65 Hannah Arendt Quotes On Success In Life

Hannah Arendt was a German-born American political theorist. Many of her books and articles have had a lasting influence on political theory and philosophy. Arendt is widely considered one of the most important political thinkers of the 20th century. These Hannah Arendt quotes will motivate you.

Best Hannah Arendt Quotes

  1. “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
  2. “The result of a consistent and total substitution of lies for factual truth is not that the lie will now be accepted as truth, and truth be defamed as lie, but that the sense by which we take our bearings in the real world – and the category of truth versus falsehood is among the mental means to this end – is being destroyed.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  3. “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
  4. “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
  5. “Evil thrives on apathy and cannot exist without it.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  6. “Politically speaking, tribal nationalism [patriotism] always insists that its own people are surrounded by ‘a world of enemies’ – ‘one against all’ – and that a fundamental difference exists between these people and all others. It claims its people to be unique, individual, incompatible with all others, and denies theoretically the very possibility of a common mankind long before it is used to destroy the humanity of man.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  7. “We are free to change the world and start something new in it.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  8. “The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  9. “Generally speaking, violence always arises out of impotence. It is the hope of those who have no power.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  10. “The chief qualification of a mass leader has become unending infallibility; he can never admit an error.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  11. “This is the precept by which I have lived: Prepare for the worst; expect the best; and take what comes.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  12. “One of the greatest advantages of the totalitarian elites of the twenties and thirties was to turn any statement of fact into a question of motive.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  13. “This inability to think created the possibility for many ordinary men to commit evil deeds on a gigantic scale, the like of which had never been seen before. The manifestation of the wind of thought is not knowledge but the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful from ugly. And I hope that thinking gives people the strength to prevent catastrophes in these rare moments when the chips are down.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  14. “The greatest enemy of authority, therefore, is contempt, and the surest way to undermine it is laughter.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  15. “The aim of totalitarian education has never been to instill convictions but to destroy the capacity to form any.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  16. “Truthfulness has never been counted among the political virtues, and lies have always been regarded as justifiable tools in political dealings.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  17. “There is a strange interdependence between thoughtlessness and evil.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  18. “Power corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together. When we say of somebody that he is ‘in power’ we actually refer to his being empowered by a certain number of people to act in their name. The moment the group, from which the power originated, to begin with … disappears, ‘his power’ also vanishes.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  19. “The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  20. “There are no dangerous thoughts; thinking itself is dangerous.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  21. “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
  22. “The most radical revolutionary will become a conservative the day after the revolution.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  23. “In the era of imperialism, businessmen became politicians and were acclaimed as statesmen, while statesmen were taken seriously only if they talked the language of successful businessmen.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  24. “Although tyranny…may successfully rule over foreign peoples, it can stay in power only if it destroys first of all the national institutions of its own people.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  25. “One must think with the body and the soul or not think at all.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  26. “Rage is by no means an automatic reaction to misery and suffering as such; no one reacts with rage to an incurable disease or to an earthquake or, for that matter, to social conditions that seem to be unchangeable. Only where there is reason to suspect that conditions could be changed and are not does rage arise.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  27. “Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  28. “Political questions are far too serious to be left to the politicians.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  29. “To think and to be fully alive are the same.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  30. “Slavery’s crime against humanity did not begin when one people defeated and enslaved its enemies (though of course, this was bad enough), but when slavery became an institution in which some men were ‘born free and others slave, when it was forgotten that it was man who had deprived his fellow-men of freedom, and when the sanction for the crime was attributed to nature.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  31. “where everybody is guilty, nobody is.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  32. “It is indeed my opinion now that evil is never “radical,” that it is only extreme, and that it possesses neither depth nor any demonic dimension. It can overgrow and lay waste the whole world precisely because it spreads like fungus on the surface. It is “thought-defying,” as I said, because thought tries to reach some depth, to go to the roots, and the moment it concerns itself with evil, it is frustrated because there is nothing. That is its “banality.” Only the good has depth and can be radical.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  33. “The practice of violence, like all action, changes the world, but the most probable change is a more violent world.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  34. “Even in the darkest of times we have the right to expect some illumination, and … such illumination may well come less from theories and concepts than from the uncertain, flickering, and often weak light that some men and women, in their lives and their works, will kindle under almost all circumstances and shed over the time-span that was given them on earth.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  35. “Under conditions of terror, most people will comply but some people will not.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  36. “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
  37. Education is the point at which we decide whether we love the world enough to assume responsibility for it and by the same token save it from that ruin which, except for renewal, except for the coming of the new and young, would be inevitable.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  38. “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
  39. “The presence of others who see what we see and hear what we hear assures us of the reality of the world and ourselves.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  40. “The trouble with lying and deceiving is that their efficiency depends entirely upon a clear notion of the truth that the liar and deceiver wishes to hide.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  41. “Revolutionaries do not make revolutions. The revolutionaries are those who know when power is lying in the street and then they can pick it up.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  42. “the public sphere is as consistently based on the law of equality as the private sphere is based on the law of universal difference and differentiation. Equality, in contrast to all that is involved in mere existence, is not given us, but is the result of human organization insofar as it is guided by the principle of justice. We are not born equal; we become equal as members of a group on the strength of our decision to guarantee ourselves mutually equal rights.” ~ Hannah Arendt quotes
  43. “The history of humanity is not a hotel where someone can rent a room whenever it suits him; nor is it a vehicle which we board or get out of at random. Our past will be for us a burden beneath which we can only collapse for as long as we refuse to understand the present and fight for a better future. Only then — but from that moment on — will the burden become a blessing, that is, a weapon in the battle for freedom.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  44. “Forgiveness is the key to action and freedom.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  45. “All political institutions are manifestations and materializations of power; they petrify and decay as soon as the living power of the people ceases to uphold them.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  46. “Clichés, stock phrases, adherence to conventional, standardized codes of expression and conduct have the socially recognized function of protecting us against reality.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  47. “I’m completely against [feminism]. I have no desire to give up my privileges.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  48. “No cause is left but the most ancient of all, the one, in fact, that from the beginning of our history has determined the very existence of politics, the cause of freedom versus tyranny.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  49. “The totalitarian attempt at global conquest and total domination has been the destructive way out of all impasses. Its victory may coincide with the destruction of humanity; wherever it has ruled, it has begun to destroy the essence of man.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  50. “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

