The Crisis of Community and the Chances for Recovery. What Arendt and Camus Can Teach Us

Publication type Article
Status Published
Affiliation: Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities named after Fyodor Dostoevsky
Address: 15А, Fontanka River Embankment, St. Petersburg, 191011, Russian Federation
Affiliation: Russian Christian Academy for the Humanities named after Fyodor Dostoevsky
Address: 15А, Fontanka River Embankment, St. Petersburg, 191011, Russian Federation
Journal nameChelovek
EditionVolume 34 Issue 6

The focus of the article is the question of the possibilities of social interaction at critical moments in history, when interpersonal ties are extremely weakened and people are compelled to withdraw into themselves. Concern for one’s personal security becomes more prominent in human existence when there is a severe lack of freedom. The realm of intersubjective relationships derived from life’s natural environment becomes a zone of ongoing risk. Philosophical reflection frequently turned to this subject and proposed different possibilities after World War II, which made the issue of the breakdown of the public sphere as sharp as possible. Among the first thinkers to focus on the interdependence of the two facets of human life — the existential and the collective — were Hannah Arendt and Albert Camus. “The Banality of Evil”, which Arendt wrote after reporting the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann, and Camus’s “The Plague” are two important twentieth-century writings that are used in the article to show the connections between these topics. “The Plague”, conceived as a kind of monument to the heroes of the French Resistance, marks the transition in Camus’s philosophy from absurdity to rebellion, connecting disparate individuals. In the process of collective struggle against the epidemic, the heroes of the novel establish the so-called space “between”. It is reminiscent of Arendt’s interpretation of the world as a common place of interaction and dialogue that connects all participants and, at the same time, preserves their autonomy. In this context, the Eichmann case is a crime aimed at destroying the plurality that is necessary for the existence of mankind.

Keywordsindividual and society, Hannah Arendt, “The Banality of Evil”, Albert Camus, “The Plague”, ethics, philosophy and literature
Publication date27.12.2023
Number of characters32521
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