A Woman to Know: Hannah Arendt

There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous. — Hannah


If you're in the mood to drink some wine and sit on a back porch and meditate on the meaning of life, Hannah Arendt is your girl.

And the great thing is that you can already meditate on that one phrase, "the meaning of life." Because, as Hannah would love to argue, what distinguishes "meaning" from "truth?" What separates "Man" from simple "men?" How do you define "known" versus "unknown?" When do you exhibit "free will" of your actual own free will? These are the questions Hannah explored in her vast body of creative work, which spans political theory to cultural criticism to philosophy to literature and back. Her collection of essays, Men in Dark Times, of course also features women in dark times, from the Isak Dinesen to Rosa Luxemburg.

A selection of Hannah Arendtisms for your next wine-porch-meaning-or-truth party:

  • "In politics, love is a stranger."

  • "Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom."

  • "Political questions are far too serious to be left to politicians."

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

  • "Action without a name, a who attached to it, is meaningless."

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Thank you to Adam Kushner for recommending today's woman to know! Adam works with me at The Washington Post, and he also provides the best New Orleans restaurant list in the entire world. <3

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