Spring 2014: Phl 421 – Hannah Arendt


General information


Here is more information about Prof. Lotz

Class Meetings

Days: MW
Time: 12:40 PM – 2:00 PM
Place: 455 Baker Hall


Phone: 517.355.4490 [dept.])
Place: 518 S. Kedzie Hall
Hours: M (9am-9:30am); W (2:30-3pm) , and by appointment

Other Contact

E-mail: lotz@msu.edu
Home Phone: please ask
Webpage: https://christianlotz.wordpress.com


You will find my box in the front office of the philosophy department (and in front of my office)



Jan 6
Class cancelled (weather)

Jan 8, Introduction: Interview with Gauss

Jan 13, Introduction: Interview with Gauss

The Human Condition

Jan 15The Human Condition, chapter I.1-3

Jan 20
Martin Luther King Day

Jan 22, The Human Condition, chapter II.4.-7

Jan 27, The Human Condition, chapter II.8-10

Jan 29, The Human Condition, chapter III.11-14

Feb 3, The Human Condition, chapter III.15-17 (Nick)

Feb 5, The Human Condition, chapter IV.18-20 (Michael)

Feb 10, The Human Condition, chapter IV.21-23 (Alex)

The Political

Feb 12, The Human Condition, chapter V.24-29 (Matt)

Feb 17, The Human Condition, chapter V.30-34 (Ahmed)

Feb 19, The Promise of Politics, Introduction to Politics, 93-114 (Aaron)

Feb 24, The Promise of Politics, Introduction to Politics, 114-153 (Jay)

Feb 26, cancelled (sickness)
Thesis paper by email
The Promise of Politics, Introduction to Politics, 153-200 (Diana)
Reaction paper assignment

Mar 3
Spring Break

Mar 5
Spring Break

Mar 10, Between Past and Present, What is freedom?, 142-170 (Brockton)

Mar 12, Between Past and Present, What is freedom?, 142-170

Mar 17, TBA, taped sessions with Arendt

Violence and Power

Mar 19, On Violence, 1-43 (Dan)

Mar 24, class cancelled
Read on your own: On Violence, section 2 (Spencer)
Reaction paper assignment per email, due March 31

Eichmann and Evil

Mar 26,  Eichmann in Jerusalem, 3-68 (James)
check this out: https://www.youtube.com/user/EichmannTrialEN

Mar 31, Eichmann in Jerusalem, 68-151 (Rafael, Marcus)

Apr 2,
Guest Lecture by Prof. Rauscher

Apr 7, Eichmann in Jerusalem, 206-299 (Allison)

Apr 9, Film: Hannah Arendt

Apr 14, Film: Hannah Arendt
Reaction paper assignment

Apr 16, Responsibility and Judgment, Some Questions of Moral Philosophy, 49-97 (John)

Apr 21, Responsibility and Judgment, Some Questions of Moral Philosophy, 97-147

Apr 23
Wrap up
Final paper assignment

Apr 29 (day of final exam)
Final paper due by 2pm (by email)

Course Description

Hannah Arendt is one of the most important political philosophers of the 20th Century. Her ideas and thoughts often reached a wider public and triggered many discussions in disciplines beyond philosophy, including anthropology, political science, and history. We will read her book The Human Condition, her book on Eichmann, Eichmann in Jerusalem, as well as selected works on power, violence, revolution, and political philosophy. More information can be found here:  http://www.bard.edu/hannaharendtcenter/biography/.


This is a 400-level course in philosophy and, as such, contains difficult material and requires mature students. If you are not willing to study dense written material, listen to unusual lectures, and discuss ideas in an organized fashion, then you should not take this class. This class though can be taken by students without prior knowledge in philosophy. You should not take this class if you are not an avid reader.

Course Goals

This lecture class should students introduce to

  • political philosophy
  • the philosophy of Hannah Arendt
  • the connection between intellectual ideas and philosophical concepts
  • the Eichmann trial and Arendt’s interpretation of evil
  • Arendt’s concept of the human condition
  • Arendt’s concept of freedom
  • Arendt’s concept of power
  • Arendt’s concept of the political


Students should be aware of the fact that this course is based on difficult texts. Accordingly, this class requires self-responsible learners and an intense confrontation with the primary text. Accordingly, if you are not excited about the prospect of a daily confrontation with abstract and historical reflections, then you should not take this class. This class is not based on a set of fixed knowledge and, as such, is not based on a behavioral idea of education; rather, we will try to learn together and critically examine the material. The instructor of this class does not have anything to teach, but much to learn.

