Hannah Arendt, German-born American philosopher, pioneered studies on totalitarianism and Jewish affairs.
Born in Hannover, Germany (1906) and earning her PhD in Philosophy from Heidelberg (1928), she navigated tumultuous times, fleeing Nazi persecution to the U.S. in 1941.
As an educator and author, Arendt delved into complex subjects like power, imperialism and evil.
Her celebrated works, including “Origins of Totalitarianism” and “Eichmann in Jerusalem,” offer nuanced reflections on politics and humanity.
Critiqued and revered, Arendt’s intellectual legacy, comprising her critique of evil’s “banality” and defense of active life, endures and provokes thought, demonstrating her indisputable impact on political philosophy.
Here are some of the top quotes by Hannah Arendt.
Best Hannah Arendt Quotes
Thinking does not lead to truth; truth is the beginning of thought. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Political questions are far too serious to be left to the politicians. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Action without a name, a who attached to it, is meaningless. ~ Hannah Arendt.
We are free to change the world and start something new in it. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The good things in history are usually of very short duration, but afterward have a decisive influence on what happens over long periods of time. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Fear is an emotion indispensable for survival. ~ Hannah Arendt.
It is in the nature of a group and its power to turn against independence, the property of individual strength. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Politically, the weakness of the argument has always been that those who choose the lesser evil forget very quickly that they chose evil. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Forgiveness is the only way to reverse the irreversible flow of history. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The climax of terror is reached when the police state begins to devour its own children, when yesterday’s executioner becomes today’s victim. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Bureaucracy, the rule of nobody. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Kierkegaard, Marx, and Nietzsche are for us like guideposts to a past which has lost its significance. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Plurality is the condition of human action because we are all the same, that is, human, in such a way that nobody is ever the same as anyone else who ever lived, lives, or will live. ~ Hannah Arendt.
There is a strange interdependence between thoughtlessness and evil. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Famous Hannah Arendt Quotes
The strength of even the strongest individual can always be overpowered by the many, who often will combine for no other purpose than to ruin strength precisely because of its peculiar independence. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Scientific and philosophic truth have parted company. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The ideal subject of totalitarian rule is not the convinced Nazi or the dedicated communist, but people for whom the distinction between fact and fiction, true and false, no longer exists. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power. ~ Hannah Arendt.
What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error. ~ Hannah Arendt.
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.
Top Hannah Arendt Quotes
The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The ideals of homo faber, the fabricator of the world, which are permanence, stability, and durability, have been sacrificed to abundance, the ideal of the animal laborans. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Courage is indispensable because in politics not life but the world is at stake. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any. ~ Hannah Arendt.
One must think with the body and the soul or not think at all. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The emotions I feel are no more meant to be shown in their unadulterated state than the inner organs by which we live. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Action, as distinguished from fabrication, is never possible in isolation; to be isolated is to be deprived of the capacity to act. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Love, in distinction from friendship, is killed, or rather extinguished, the moment it is displayed in public. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for meaning. And truth and meaning are not the same. The basic fallacy, taking precedence over all specific metaphysical fallacies, is to interpret meaning on the model of truth. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Popular Hannah Arendt Quotes
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.
Every generation, civilization is invaded by barbarians – we call them ‘children’. ~ Hannah Arendt.
For excellence, the presence of others is always required. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Men always want to be terribly influential, but I see that as somewhat external. Do I imagine myself being influential? No. I want to understand. And if others understand – in the same sense that I have understood – that gives me a sense of satisfaction, like feeling at home. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The Third World is not a reality but an ideology. ~ Hannah Arendt.
If men were ever to lose the appetite for meaning we call thinking, they would lose the capacity for asking all the unanswerable questions upon which every civilization is founded. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Of all human activities, only labor, and neither action nor work, is unending, progressing automatically in accordance with life itself and outside the range of willful decisions or humanly meaningful purposes. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Wise Hannah Arendt Quotes
Violence is an expression of impotence. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Under conditions of terror, most people will comply but some people will not. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Under conditions of tyranny it is far easier to act than to think. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The point, as Marx saw it, is that dreams never come true. ~ Hannah Arendt.
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.