  51. “Storytelling reveals meaning without committing the error of defining it.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  52. “It is better to suffer wrong than to do wrong, because you can remain the friend of the sufferer; who would want to be the friend of and have to live together with a murderer? Not even another murderer.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  53. “Where all are guilty, no one is; confessions of collective guilt are the best possible safeguard against the discovery of culprits, and the very magnitude of the crime the best excuse for doing nothing.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  54. “In order to go on living one must try to escape the death involved in perfectionism.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  55. “Bureaucracy, the rule of nobody.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  56. “Thinking does not lead to truth; truth is the beginning of thought.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  57. “… we have almost succeeded in leveling all human activities to the common denominator of securing the necessities of life and providing for their abundance. Whatever we do, we are supposed to do for the sake of “making a living;” such is the verdict of society, and the number of people, especially in the professions who might challenge it, has decreased rapidly. The only exception society is willing to grant is to the artist, who, strictly speaking, is the only “worker” left in a laboring society.” ~ Hannah Arendt quotes
  58. “And the distinction between violent and non-violent action is that the former is exclusively bent upon the destruction of the old, and the latter is chiefly concerned with the establishment of something new.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  59. “Every activity performed in public can attain an excellence never matched in privacy; for excellence, by definition, the presence of others is always required.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  60. “What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing” ~ Hannah Arendt

  61. “When we think of a criminal, we imagine someone with criminal motives. And when we look at Eichmann, he doesn’t actually have any criminal motives. Not what is usually understood by “criminal motives.” He wanted to go along with the rest. He wanted to say “we,” and going along with the rest and wanting-to-say-we like this were quite enough to make the greatest of all crimes possible. The Hitlers, after all, really aren’t the ones who are typical in this kind of situation–they’d be powerless without the support of others.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  62. “There always comes a point beyond which lying becomes counterproductive. This point is reached when the audience to which the lies are addressed is forced to disregard altogether the distinguishing line between truth and falsehood in order to be able to survive.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  63. “Man’s chief moral deficiency appears to be not his indiscretions but his reticence.” ~ Hannah Arendt

  64. “the greater the bureaucratization of public life, the greater will be the attraction of violence. In a fully developed bureaucracy, there is nobody left with whom one can argue, to whom one can represent grievances, on whom the pressures of power can be exerted. Bureaucracy is the form of government in which everybody is deprived of political freedom, of the power to act; for the rule by Nobody is not no-rule, and where all are equally powerless we have a tyranny without a tyrant.” ~ Hannah Arendt
  65. “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

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