Required Texts (Bookstore)

  • Arendt, The Human Condition
  • Arendt, Between Past and Present
  • Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem
  • Arendt, On Violence
  • Arendt, On Revolution (this text is no longer needed; you do NOT need to purchase it from the bookstore)
  • Arendt, Responsibility and Judgment

If you do not want to (or are unable) to purchase these books, then please make copies of the texts/chapters that we will be discussing in class.

Course Requirements

  • Daily reading and studying (around 5-10 pages, up to 50 per week)
  • 3 shorter reaction papers
  • 1 thesis statement (short assignment, systematic summary of the readings)
  • 1 final paper
  • participation


The class and my lectures are solely based on the texts selected for class and require a thorough study and preparation of the material. I will primarily lecture on the readings, which will help you to more fully understand the texts. Therefore it is not sufficient for students to come to class without having prepared the texts. And indeed, in the exams you have to demonstrate whether you have appropriately prepared the readings selected for each lecture.


Every academic misconduct, such as plagiarism, will – without exception – lead to a failing grade in class. Check the Ombudsman’s page (see also note below on plagiarism):  https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/


Make-Up Assignments

Students who need to miss assignments for excusable reasons, such as MSU related business, emergency weather conditions, medical emergencies, or death in their families, must inform me ahead of time, and will be permitted to make up the exam and movie assignment. I will only accept official doctor notes (no faxes, no emails) or letters from other professors. Unfortunately I am unable to accept any other reasons than those stated above.


To get a good grade in this class, regular attendance is required. I will not call roll. Hence, it is up to you to come to class or not. However, if you do not come to class on a regular basis and participate in the class discussion, it is impossible for you to achieve a good grade in this class; so coming to class is your responsibility and your call. If you choose to attend class, please come on time, turn off cell phones and other electronic devices that interfere with your (and others’) concentration, have the reading prepared and be ready to participate. If you are not prepared, do not bother showing up. It is a sign of disrespect to your peers and the instructor to attend class unprepared. If you miss class, it is your responsibility to obtain class notes from a fellow student and to catch up on reading. Nevertheless, please be aware that you should not make me responsible for a failure that results out of your decision. You should be aware that chances to master this class are minimal, if you do not show up for class or if you do not prepare the readings (=studying).

Thesis Statement (brief overview of assigned reading)

Each student has to prepare one thesis paper for class. The thesis paper should contain [a] a list of main points and claims, [b] concepts that are unclear, [c] intelligent questions about the readings. Students who prepare the thesis paper need to send their thesis papers by 8am per email on the due date to me, bring copies for everyone to class and be prepared to briefly present their paper (this will not always happen). The thesis paper is limited to two pages and you must use the following prepared document:

Download thesis paper form

Reaction Paper

Each student has to write three 3-page (no more than 900 words) reaction papers in reaction to one of the readings or YouTube material (depends upon the assignment). The reaction paper should contain a systematic thesis about a selected aspect of the material. Assignments will be passed out in class. Note: you should work with the following online resources (or other resources in the library): Oxford Dictionary of PhilosophyRoutledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy Stanford Encyclopedia of PhilosophyEncyclopedia of Continental Philosophy (e-book) – The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

Final Paper

In order to intensify and improve your understanding of the material, you will turn in one final research and academic style paper, in which you analyze a specific topic (6 pages, double spaced, no more than 1800 words). Assignments will be passed out in class (check schedule).

Unnanounced Assignments

There will be – from time to time – unannounced reading quizzes, homework-assignments, and group assignments. Students who do not attend class (and have no written documentation) will lose all points. Reading quizzes and group assignments cannot be made up.

Class Response Sheets

Every student is asked to submit up to 5 class response sheets during the semester. Please download the form here (plus: print it out five times and add it to your class folder). Response sheets must be submitted at the end of a class session. I do not accept late turn ins or turn ins by email.

Download response sheet (I will only accept answers that are given on this form)


Students are not allowed to turn in response sheets during the last week of class!

