Justice and punishment aren't related

Free will, responsibility and punishment with Hannah Arendt


Introduction: Judging and (legal) sentencing: A paradox of justice

1. Crime - Justice - Crime -

2. The connection between free will and responsibility in philosophy up to Hannah Arendt
2.1 Epictetus
2.2 Immanuel Kant
2.3 Friedrich Nietzsche
2.4 Jean-Paul Sartre

3. The punishment of Eichmann: How Hannah Arendt becomes inconsistent

4. Bibliography

Introduction: Judging and (legal) sentencing: A paradox of justice

“On August 14th, after 114 sessions, the main proceedings were completed. The court adjourned for four months and convened again on December 11 to deliver the verdict. With two days divided into five sessions, the three judges read the 244 paragraphs of the judgment. They dropped the accusation of conspiracy brought forward by the prosecution, which made Eichmann a 'major war criminal' who was automatically liable for everything connected with the 'Final Solution', but then found him guilty on all 15 counts with certain qualifications . "[1]

On May 31 of the following year, 1962, Adolf Eichmann was hanged in Jerusalem, his body burned and the ashes scattered in the Mediterranean, all within a few hours. His petition for clemency, which was received by the President of Israel on May 29th along with a number of other petitions for clemency, rejected the President (like everyone else). "The speed with which the death sentence was carried out was unusual," writes Hannah Arendt: it was not even time for the hangman's meal.[2] It almost works - considering the fact that Eichmann's lawyer, Dr. Servatius, made two attempts to save his client, and with one even could have been successful -[3]As if the court wanted to make the example that it had set itself.

Arendt writes in her report "Eichmann in Jerusalem" that the Jerusalem trial was actually a "show trial"[4] and justified this, among other things, with the main charge against Eichmann: the "crime against the Jewish people". Arendt is referring to Karl Jaspers, who stated that the "crime against the Jews is also a

Crimes against humanity "and that" the judgment about it can therefore only be represented by an authority that represents humanity. "[5] Why hadn't Eichmann been brought to an international court? It was not only this question that made the proceedings in Jerusalem open to Arendt's view. Questions such as those about unauthorized witnesses,[6] the actual limitation period for Eichmanns, which already expired in 1960

Deeds (at least according to Argentine law)[7] and that of the legally questionable arrest of Eichmann in Argentina: "In order to bring him to court, there was a clear violation of international law"[8], writes Arendt, which "was probably the last thing that could serve as a model for a future legal order."[9]

In the end, Eichmann was convicted of his "crimes against the Jewish people", but not for genocide. Reason: lack of evidence, which Hannah Arendt considers "difficult to understand" because "the extermination of the gypsies was well known".[10] The assumption that the Jewish court could under certain circumstances be biased and therefore more suitable as a witness than a judge, Arendt dismisses as "public opinion" before the start of the trial,[11] The fact that the court did not act and judge impartially cannot be denied on the basis of the few points listed above. The decision in favor of the death penalty was - as an example - ultimately the decision that had the least to do with Eichmann's deeds and person. It is all the stranger that Arendt himself suggests the following, in her opinion, optimal words to justify the judgment to the court - "if it is true that 'right must not just happen, but visibly happen'" "[12]:

“[...] as if you [Eichmann] and your superiors had the right to decide who should and who shouldn't inhabit the earth. No member of the human race can be expected to inhabit the earth together with those who want this and put it into practice. This is the reason, the only reason, that you have to die. "[13]

If Arendt agrees only a few pages beforehand with the chief prosecutor Gideon Hausner's statement that "[...] the judge [could] hate the crime and still do justice to the criminal", she apparently seems to be clear about this (note the word "nonetheless") that crime and justice in their practice can under certain circumstances be very close in their ethical reprehensibility. It is illogical that, after 15 chapters of discussion, analysis and criticism of the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem, she still pleads for the death penalty (even if only between the lines and cleverly packaged as non-own words) is illogical. In this aspect, the philosopher and self-declared passionate thinker Hannah Arendt seems to have judged self-consciously by pleading for the setting of the example of Eichmann.

The question of when an agent is free to what extent and, as a result, when and to what extent is responsible, should be examined in this work on the basis of this contradiction in Hannah Arendt's philosophy and her own actions with regard to the problem of justice. This justice of justice is examined by questioning the freedom and accountability behind a judicial decision. For this purpose, the train of thought, the paradox of justice, is explained first, then philosophical standpoints on the subject of freedom and responsibility from antiquity to Sartre are given. Finally, in an analysis of the phenomenon of punishment, the results are applied to Hannah Arendt's questionable closing argument.

1. Crime - Justice - Crime - ...

These lines of thought raise some questions of definition that should be clarified at the beginning of this work, also in order to introduce the topic to be treated, the question of the connection between freedom and responsibility in Hannah Arendt's philosophy. First of all, what is a crime anyway?

