The “Hannah-Arendt Prize for Political Thinking” was founded in 1994. The founders of the prize coming from the fields of politics, culture and science, were and still are interested in creating an adequate place in the public perception of the German-American thinker Hannah Arendt, who was exiled from Germany in 1933.
Already during the peaceful revolutions of the years 1989/1990, Arendt’s thinking had gained surprising topicality. Since then, the unpredictable dynamics of a multipolar world have raised many questions to which there are no answers. Arendt suggests a “thinking without railings” (Arendt), confronting again and again the question of how our world is to be understood, which in turn raises new questions:
More than almost any other figure in the long tradition of political thought, Hannah Arendt has publicly pondered on the question of how political space is generated, and how and by what means it is destroyed. In her search for the causes of totalitarian rule in the 20th century, she has revealed how modern societies destroy the political space, in which freedom is shaped, and how the way for totalitarian practices is paved. In doing so, she has repeatedly pointed to the ability of citizens to form political power directly, thus renewing the political space.
Above all, she has left us with questions of our own to answer:
What is the legacy that antiquity, the modern revolutions of freedom, as well as the world wars and totalitarian rule have left us? How must political liberalism renew itself, in order to wrest action in freedom from the economic constraints that seem to be driving the globe to self-destruction? Where does the irredeemable responsibility of citizens for their political community lie?
The prize honors public interventions that bring Arendtian questions to the present. We are looking for new ways of understanding and testing political events, that ultimately contribute to strengthening the political agency of citizens.
An international jury decides on the winner. The prize money of 10,000 € is donated by the Heinrich Böll-Foundation and the Senate of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.