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Thinking in Dark TimesHannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics$
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Roger Berkowitz, Jeffrey Katz, and Thomas Keenan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230754

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823230754.001.0001

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Thinking Big in Dark Times

Thinking Big in Dark Times

(p.221) Thinking Big in Dark Times
Thinking in Dark Times

Drucilla Cornell

Fordham University Press

At the heart of Arendt's work is her conviction that the European tradition of moral thought has crumbled, not because of the failure of human beings to live up to their standards, or even because of philosophical inadequacy. Rather, the tradition of human dignity has succumbed to the brutal reality of the 20th century, a reality that has undone the tradition by confronting us with acts and behavior that simply fall outside or beyond the reach of these measures or ideals. This chapter explores Arendt's judgment of modern European ideals. To do so it offers two examples of the role of moral and ethical ideals from the new South Africa. The first is the connection between the moral ideal of dignity, as it has been established as the Grundnorm of the entire South African Constitution. The second example is the South African Constitution's commitment of the current South African Constitutional Court to the ideal of humanity as this both demands and promotes a notion of cosmopolitan right.

Keywords:   Hannah Arendt, moral thought, South African Constitution, dignity, humanity, South Africa, ethics

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