According to §12 I StGB, crimes are "unlawful acts that are at least threatened with imprisonment of one year or more".[14] Other lexicons refer to this in their definition. The term "crime" is therefore always linked to a valid legal system and differs from state to state - so there can be no crime without valid law. It is different with the concept of guilt, which is associated with the crime, However, a definition is not only found on the legal level. In the following, encyclopedic articles are used for the definition for reasons of the defined general validity. Hildegard Hogen writes in the "Brockhaus Philosophy", Schuld meine

“In ethics, the responsibility that a person has for the violation of a moral or moral law or commandment. In the legal sense, guilt results from the factual violation of an applicable law. Being guilty presupposes human freedom, i.e. the possibility of distinguishing and choosing between alternatives. "[15]

This definition again contains two terms that must be clarified in order to be understood: responsibility and freedom.

"Responsibility [is] an obligation, which one has entered into or is assigned by others, to conscientiously weigh up the consequences of one's own decisions or of the actions based on them. A person is only considered responsible insofar as he is free in his actions, i.e. several possibilities of action of different moral quality are open to him. [...] The conscience is seen as the decisive authority here. "[16]

What counts as an object of responsibility is "fundamentally dependent on the context and situation", but is always based on normative judgments about good and bad.[17] In her remarks on judgment in her lecture "On Evil", Hannah Arendt refers to Kant and calls the essence of free will its power of judgment.[18] But what is freedom? According to Hogen (“Brockhaus Philosophy”), freedom consists “on the one hand in the possibility of people to choose between different options, and on the other hand in their ability to base their own actions on self-chosen and constant principles or maxims . "[19] Since Isaiah Berlin's essay "Two Concepts of Liberty", a distinction has been made between two forms of freedom, freedom of action and free will. We are interested in "freedom to", that is, free will. This is the "ability of people to set values ​​and goals out of freedom and to pursue them in action, regardless of external or internal determination."[20]

If a person now acts in full consciousness, i.e. freely, independently of any external determination and powerful judgment of his deed, he as it were takes responsibility for it. If he does not act freely in this sense, it limits his responsibility for the act. Hannah Arendt does not argue otherwise in her work "Eichmann in Jerusalem". "We are only concerned with your [Eichmann] real actions," she writes in the fictitious plea at the end of the work,

“And neither the possibly non-criminal nature of your inner life and your motives, nor the possibly criminal tendencies of those around you. [... The fact remains that you helped to carry out the policy of mass murder and therefore actively supported this policy. "[21]

So this is not about the personal responsibility of Adolf Eichmann for his deeds, based on his free will - because Arendt assumes with these words as refuted or unimportant (otherwise she would not have to argue like that) - but about their pure committing, independently of any responsibility. With this, Arendt contradicts her own statements in the "Vita activa", which she published only four years earlier: There she writes that "someone", that is, persons acting on their own initiative, are responsible for their actions.[22] According to her definition, as she describes Eichmann, he was not a "someone" in her sense, but a desk clerk, a "buffoon", a "nobody".[23] But then in the plea cited above she completely denies the necessity of guilt (which is based on responsibility to be assumed) for the execution of a judgment, or rather squeezes this into Eichmann's decision, a "cog"[24] - a nobody - to be in his decision for the "lesser evil" instead of the decision not to make a decision and to withdraw from social life.[25] So is it about punishment for the will to punish, the punishment of cowardice (or what one might call the decision to be nobody)? What else is fair about that? Here is another definition from the "Concise Dictionary of Philosophy":

“The sub-meaning [of the term just] relevant to ethics is: correct, in accordance with mandatory moral standards for the intersubjective handling of a conflict of interest. "[26]

Here, too, it is about "moral [...] standards", the areas and principles of justice discussed in the following also refer predominantly to the issue of the distribution of goods. The point "corrective justice" then thematizes the area in the third and fourth sub-points , which applies here: The "restitutive, reparative justice" and the "retributive, retributive justice":

“The theme of reparative justice is harm that is humanly responsible. A partial principle of the reparative G. is the polluter pays principle that the person who caused the damage has to pay for the damage. [...] (4) Retributive, retaliatory G. and punitive G .: The theme of retaliatory G. is individually caused 'imbalances' of the social order [...] A rather crude and in many cases not at all realizable principle of retaliatory G. is the reciprocity that the one who has done harm to others for the first time or who has provided benefits for the first time should get something in return (to some extent) (if possible from the recipient). "[27]

