Observations on the Architecture of Evil: A New Reading of Eichmann on Kant
Brott, Simone (2016) Observations on the Architecture of Evil: A New Reading of Eichmann on Kant. (Unpublished)
En route from Birmingham to Syria in 2013, British-Jihadi neophytes aged 22, Yusuf Sarwar and Mohammed Ahmed purchased two books via Amazon to prepare for their mission in Syria after joining ISIS: The Koran for Dummies and Islam for Dummies. Journalists were swift to disparage their reading. The book’s author, Princeton University campus imam, Sohaib Nazeer Sultan remarked “Even though they may have ordered it, I don't think they read it.” In 1933, aged 27, Adolf Eichmann moved to Berlin to join the Sicherheitsdienst SD whereupon he read Immanuel Kant’s book the Kritik der praktischen Vernunft (The Critique of Practical Reason) for the first time. After his trial in Jerusalem, Hannah Arendt of course dismissed Eichmann’s reading of the German philosopher as thoroughly vacuous. Ever since, writers have sought to undermine the veracity of Eichmann’s account. The global Jihadis are illiterate, a journalist recently commented: they’re not well read in the Qur’an, and if they have read it, they have thoroughly misunderstood it. He cited as evidence Abdul Raqib Amin’s YouTube rhetorical: Forget everyone. Read the Koran, read the instruction of life. Find out what is jihad. Eichmann on the other hand was not illiterate in his youth. Before Berlin, he had already read Kant’s Groundwork of the Metaphysics of Morals ; he would also re-read the Critique of Practical Reason, and from his testimony and terminology we can infer he was familiar with Kantian concepts that extend beyond both books...
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