Javier Burdman

Program Area(s):  Political Theory

Dissertation Title:

"Politics after Totalitarianism: Rethinking Evil, Action, and Judgment in Kant and Post-Kantian Political Thought"

Dissertation Committee:  Mary Dietz (chair), Peter Fenves, Lars Toender, Samuel Weber, Christoph Menke (co-tutelle supervisor)

Dissertation Summary:

My dissertation explores how the way we think about evil impacts our understanding of political action and judgment. In recent years, the problem of understanding evil after totalitarianism has attracted the attention of scholars across fields due to the publication of Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem. However, little has been written about the connection between Arendt’s thoughts on evil and her notions of political action and judgment. As a consequence, the interrelation between the three concepts, in Arendt as well as in other authors, is often overlooked. My dissertation argues that the way we think about evil plays a crucial role in our understanding of action and judgment. I develop this idea by analyzing the relationship between the three concepts in three thinkers concerned with the emergence of a new form of evil in modernity: Arendt, Immanuel Kant, and Jean-François Lyotard. Relying on intertextual analysis, close reading, and intellectual history, I reconstruct an insight on evil connecting the three authors, and shaping an anti-totalitarian understanding of action and judgment.


  • "Knowledge and the Public World: Arendt on Science, Truth, and Politics," Constellations (forthcoming).
  • “Between Banality and Radicality: Arendt and Kant on Evil and Responsibility,” European Journal of Political Theory (forthcoming, available OnlineFirst).
  • “Necessity, Contingency, and the Future of Kant: Reviewing Catherine Malabou's Before Tomorrow: Epigenesis and Rationalitydiacritics 44.1 (forthcoming).
  • Book review of Oligarchy, by Jefferey Winters, in Journal of the Argentine Political Science Association 6:2 (2012).
  • Book review of Europe, or the Infinite Task, by Rodolphe Gasché, in Theory&Event 15:4 (2012).