At this point, it makes sense to draw parallels with the Eichmann trial. Even if the intention behind his kidnapping, interrogation, conviction and the execution of the sentence would never have been appropriately formulated (and probably also not planned as retaliatory), the entire chronology of the actions in and around the trial shows an almost grotesque resemblance the "reciprocity" described above: A court that represents the people who have been injured by torture and murder in its "capital" illegally kidnaps one of its main culprits, condemns him to death by hanging and hastily executes the sentence. The "pathetic declarations"[28] of the prosecution, writes Arendt, the blood of the victims screams, but “their voices have fallen silent. That is why I will be her mouth: in her name I will make the terrible charge "[29]I agree with all those who believed the Jerusalem trial to be unjust.[30] However, this process is not about the plaintiff, but about the law itself, because it is the political body "to which something needs to be made amends, and it is general public order that is out of order and needs to be restored."[31] However, that this "general public order" will be restored through the organized death of a criminal is another question. That that criminal will be brought before a court, as a defendant and as a witness, that what has happened is being dealt with and tried to be understood in order to Preventing it from happening in the future is a clear sign that this "general public order" represents the values ​​and morals which, against the background of the London Charter, etc., could be regarded as "good" in the sense of Hannah Arendt, at this point in time For Hannah Arendt, Eichmann is still a disruptive factor in this order through his past and the attitude that was attributed to him during the trial. Understandable: Because how should a “general public order” be a “general public order "when there are people in this public who do not share the ideal of this order? The ei The easiest way to get there, logically, is to say: We kill this person. Or: We lock him up. Acting on principle at this point reveals an extreme helplessness of the system, of "general public order", the principle of which - and here we should again refer to the previous quote - is equality as the epitome of justice.

Equivalent or equal because - to use Aristotle:

“[...] the same is a mean, [so] the just must be a mean. [...] The just is therefore something proportional - the proportional is not only peculiar to the number [...], namely, proportion is the equality of relationships. "[32]

Justice as a human virtue, to go further with the definition from the "Dictionary of Philosophy", is understood as "the basic moral attitude that treats everyone equally in coexistence with others."[33] And equality in the political, legal and social philosophy mean

“A fundamental problem of the position of the individual in the political and social fabric. The demand for equality is based on the general Human nature ', namely that all are subject to the same moral obligations, but are equally endowed with original rights [...]. "[34]

Further still: "Justice is a standard to which the law is also subject and by which it must be measured."[35]

The question arises: How responsible is a court for the enforcement of a judgment and how guilty is it through the organized hanging of a defined criminal? Hence: how fair is that? How can the instance, which is subject to a law based on justice, ensure "justice" in this way by breaking this valid law through punishment? - In this specific case, Adolf Eichmann does not treat an Adolf Eichmann equally, but rather one of his " original rights [...] ", namely the most basic of all: the right to exist? For Hannah Arendt, the justification for this judgment is provided by the fact that Eichmann himself gives other people, even entire peoples, this right with his support[36] the regime had agreed, and was still doing so at the time of his interrogation. This raises the question of the boundary between right and wrong - and thus the power of judgment defined by Hannah Arendt as a fundamental prerequisite for free action: the connection between judgments and (legal) condemnations.

2. The connection between free will and responsibility in philosophy up to Hannah Arendt

The entire moral and, in the end, political system-building, which is oriented towards the (this-world) (common) good, from antiquity to today, with the aim of establishing justice among people, is ultimately based on a striving: that of creation and preservation of the "good". It is assumed that there is therefore a "good" outside of human nature, and that man is likely to be able to achieve this "good." For Hannah Arendt there are laws in it that "Act"[37] To curb inherent excesses: Therefore "moderation has always been one of the classic political virtues."[38] But laws want a lot more: namely, to encourage people on this path to "good" and fair dealings with one another, with the current goal of safeguarding the basic rights of every individual.The fact that man is able to achieve and keep what is “good” is based on the assumption of his free will: for without this man can at best be condemned or destined for “good” and the character of “good” persists In the end, probably in its obsession - moreover, striving for it would then be pointless. With regard to "education for the good" (Plato), the way there to achieve this "good", history knows two ways, one of which systems have been practicing since time immemorial Ever to try the other, a few outliers gradually dare to try out: the upbringing with punishment and the upbringing with love. The basic question of these two forms of education is the correct handling of responsibility - especially with regard to actions that affect a certain person The wise path to the "good" seems to disturb. When - and whether - responsibility in connection with free or non-free will can take effect is listed in the following subsections with the explanation of the presentation of various philosophical explanations.

2.1 Epictetus and the divine Logos

In Epictetus, the will is one of the elements that man can freely dispose of. The Stoic divides all things into two groups: things that are in our power and those that are not in our power. Anyone who wants things that are not in his power is "a fool"[39], writes the Stoic in his "Handbook of Morals". Said things are

“Our body, our belongings, our reputation, our external position - everything that does not come from ourselves.

