On Sept. 26-28, Wesleyan hosted a conference titled “Exercising Judgment in Ethics, Politics, and the Law: Hannah Arendt’s ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil,’ 50 Years Later.” The event honored the 50th anniversary of political theorist Hannah Arendt’s publication, ‘Eichmann in Jerusalem,’ a work she completed while she was a fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Advanced Studies (now the Center for the Humanities).
To acknowledge the intellectual range of Arendt’s book and her political philosophy, the interdisciplinary conference feature speakers from the U.S., Israel and Germany representing the fields of political theory, moral philosophy, intellectual history, law, Holocaust studies, feminist and gender studies, and literary theory. Dana Villa, professor of political science at the University of Notre Dame, spoke on “Eichmann in Jerusalem: Conscience, Normality and the Rule of Narrative.”
Richard Bernstein, professor of philosophy at The New School of Social Research, spoke on “Thought-defying Evil.”
On Sept. 23, Ulrich Plass, associate professor of German studies and Center for the Humanities faculty fellow, spoke on “Kant after Auschwitz, or, The Task of Thinking According to Arendt and Adorno.” Plass co-organized the Arendt conference with Sonali Chakravarti, assistant professor of government and Ethan Kleinberg, director of the Center for the Humanities, professor of history, professor of letters.
“Exercising Judgment” was made possible by the support of College of Letters major David Rhodes ’68. The event was hosted by the Center for the Humanities and co-sponsored by the College of Letters; Jewish and Israel Studies; German Studies; the Government Department; Social, Cultural and Critical Theory; and the German Academic Exchange Service, DAAD.