Arendt and the Banality of Evil
task is to carefully consider Arendt’s position and then think about how you would defend Staub against it. Pay close attention to Staub’s core concepts in chapter 2, his analysis of perpetrators’ psychology in chapter 5, the continuum of destruction in chapter 6, and the main ideas in chapters 7 through 11 in which Staub applies the model he sketches in the first six chapters to the Nazi Holocaust. You should not simply set out Staub’s positions and claim that they defeat Arendt. Rather, you must specifically show how Staub’s arguments counter Arendt and why they are more powerful explanations of National Socialist evil. In other words, this assignment does not ask you to merely summarize Staub and declare victory. You must take each major claim that Staub makes (e.g., difficult life conditions and the role of culture) and show exactly how you would deploy it against Arendt. You certainly are not expected to consider each of Staub’s arguments in light of Arendt. Just choose the major ideas — the ones you have decided, based on your careful reading, are most central — and put them up beside Arendt’s argument and discuss why Staub’s may be stronger and more penetrating.
How long should this be? As long as it takes to do the assignment. You be the judge. Remember that your paper will be assessed on thoroughness, precision of thought, critical-thinking skills, analytical ability, and on the quality of your writing. Hold yourself to the highest standards of Standard English, including grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Read your work aloud to catch awkward sentence structures. Push your writing through at least two drafts. You will have the chance to revise this essay and re-submit before the end of the semester.