What is in our power is naturally free; it cannot be hindered or inhibited. "[40]

The latter is "our thinking, our doing, our desire, our avoidance"[41]that each individual is “a person [...] who has nothing higher than his free will; Everything else is subordinate to him, but he himself is not anyone's slave or servant. "41[42] To distinguish between the things that are in our power and those over which we have no control, according to the Epictetus, we need reason ("logos") inherent in every human being, the ability that unites human beings with God Let the rule of law, the "nomos" ("natural law", as it is described in the Stoa), be an immanent justice through the rule of the divine Logos, a "ultimate, absolute norm", as Gretenkord put it in his book "The Concept of Freedom." Epictets "describes, to which man is obliged.[43] "Moral action" within this "community of rational beings" described by the Stoa[44], the "cosmopolis", is acting in the sense of reason, the "nomos" - and thus acting that enables and secures the coexistence of people with one another.[45] The responsibility in this regard consists in maintaining your own logo, making it upright, healthy and strengthened,[46] every soul sins always ignorantly and therefore "because it does not know its true advantage and seeks it in wrong ways".[47] The punishment is included here by a loss inherent in "evil": "Nobody is evil without suffering loss or punishment in the process."[48] Punishment by others becomes superfluous, which Epictetus illustrates with an example in his "Conversations":

“The people delivered the wrongdoer to him [the injured party] for arbitrary punishment. Lycurgus, however, did him no harm; rather, he raised him and made him a good man. Then he brought him before the people, and when they wondered about it, he said: 'You have handed this man over to me as a wrongdoer and evildoer; I give him back to you as a good citizen. '"[49]

2.2 Immanuel Kant and the "Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals"

“Natural necessity was a heteronomy of the active causes; for every effect was only possible according to the law that something else determined the active cause to causality; what else can freedom of will be but autonomy, i.e. the quality of the will to be a law to oneself? "[50]

According to this proposition, freedom for Kant means freedom from causalities: Even if everything were subject to causalities, this chain of causalities would also have an origin that, due to its nature, cannot be subject to any causality. This very first act can only have arisen from a will, the only law of which is itself, and the will itself would thus be the epitome of freedom. The proposition that the will is a law to itself in all actions only describes the principle "not to act according to any other maxim than [that] which can also have itself as a general law as its object"[51] - that is, according to the categorical imperative. Consequently, a free will and a will are "the same" under moral laws.[52] One can, however, go a step further and, on this basis, draw the conclusion that moral action is only possible freely. Or, to put it in Kant's words: "If freedom of will is presupposed, then morality and its principle follow from it"[53], or: The "moral law [... is] namely the principle of the autonomy of the will itself."[54] This "analyticity thesis"[55] basically means nothing other than the point repeatedly repeated by Kant that the moral law is "not an imperative for purely rational beings [...] because such beings always act morally", as Schröder and Wood put it in their introduction to "Metaphysics of morals "- only the factor of freedom is added. What Kant wants to show with this thesis is that "if there is a free will, [it is] a will under moral law".[56] In the context of this "analytic thesis", however, this will can only be understood as the will of "a purely rational being" - that is, of a being for whom the moral law is "objectively and subjectively necessary"[57], which is therefore not subject to any "subjective restrictions and obstacles"[58] - be understood.[59] For all other beings, namely not "purely rational" beings, the moral law is a duty, namely, they act unfree because their will is not determined by their pure reason - after all, only those who are reasonable, i.e. free from all subjective, act well. According to Kant, anyone can achieve this state. "Practically good is [...]", writes Kant, "which is by means of the representations of reason, therefore not from subjective causes, but objectively, ie determines the will for reasons which are valid for every rational being as such. "[60]

Finally, Kant understands morality as a consequence[61] the freedom of will: a being who feels obliged to consider himself as belonging to the world of the senses and at the same time to the world of the mind.[62] Duty or feeling obligated (to the "good") is therefore a step on the way to freedom for not (yet) "purely rational" beings, duty is the gate.

2.3 Friedrich Nietzsche and the "strange thing" punishment

The connection between will and power is the starting point of Nietzsche's will theory, namely the assumption that every willing is also a command: whoever wants something, commands a "subservient will"[63] in oneself to obey. In his work "Beyond Good and Evil" he describes this connection as follows:

“A person who wants [...] commands something within himself that obeys or that he believes obeys. Now, however, consider what the strangest thing about will is [...] in such a way that the willing believes with good faith that willing is enough for action. "[64]

