Isabel Morales Gives Lecture on the Phenomenon of Totalitarianism

21/02/12
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On Friday, 16 February 2012, Professor of Humanities Isabel Morales gave a lecture titled "The Phenomenon of Totalitarianism" as part of a seminar organized by the Faculty of Humanities to encourage interest in culture among students in their final year of secondary school.

Isabel Morales Gives Lecture on the Phenomenon of Totalitarianism

About 30 students in the final year of
secondary school in Barcelona
attended the lecture given by Professor Isabel Morales on the phenomenon of
totalitarianism according to the theories put forward by philosopher Hannah
Arendt in her book The Origins of
Totalitarianism
.

The professor explained the concept of
totalitarianism, which, according to Arendt's theory, is "a separate,
alternative but very coherent world, with a
Führer at the centre and a system that
functions as a result of the will of an individual or individuals. Secrecy
prevails and dominates the masses through terror".

Morales also talked about Arendt's
theory that, before a prisoner’s death in a concentration camp, three aspects
of his person had already been destroyed: firstly, the juridical man, secondly
the moral person, and finally the unique identity of the individual. For that
reason, Morales declared, "Totalitarianism destroys the concepts of man and
mankind".

The speaker talked about another of
Hannah Arendt works, Eichmann in
Jerusalem
, which recounts the trial in Jerusalem of Karl Adolf Eichmann, a
lieutenant colonel in the
Schutzstaffel (SS). She spoke
about how, in this work, Arendt reformulated her theory of radical evil, which
she described as a superficial banality that spreads quickly and involuntarily.

Morales supported Arendt's theory that,
"being human, we have the opportunity to do evil, but for that same
reason, we also have the opportunity to do good".

Bringing the session to a close, the
humanist said, "Our means of fighting totalitarianism is to become more
and more human, but this is very difficult to achieve if we don’t have a human
ideal".

This is the fourth session in a series of
lectures organized by the Faculty of Humanities to awaken an interest in
philosophical wisdom among secondary-school students and those studying any
university degree, and to provide them with a chance for reflection and
dialogue.