may have been a great thinker. However, this is almost entirely nullified
, after her death, by the fact that she could not
write. The Human Condition
had all the appearances of containing nuggets of thought worth extracting and analyzing, but the book itself is so poorly written that one has to wonder if much of this appearance is due to the effort it takes to simply decode the prose.
I present the following sentence, in which Arendt is discussing the 'Cartesian Doubt.'
"This doubt doubts that such a thing as truth exists at all, and discovers thereby that the traditional concept of truth, whether based on sense perception or on reason or on belief in divine revelation, had rested on the twofold assumption that what truly is will appear of its own accord and that human capabilities are adequate to receive it."
The Human Condition, p. 276: 1958 U. of Chicago edition
I must stress that this is one of the most readable sentences in the book. While I do not claim that Arendt was not a great thinker, I would like to close this counterpoint opinion by reporting that this book was assigned a graduate-level (Ph.D) class in Political Economy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. During study session, fifteen of fifteen students voiced the opinion that the book was 'impenetrable' or 'overly obfuscated.'
Please, professors, teachers, and scholars: If you are to discuss Arendt, devote some time to making her prose intelligible, or otherwise allow extra time for decoding. Perhaps we needed to be philosophy majors to understand it properly; in which case, there is no argument here, just a difference of viewpoint.
Addendum: Noung points out that Arendt was a native German writer, and that while she wrote in English she did so with difficulty. Indeed, he continues, she employed semi-translators to 'Englishify' her Germanic sentence structures.
My take: If this was the case, she didn't pay enough. Also, it means she shot herself in the degree by not allowing translations of her work by scholars who were fluent enough in both languages to perform an idiomatic translation to become the first available and hence more widely-used versions.