The willing believes that will and action are the same because with the act of willing, he expects obedience, that is, action, consequently “the appearance has been translated into the feeling [...] that there [is] a need for Effect [, ..] "[65] For Nietzsche, the effect consists in a success, the carrying out of what is willed - and that gives those who want to a feeling of power - "which brings all success with it"[66] -, a "state of pleasure". The willing, that is, the commanding and executing person in a person, feels just this pleasure in the pleasure of overcoming resistance, and judges from it that it should be

“Will itself is [...] that actually overcomes the resistance. In this way, the willing person adds the feelings of pleasure of the executing, successful tools [...] to his feeling of pleasure as the commanding person. L'effet c'est moi ".[67]

So the will is an affect[68] - and is therefore not free in Nietzsche's understanding. Elsewhere Nietzsche describes the will as a defined purpose, and the purpose as something “for the sake of which has been done, acted, lived”, but doubts its essence as a cause: “Why couldn't 'a purpose' be an accompanying phenomenon [.. .] of active forces [to be] which cause the appropriate action [, ..]? "[69] With this, the will itself has now been criticized: It “could be an illusion” that all consciousness and end appearances are unconditional: “Are [they] not [...] the last links in a chain, but apparently within their one behind the other Is it dependent on a surface of consciousness? "[70] What about responsibility now?

Free will, Nietzsche goes even further in his "Twilight of the Idols", was invented with the aim of making people responsible in the theological sense, "for the purpose of punishment"[71]that he is "the most disreputable theologian feat there is."[72] That people can become guilty requires freedom: "In order to be judged, in order to be able to be punished [...,] every act had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every act lying in consciousness [...]."[73] Wherever responsibilities are sought, the human "instinct to punish and judge" is looking for[74] - and that is wrong in its principle:

“Nobody is responsible for the fact that he is there at all, that he is such and such, that he is under these circumstances, in this environment. The fatality of his being cannot be separated from the fatality of everything that was and what will be. [...] One is necessary, one is a piece of fate, one belongs to the whole, one is in the whole - there is nothing that can judge, measure, compare, condemn our being, then that would mean judging the whole, measuring, compare, judge ... But there is nothing but the whole! "[75]

Nietzsche formulates the punishment as such in his work “Dawn. Thoughts on moral prejudice "the following sentence:

“A strange thing, our punishment! It does not purify the criminal, it is not atonement: on the contrary, it pollutes more than the crime itself. "[76]

2.4 Jean-Paul Sartre and "absolute responsibility"

"[Man], condemned to be free, [carries] the weight of the entire world on his shoulders [...]: he is responsible for the world and for himself as a way of being", wrote JeanPaul Sartre in 1943 in his Work "Being and Nothing". "We take the word responsibility 'in its banal sense of' being aware of (of) being the indisputable originator of an event or an object '."[77] The "for-itself" - in Sartre going beyond the usual philosophical meaning of the term, human consciousness, human "reality", characterizing man - is what makes it possible for a world to exist in the first place "[78]. In addition to the "for-itself", Sartre naturally also has the "in-itself", the abstract, pure being, for which "his being is about this being itself"[79]. This "in-itself" becomes concrete through the "for-itself" - which Sartre explains with the condition that "a knowing consciousness [already] is knowledge of its object [i.e. of itself]", a "consciousness of consciousness"[80]. He explains this sentence using the example of recognizing an object, here a table:

“If my consciousness weren't conscious of being conscious of being off the table, then it would be consciousness of this table without being conscious of that it is or, if you will, a consciousness that would not know anything about itself unconscious consciousness - which is absurd. [...] I just need to be conscious that I am conscious of this table, and I am actually conscious of it. That is not enough to claim that this table exists in itself - but it does exist for me. "[81]

The "for-itself", one goes on with the thought and regards it as an object, is therefore also that which turns one's own "in-itself" into a "for-itself", that is, "makes oneself" "[82]. So nothing "foreign" decides "what we feel, what we live or what we are" - and what we decide: this "absolute responsibility" is the acceptance of the "consequences of our freedom."[83] Sartre continues on his path: "Everything that happens to me is mine" - and therefore human. War, torture and crime also do not create "inhuman circumstances", just as there are no "incidents". Even a war involving a person has entered, be his war because he "could always evade it by suicide or desertion" - and by not choosing these options, this person freely chose the war.[84]

Sartre refutes the argument against "absolute responsibility" that no person is responsible for his responsibility, for his being born, with the thesis of accepting the birth:

“I am ashamed to be born, or I wonder about it, or I am happy about it, or I claim, by trying to take my life, that I experience and accept this life as bad. So, in a sense, I choose to be born. [...] These attitudes towards my birth, that is to say towards the fact that I am realizing a presence in the world, are just different ways of accepting this birth with full responsibility and making it mine. "[85]

Everyone is not "thrown into the world" in the sense of remaining passive, "like the plank that drifts on the water", but in the sense that they "suddenly find themselves alone and without help." To be passive to do, means "still choose me".[86] Thus the "responsibility of the for-itself extends to the entire world as a populated world."[87]

