I’ve really enjoyed this podcast series hosted by Samantha Rose Hill. Often a philosopher’s material is difficult to get one’s head around, especially on first readings. A podcast can provide overviews that enlighten you enough to know whether you want to further invest in its understanding. Hill is well-versed in the material. She speaks clearly, and consistently, and references back to where you can look further in the author’s work,
But it is the structure of the episodes that adds so much to the material. Hill brings in a variety of specialists from different disciplines to talk through how Arendt plays in their corner of the world. This makes the material so much more valuable. By coming at the topics from all angles, by shining lights in various crevices of thought, fine differences enhance the understanding of sometimes difficult conceptual applications.
I came across this documentary when I searched for Vita Activa. My aim was to find more discourse on Arendt’s philosophical concept of action. The title of this documentary is woefully misleading as throughout the whole two-hour show not once is this phrase mentioned. That’s not to say that I didn’t enjoy the film. I did. Arendt is someone I’ll keep after.
Quotes from her writings are laced throughout the movie but seem a little like window dressing for the story of the twentieth-century Jewish experience. That alongside her romantic experiences takes precedence over a comprehensive overview of her thought and how the mechanics of it fit together. This was where I was hoping to learn about Vita Activa. Now I will be forced to read The Human Condition when I thought I could watch a film instead!
One reviewer of her capstone work made my day on Good Reads. Here are comments from Andrew:
Also, she seems to intuit that her ideas are complex and not immediately penetrable; some of the concepts in the first chapters that leave you scratching your head she knowingly addresses in more detail later on, without calling too much attention to the repetition and further elaboration. It’s as if she knew you wouldn’t have any idea what she was talking about the first time and wanted to inconspicuously help you, avoiding any embarrassment on your part.