abundance of ideologies that pretend to be keys to history but are actually nothing but desperate efforts to escape responsibility.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“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 was possible and that nothing was true. 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 that 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 that the statement was a lie and would admire the leaders for their superior tactical cleverness.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“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.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the convinced Communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction and the distinction between true and false no longer exist.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The point is that both Hitler and Stalin held out promises of stability in order to hide their intention of creating a state of permanent instability.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“The true goal of totalitarian propaganda is not persuasion, but organization of the policy. What convinces masses are not facts, and not even invented facts, but only the consistency of the system of which they are presumably part.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“There is hardly a better way to avoid discussion than by releasing an argument from the control of the present and by saying that only the future will reveal its merits.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism

“Totalitarianism in power invariably replaces all first-rate talents, regardless of their sympathies, with those crackpots and fools whose lack of intelligence and creativity is still the best guarantee of their loyalty.”

Hannah Arendt
The Origins of Totalitarianism