Only the hypocrite is really rotten to the core. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Slavery became the social condition of the laboring classes because it was felt that it was the natural condition of life itself. Omnis vita servitium est. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Violence can always destroy power; out of the barrel of a gun grows the most effective command, resulting in the most instant and perfect obedience. What never can grow out of it is power. ~ Hannah Arendt.
When evil is allowed to compete with good, evil has an emotional populist appeal that wins out unless good men and women stand as a vanguard against abuse. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Men who no longer can make sure of the reality which they feel and experience through talking about it and sharing it with their fellow-men, live in the same nightmare of loneliness and uncertainty which, in a normal world, is the terrible fate of insanity. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Philosophy is called upon to compensate for the frustrations of politics and, more generally, of life itself. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Inspiring Hannah Arendt Quotes
No punishment has ever possessed enough power of deterrence to prevent the commission of crimes. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Action painting has to do with self-creation or self-definition or self-transcendence; but this dissociates it from self-expression, which assumes the acceptance of the ego as it is, with its wound and its magic. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Totalitarianism is never content to rule by external means, namely, through the state and a machinery of violence; thanks to its peculiar ideology and the role assigned to it in this apparatus of coercion, totalitarianism has discovered a means of dominating and terrorizing human beings from within. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Ideological thinking becomes emancipated from the reality that we perceive with our five senses, and insists on a ‘truer’ reality concealed behind all perceptible things, dominating them from this place of concealment and requiring a sixth sense that enables us to become aware of it. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Poetry, whose material is language, is perhaps the most human and least worldly of the arts, the one in which the end product remains closest to the thought that inspired it. ~ Hannah Arendt.
It is quite gratifying to feel guilty if you haven’t done anything wrong: how noble! Whereas it is rather hard and certainly depressing to admit guilt and to repent. ~ Hannah Arendt.
To think and to be fully alive are the same. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The saving grace of all really great gifts is that the persons who bear their burden remain superior to what they have done, at least as long as the source of creativity is alive. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Total loyalty is possible only when fidelity is emptied of all concrete content, from which changes of mind might naturally arise. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Power is actualized only when word and deed have not parted company. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Conscience is the anticipation of the fellow who awaits you if and when you come home. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Psychologically speaking, one may say that the hypocrite is too ambitious; not only does he want to appear virtuous before others, he wants to convince himself. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Thought-Provoking Hannah Arendt Quotes
Every thought is an afterthought. ~ Hannah Arendt.
To expect truth to come from thinking signifies that we mistake the need to think with the urge to know. ~ Hannah Arendt.
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.
Promises are the uniquely human way of ordering the future. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Thinking withdraws radically and for its own sake from this world and its evidential nature, whereas science profits from a possible withdrawal for the sake of specific results. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The end of rebellion is liberation, while the end of revolution is the foundation of freedom. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The things of the world become human for us only when we can discuss them with our fellows. We humanize what is going on in the world and in ourselves only by speaking of it, and in the course of speaking of it we learn to be human. ~ Hannah Arendt.
I’m more than ever of the opinion that a decent human existence is possible today only on the fringes of society, where one then runs the risk of starving or being stoned to death. In these circumstances, a sense of humor is a great help. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Wisdom is a virtue of old age, and it seems to come only to those who, when young, were neither wise nor prudent. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Profound Hannah Arendt Quotes
While strength is the natural quality of an individual seen in isolation, power springs up between men when they act together and vanishes the moment they disperse. ~ Hannah Arendt.
To speak of the impotence of power is no longer a witty paradox. ~ Hannah Arendt.
I know exactly what I want to write. I do not write until I do. Usually I write it all down only once. And that goes relatively quickly, since it really depends only on how fast I type. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Man’s chief moral deficiency appears to be not his indiscretions but his reticence. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Nihilism is but the other side of conventionalism; its creed consists of negations of the current so-called positive values, to which it remains bound. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution. ~ Hannah Arendt.
Solitude is the human condition in which I keep myself company. Loneliness comes about when I am alone without being able to split up into the two-in-one, without being able to keep myself company. ~ Hannah Arendt.
The extreme form of power is All against One, the extreme form of violence is One against All. ~ Hannah Arendt.
So these were the 82 top Hannah Arendt quotes and sayings.