The Cryptotheological Legacy of Hannah Arendt

Wednesday, 17 October 2018, 1:45pm - Friday, 19 October 2018, 1:00pm, IWM library
As a political thinker, Hannah Arendt rejected theocracy and any kind of fundamentalism as nihilistic and as a mistaken response to the challenges of modernity. However, her heterodox, subversive reading of the Jewish and Christian traditions encourages us to seek inter-faith dialogue and secularity as platforms for the self-limitation of any authority, be it religious or secular. The incoherence and contradictions within any religious tradition should enable the questioning of claims to a monopolist access to truth. Understood in this sense, a cryptotheological reading of Arendt offers a model in which the plurality of humankind is fully appreciated.
Arendt’s Jewish-German background – the fact that she studied theology with Romano Guardini and Rudolf Bultmann, that before the war she conceived her first writings within the philosophical and cultural context formed by the works of Hermann Cohen, Martin Buber, Franz Rosenzweig, Gershom Scholem, Hans Jonas, and Walter Benjamin – constitutes an important dimension in the reception of her work that has not received due attention. Her discussion of religion, theology, and secularisation has great relevance today, since she understood secularisation as the fortunate moment when religion and politics divorce – which for her also implies that religion still inspires politics in a meaningful way, though it no longer controls it or imposes religious laws.

Keynote Speech
October 17, 6:00pm
Sigrid Weigel
Traces and Transitions to Hannah Arendt’s Unwritten Book on Love

[Conference Program]


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