3. The punishment of Eichmann: How Hannah Arendt becomes inconsistent

If you take these four different points of view, to which Hannah Arendt refers in her remarks, together, one thing stands out: responsibility and freedom are inseparable in each of these theories. For Nietzsche, for whom freedom does not exist, there is also no moral responsibility, let alone morality, for Kant every person is responsible for the functioning of society and the coexistence of people through the obligation to freedom through moral action, with Sartre everyone is Man responsible for each of his actions in every form, with Epictetus the responsibility for his own life and the life of others lies in the freedom of will. However, Sartre even goes so far as to say that everyone is already responsible in his nature, since he was born with the condemnation of responsibility, consequently one can no longer hold him responsible for it again - but the way, like everyone with the first Thinking about being born with this responsibility is an individual one. And here parallels to Hannah Arendt's argument can be found - albeit slightly modified.

In Eichmann's case, responsibility was established and he was punished. Hannah Arendt pleads for Eichmann to be hanged, as she probably also for a Bluebeard knight to be hanged, which she cites as a prime example of a criminal in "Über das Böse",[88] would plead: She denies Eichmann the right to exist because she believes that she can justifiably prove the same attitude to him. It punishes him for his decision to be a cog in the Nazi gear that represents this ideology, so punishes him in the figurative Sartrian sense for his decision to consider himself born into this system and not to pull himself out, i.e. the states in the system as to accept given and not to question, not to judge them. Are for Arendt the "arbitration" function of the judgment and the judging function of the will the same,[89] and is the "really and [...] manifestly" existing human freedom[90] The prerequisite for both abilities, for them, are Eichmann's guilt - and that of all other opportunists - and "the horror of evil and at the same time its banality" in not having made use of this freedom, in other words "in refusing the judgment at all"[91].

Can one then still regard the actions of the person who has become a cogwheel as free when they have not been found to be "correct" either by themselves (but by executing orders) or as a result of a judgment by the agent? Arendt answers this question in her essay "Personal responsibility in a dictatorship" with a no:

“The men who did wrong [were] familiar with the spirit and letters of the laws of the country in which they lived, and if they are held accountable today, they are required to have a sense of justice anchored in their core 'contradicts this legal system that is so familiar to them. "[92]

Consequently, one cannot expect a person to question a familiar legal system based on reason? What is more: Whether Eichmann even made the decision to be a cog wheel "freely" in Arendt's sense - that is, regardless of desires and reason -[93], is also a factor in her definition of freedom that needs to be taken into account, which she does not.

But what is she doing now by pleading for Eichmann's death? First of all, trying to punish someone with death is illogical in and of itself, since the dead person does not notice anything of his punishment anyway. What the punishment consists of are the moments between the verdict and the execution, in which the convict literally looks his approaching death in the eye. With this punishment, which is considered the most absolute and at the same time the most unpunishable in its essence, he is deprived of the opportunity to draw consequences for his actions himself and thus - as Epictetus describes it - to become a "righteous citizen" who no longer commits crimes, the highest The cognitive stage itself no longer needs Kant's duty to be "good", who recognizes his responsibility for himself and the world (if this exists) and in the Arendtian sense to develop his judgment - because after all, everyone has the ability for Arendt.[94] Arendt twisted Eichmann's responsibility during the Nazi era into a general, never-ending guilt of all those who submit to "categories and formulas"[95] - and is not free from it itself. The punishment she advocates is a crime she denounces: deciding the life and death of another (or several other) people. She speaks on behalf of all "members of the human race"[96] and thus calls the knowledge of a general law valid for all her own, the knowledge of the right to inhabit the earth.[97] The categories and formulas to which Arendt is subjected are the contradicting justifications of punishment. If she calls the object of freedom impartial judgment, which expresses the ability to distinguish between good and evil, then, freely judged, punishment would have to be recognized as the opposite of good, as the retribution of a crime with a crime, as the right to injustice, as a system-immanent error which, in its organized and established nature, formulated with great care, equates to a situational revaluation of values ​​- such as justice and equality. In her essay "Personal Responsibility in the Dictatorship", Arendt justifies punishment with four "ordinary" arguments, that of protection from the criminal, the improvement of the criminal, the warning example and compensatory justice. Four arguments that are more exemplary for the "automatic [...] manner"[98], in which the conscience functions, caused by thinking in "categories and formulas" that make it difficult to form judgments,[99] could not be. Hannah Arendt argues in her work "Eichmann in Jerusalem" and the two essays, "On Evil" and "Personal Responsibility in the Dictatorship", which are supposed to explain the text afterwards, and above all does not remain true to herself and her philosophy.

