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An Education in Judgment

Hannah Arendt and the Humanities

In An Education in Judgment, philosopher D. N. Rodowick makes the definitive case for a philosophical humanistic education aimed at the cultivation of a life guided by both self-reflection and interpersonal exchange. Such a life is an education in judgment, the moral capacity to draw conclusions alone and with others, and in letting one’s own judgments be answerable to the potentially contrasting judgments of others. Thinking, for Rodowick, is an art we practice with and learn from each other on a daily basis.
In taking this approach, Rodowick follows the lead of Hannah Arendt, who made judgment the cornerstone of her conception of community. What is important for Rodowick, as for Arendt, is the cultivation of “free relations,” in which we allow our judgments to be affected and transformed by those of others, creating “an ever-widening fabric of intersubjective moral consideration.” That is a fragile fabric, certainly, but one that Rodowick argues is worth pursuing, caring for, and preserving. This original work thinks with and beyond Arendt about the importance of the humanities and what “the humanities” amounts to beyond the walls of the university.

224 pages | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2021

Philosophy: Aesthetics, General Philosophy, Political Philosophy




“In this elegantly crafted book, Rodowick offers a powerful defense of humanistic education. These pages resound both with Rodowick’s own voice and with the voice of his constant interlocutor, Hannah Arendt, as he works out, in spirited agreement and thoughtful disagreement with her, a philosophically rich account (which is also a model) of the conversations on which the human faculty of judgment depends.”

Patchen Markell, Cornell University

An Education in Judgment is a challenging and substantial contribution to Arendt scholarship and a major new work of critical self-reflection on the humanities by one of the field’s leading proponents. Rodowick offers an illuminating reexamination of a cluster of texts written in the last decade of Arendt’s life, illustrating their interconnectedness, probing their difficulties, and arguing for their compelling contemporary relevance.”

Thomas Bartscherer, Bard College

“For readers familiar with now longstanding laments about the ‘crisis of the humanities’, An Education in Judgment is a breath of fresh air. Drawing on Hannah Arendt's evocative writings on aesthetics and politics, Rodowick brilliantly charts a new way forward on well-travelled terrain. The fate of the humanities lies not in shoring up what is left of the canon but in developing wholly quotidian practices of critical thinking and judging. Rooted in the ordinary capacities of all citizens, the humanities become a world-building activity that takes account of plurality and different perspectives on a common world. Recognizing with Arendt the crucial importance of publicity, this book breaks free of narrow academic debates and offers a public vision of the humanities as an imaginative space for creating a new genre of the human, not as telos but as open-ended future.”

Linda M. G. Zerilli, University of Chicago

Table of Contents


I           The Art of Thinking

II         Judgment and Culture

III        Culture and Curation

IV        The World-Observer

V         Politics and Philosophy, or Restoring a Common World

VI        An as Yet Undetermined Animal



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