Justice and Judgment (Fall 2013)
Fifty years ago, Hannah Arendt wrote Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil while she was a Fellow at Wesleyan’s Center for Advanced Studies. On September 26, 27, 28 of 2013 we will hold a conference to mark this event. The CFH theme “Justice and Judgment” is designed to work with and move beyond the issues raised at this conference as we invite reconsiderations of how we can think of judgment as providing a mediation between seemingly unrelated spheres of knowledge and experience. For her part, Arendt situates the banality of Eichmann’s evil deeds not in his evil intentions but in his “lack of imagination:” “That such remoteness from reality and such thoughtlessness can wreak more havoc than all the evil instincts taken together which, perhaps, are inherent in man—that was, in fact, the lesson one could learn in Jerusalem.” (p. 288) Do contemporary societies and cultures suffer from a crisis of judgment? If so, how can it be addressed? For instance, can an engagement with works of art help us address the crisis of judgment? Can this achieve justice? And if judgment is the means by which we enact justice, what theories and practices of justice remain relevant in the contemporary situation? If not, what might be the alternatives? What are the values, uses, and formations of judgment in social and legal theory, in moral philosophy, and in aesthetics and the arts? Finally, what role does, can, or should the power of the imagination—“to Kant the most mysterious faculty,” as Arendt remarks—play today in mediating between the spheres of knowledge and experience?