Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)




Through Hannah Arendt’s inspection of Adolf Eichmann, her studies of Kant’s political philosophy, and Life of the Mind she examines what it means to think critically and deconstructs the taken-for-granted action of thought. This paper is premised by the same guiding question as Arendt asks herself: Could thinking be a condition that makes people abstain from committing injustice or be conditioned against it? Arendt, clearly building on Kant, certainly thought it is probable; suggesting that Eichmann was not purely wicked or laced with stupidity, but the “macabre comedy” he landed a starring role in was a result of simple thoughtlessness. Turning to the current educational environment, critical thinking is a highly pursued, and increasingly imperative, skill to be learned by America’s youth. The Common Core State Standards (CCSS) directly state that critical thinking is one of three skills that are needed for children to be successful in, and out of, school. While the CCSS do not explicitly define what critical thinking is, it is evident that the justification for thinking surrounds future success. In this capacity, critical thinking happens to find itself tied to other stylish words, such as: marketability, global competition, accountability, and others. When coupled with current discourse in education, many are lead to the conclusion that critical thinking could be the single most important take-away from schooling. Through an exegetical analysis of Life of the Mind I investigate the connection between critical thinking and justice and offer insight into Arendt’s reasoning. To understand the current state of critical thinking, as justified by the CCSS, I conduct a critical reading of the standards and the literature surrounding it. It is my hope to reconcile the differences between critical thinking in the CCSS and what Arendt has to say about this important action.

1. Arendt, Life of the Mind, 4-5. 2. “What Parents Should Know,” Common Core State Standards Initiative, accessed September 29, 2015,

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.