Since "Eichmann in Jerusalem" appeared in excerpts in the "New Yorker" over several months, Arendt experienced violent reactions to the first sections even before writing the last chapter. It seems as if in the course of her discussions she is increasingly bringing any, sometimes harsh, criticism of the Jerusalem trial in a deliberately subtle and "between the lines" way, perhaps out of fear of correspondingly extreme reactions. Her final conclusion on the trial in which she advocated the execution of Eichmann in this context seems to have been written under a felt sense of duty. After all, in the edition used here, she accounted for more with the process than with Eichmann on around 400 pages, and she is with the circumstances, shortly after the end of the war and especially as a Jew, with Her way of writing about the process, ran the risk of a predominantly negative and hostile reaction from the outset, and tried to justify and explain her words in the essays in the years that followed In fact, if she wanted to preserve her reputation, she had no other re possibility. Only in the closing speech in "Eichmann in Jerusalem", which contradicts her previous argument, is the compulsion under which she wrote, clearly recognizable - as if she had the feeling that at least with regard to the judgment she had to agree to the court.

Arendt did not write freely about Eichmann's trial, not even years later, and sacrificed a bit of her loyalty and love for philosophy.


Primary literature

- Arendt, Hannah: "Personal responsibility in the dictatorship", in: Geisel, Eike / Bittermann, Klaus (ed.): "Hannah Arendt. Israel, Palestine and anti-Semitism. Essays". Verlag Klaus Wagenbach, Berlin 1991.
- Arendt, Hannah: "Vita Activa or From active life". Piper, Munich 2001.
- Arendt, Hannah: “About evil. A lecture on questions of ethics ". Piper, Munich 2012.
- Arendt, Hannah: “Eichmann in Jerusalem. A report on the banality of evil ". Piper, Munich 2013.
- Epiktet: "Handbüchlein der Moral und Unterredungen", edited by Schmidt, Heinrich. Kröner, Stuttgart 1954.
- Gast, Peter (ed.): “Friedrich Nietzsche. The will to power. Attempt to reevaluate all values ​​". Kröner, Leipzig 1959.
- Kant, Immanuel: Metaphysik der Sitten, in: Hansen, Frank-Peter (Hg,): "Philosophy from Platon to Nietzsche." Digital Library, Vol. 2, CD-ROM, for Windows 3.11 / 95 / NT, CD-ROM, Publisher: directmedia; 1 edition (1998)
- Nietzsche, Friedrich: “Dawn. Thoughts on moral prejudices ", edited by Baeumler, Alfred. Kröner, Stuttgart 1952.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich: "Beyond good and evil". Kröner, Stuttgart 1953.
- Nietzsche, Friedrich: "Götzendämmerung". Kröner, Stuttgart 1964.

Secondary literature

- Bonhöffer, Adolf: "Epiktet und das New Testament", Verlag Alfred Töpelmann, Giessen 1911.
- Gretenkord, Johannes Carl: "The Epictetus Concept of Freedom". Brockmeyer, Bochum 1981.
- König, Traugott: “Jean-Paul Sartre. The being and the nothing. An attempt at a phenomenological ontology. ", Rowohlt, Hamburg 1991.
- Schönecker, Dieter / Wood, Allen W .: "Kant, Foundation for the Metaphysics of Morals". An introductory comment ". Schöningh, Paderborn 2011.

Reference works - Halder, Alois: "Philosophical Dictionary". Herder Verlag, Freiburg im Breisgau 2000.
- Hogen, Hildegard (ed.): "Brockhaus Philosophy", F. A. Brockhaus, Mannheim 2009.
- Lumer, Christoph: "Justice", in Sandkühler, Hans Jörg (ed.): Encyclopedia Philosophy. Felix-Meiner-Verlag, Hamburg 1999.
- Rehfus, Wulff D. (ed.): "Handwortbuch Philosophie", Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2003.
- Sandkühler, Hans Jörg (ed.): "Encyclopedia Philosophy". Felix Meiner Verlag, Hamburg 1999.

Web sources

- http://dejure.org/gesetze/StGB/12.html, date: February 21, 2014, 7:08 pm.


[1] Arendt, 2013, p. 360.

[2] Ibid., P. 367.

[3] Cf. ibid., P. 368: On the one hand, Servatius wanted to threaten the court with invoking Article 25 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights; on the other hand, he made an application to a West German court to apply for extradition (and he would be in Germany had not been sentenced to death as the death penalty had already been abolished in 1962). According to Hannah Arendt, the latter would have been entirely possible.

[4] See Ibid., P. 388.

[5] See Jaspers, quoted by N. Arendt, ibid., P. 392.

[6] See Arendt, ibid., P. 398.

[7] See ibid., P. 386.