Course Evaluation


1 final paper (up to 1800 words) 20 points
3 reaction papers (up to 900 words) 30 points
unannounced reading quizzes and group assignments 15 points
1 thesis statement (use form) 10 points
participation 10 points
response sheets (use form) 15 points
100 points


4.0 (=A) 100 – 93
3.5 92 – 87
3 (=B) 86 – 82
2.5 81 – 77
2 (=C) 76 – 72
1.5 71 – 65
1.0 (=D) 64 – 60
0.0 < 60

GENERIC SYLLABUS (might not be applicable to each class)

Laptop/Cell Phone Policy

You are not permitted to use laptops and cell phones in class. Please do not text under the table. Cell phones should be removed from tables. Failure to follow this policy will lead to unannounced assignments in class or loss of points (at the digression of the instructor).

Class Attendance

As mentioned above, I do not employ in my classes a class attendance policy. Having said this, you should be aware that class attendance is very important. When engaging in a philosophical and humanistic dialogue it is necessary to be an active and present participant in the ongoing discussion. If you miss class please do not email me asking if you missed anything important. Every class is important. You should get a study buddy for the class; a student in class who will inform you of what you missed. If you miss a class you can come to my office hours or make an appointment to discuss the material, providing you have read the material and you simply want to see if your understanding of the material is on target. Time in office hours will not be used to repeat the class lectures.

Grading Criteria + Paper Writing Tips

Check out this page for grading criteria, example of assignments, etc.

Online Research Sources

Unfortunately, some people think that the internet as such is a reliable source of information. If you decide to use online sources for additional information or your paper then do not just use one of the common internet search engines, such as Google; rather, use reliable academic sources, such as Britannica Online, or the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. The Internet Ecyclopedia of Philosophy isn’t very good, but still acceptable. Check out MSU’s library resources! And, as with other sources, you must cite any online sources to which you refer in your essay.

Writing Center Information

MSU’s writing center offers excellent help on all matters regarding writing and learning. Check the website at http://writing.msu.edu for an overview and hours. For more information, please call 517.432.3610 or send an e-mail to writing@msu.edu.

Integrity of Scholarship and Grades (Plagiarism)

The following statement of University policy addresses principles and procedures to be used in instances of academic dishonesty, violations of professional standards, and falsification of academic or admission records, herein after referred to as academic misconduct. [See General Student Regulation 1.00, Protection of Scholarship and Grades.]

Academic Honesty

Article 2.3.3 of the Academic Freedom Report states that “The student shares with the faculty the responsibility for maintaining the integrity of scholarship, grades, and professional standards.” In addition, the (insert name of unit offering course) adheres to the policies on academic honesty as specified in General Student Regulations 1.0, Protection of Scholarship and Grades; the all-University Policy on Integrity of Scholarship and Grades; and Ordinance 17.00, Examinations. (See Spartan Life: Student Handbook and Resource Guide and/or the MSU Web site: www.msu.edu) Therefore, unless authorized by your instructor, you are expected to complete all course assignments, including homework, lab work, quizzes, tests and exams, without assistance from any source. You are expected to develop original work for this course; therefore, you may not submit course work completed for another course to satisfy the requirements for this course. Students who violate MSU rules may receive a penalty grade, including but not limited to a failing grade on the assignment or in the course. Contact your instructor if you are unsure about the appropriateness of your course work. (See also https://www.msu.edu/~ombud/)

Plagiarism, from the Ombudsman’s page

Plagiarism (from the Latin plagiarius, an abductor, and plagiare, to steal) is defined by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy on Misconduct in Research (take that!) as “ . . . the appropriation of another person’s ideas, processes, results or words without giving appropriate credit.”

Accidental or Unintentional
One may not even know that they are plagiarizing.  It is the student’s responsibility to make certain that they understand the difference between quoting and paraphrasing, as well as the proper way to cite material.

Here, students are well aware that they are plagiarizing.  Purposefully using someone else’s ideas or work without proper acknowledgment is plagiarism.  This includes turning in borrowed or bought research papers as one’s own.

Turning in the same term paper (or substantially the same paper) for two courses without getting permission from one’s instructor is plagiarism.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities should contact the Resource Center for Persons with Disabilities to establish reasonable accommodations. For an appointment with a counselor, call 353-9642 (voice) or 355-1293 (TTY)

Drops and Adds

The last day to add this course is the end of the first week of classes. The last day to drop this course with a 100 percent refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). The last day to drop this course with no refund and no grade reported is (see Academic Calendar). You should immediately make a copy of your amended schedule to verify you have added or dropped this course.

Note on Attendance

Students who fail to attend the first four class sessions or class by the fifth day of the semester, whichever occurs first, may be dropped from the course.

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