[8] Ibid., P. 385.

[9] Ibid., P. 386.

[10] See ibid., P. 362.

[11] See ibid., P. 393.

[12] Ibid., P. 402.

[13] Ibid., P. 404.

[14] http://deiure.org/gesetze/StGB/12.html, date: February 21, 2014, 7:08 pm.

[15] Brockhaus, 2009, p. 398.

[16] Brockhaus, 2009, p. 438.

[17] See ibid.

[18] Cf. Arendt, 2012, p. 137: Here she writes that free will is the "arbiter between right and wrong".

[19] See Brockhaus, 2009, p. 129.

[20] See Brockhaus, 2009, p. 456.

[21] See Arendt, 2013, p. 404.

[22] See Arendt, 2001, p. 215.

[23] See Arendt, 2013, p. 132.

[24] Cf. Arendt, 1991, p. 22: "And why, please, did you become a cog [...]?"

[25] Ibid., P. 26: “In their [people who were not politically neutral at the time of the rule of the Nazi regime] moral justification, the argument of the lesser evil primarily played a role. When faced with two evils, the argument goes, one is obliged to choose the lesser of the two, whereas it is irresponsible to flatly reject the election. "

[26] Lumer, 1999, p. 464.

[27] Lumer, 1999, p. 466f.

[28] See Arendt, 2013, p. 381.

[29] See ibid.

[30] See ibid.

[31] See Ibid., P. 382.

[32] Aristotle, quoted in Rehfus, 2003, p. 364.

[33] See Halder, 2000, p. 118.

[34] Ibid., P. 125.

[35] Lumer, 1999, p. 465.

[36] Cf. Arendt, 1991, p. 38: “Consequently, those who participated and obeyed orders should never be asked: 'Why did you obey?' rather: 'Why did you provide support?' "

[37] If the word act is placed in quotation marks in this work, it means the concept of action coined by Hannah Arendt in her work "Vita Activa or from active life". Without quotation marks, act means the colloquial meaning of the term.

[38] Arendt, 2001, p. 238.

[39] See Epiktet, in: Schmidt, 1954, p. 28.

[40] Ibid., P. 21.

[41] See ibid.

[42] See Epiktet, in: Schmidt, 1954, p. 68.

[43] See Gretenkord, 1981, p. 108.

[44] See Ibid., P. 107.

[45] Cf. Ibid .: "Every citizen has to fulfill duties towards the political community to which he belongs, which enable and guarantee an orderly coexistence of people."

[46] See Ibid .: p. 109.

[47] See Bonhöffer, 1911, p. 369.

[48] Epictetus, in: Schmidt, 1954, p. 71.

[49] Ibid., P. 54.

[50] Kant, in: Hansen, 1998, p. 107.

[51] See ibid.

[52] See ibid.

[53] ru.

[54] Ibid., P. 112.

[55] See Schönecker / Wood, 2002, p. 174.

[56] See ibid.

[57] See Ibid., P. 57.

[58] See Kant, in: Hansen, 1998, p. 20.

[59] See Schönecker / Wood, 2002, p. 175.

[60] Kant, in: Hansen, 1998, p. 48.

[61] Cf. Ibid., P. 119: "If we think of ourselves as free, we place ourselves as members in the intellectual world and recognize the autonomy of the will, including its consequence, morality."

[62] See ibid.

[63] See Nietzsche, 1953, No. 19, p. 26.

[64] Ibid.

[65] See ibid.

[66] See ibid.

[67] See Ibid., P. 27.

[68] See Ibid., P. 25.

[69] See Nietzsche, in: Gast, 1959, p. 446.

[70] See ibid.

[71] See Nietzsche, 1964, No. 7, p. 115.

[72] See Ibid., P. 114.

[73] See Ibid., P. 115.

[74] See ibid.

[75] Ibid. P. 116.

[76] Nietzsche, 1952, No. 236, p. 195.

[77] Sartre, in: König, 1991, p. 950.

[78] See ibid.

[79] See Ibid., P. 164.

[80] See Ibid., P. 20.

[81] ru j ibid.

[82] See Ibid., P. 950.

[83] See Ibid., P. 951.

[84] See ibid.

[85] Ibid., P. 954.

[86] See ibid.

[87] See Ibid., P. 955.

[88] See Arendt, 2012, p. 149.

[89] See Ibid., P. 129.

[90] See Ibid., P. 126.

[91] See Arendt, 2012, p. 150.

[92] See Arendt, 1991, p. 31

[93] See Arendt, 2012, p. 124.

[94] See footnote 91.

[95] See Arendt., 1991, p. 28.

[96] See Arendt, 2013, p. 404.

[97] See ibid.

[98] See Arendt, 1991, p. 34.

[99] See Ibid., P. 28.