: This article draws from Hannah Arendt's theory of "inter-est" to formulate a model of coalition discourse that can coarticulate difference and commonality and approach them as mutually nourishing conditions rather than as polarities. By disrupting the normative fantasies of unified, a priori subjectivity and universal truth, interest-based discourse facilitates political interactions that neither rely on sameness nor reify difference to the exclusion of connection.
The author argues for bringing the work of Michel Foucault and Hannah Arendt into dialogue with respect to the links between power, subjectivity, and agency.Although one might assume that Foucault and Arendt come from such radically different philosophical starting points that such a dialogue would be impossible, the author argues that there is actually a good deal of common ground to be found between these two thinkers. Moreover, the author suggests that Foucault's and Arendt's divergent views about the role that (...) power plays in the constitution of subjectivity and agency should be seen as complementary rather than opposed. (shrink)
This paper argues that Hannah Arendt's political theory offers key insights into the power that binds together the feminist movement - the power of solidarity. Second-wave feminist notions of solidarity were grounded in notions of shared identity; in recent years, as such conceptions of shared identity have come under attack for being exclusionary and repressive, feminists have been urged to give up the idea of solidarity altogether. However, the choice between (repressive) identity and (fragmented) non-identity is a false opposition, and (...) the Arendtian account of solidarity developed here allows us to move beyond this opposition. Thus, Arendt provides us with a model of solidarity that can stand a post-identity politics feminist theory in good stead. Key Words: Hannah Arendt feminist theory identity politics power solidarity. (shrink)
If we understand Arendt’s work on totalitarianism as the beginning of her philosophizing, then we can better appreciate her concern with human nature and better judge her Existenz philosophy. Certifying Arendt as an existentialist allows those who would label her to recast her ideas into the language of modernity and thereby abolish the nature that stalks modem theorizing. Eliminating nature as a reckoning also obliterates history as an anchor and offers modems unlimited will for shaping the future. But Arendt is (...) decisively anti-modem in her formulation ofImagination, which she uses to connect men to the past, to the deeds and the speech that set limits to human action. Imagination allows her to break through the thought-systems that now substitute for a God who is no-more and for a rationalist potential that is not-yet. This in-between forms a space of existence for thinkers who want to be at home in the world. (shrink)
This paper has three purposes: first, to explicate the ex istential basis of Arendt's theory of action. This will be done by first tracing the intellectual derivation of Arendt's existentialism and the modifications she made to fit it in to her public realm. Second, I will demonstrate the con nection between Arendt's existentialism and her formula tion of political freedom. Third, I will illustrate throughout that Arendt's political ideas, if they are to be properly understood, must be subsumed under her (...) existentialism .\nPart I treats Arendt's effort to find a home for the in dividual Human Being by attacking the modern tendency to make freedom an inner domain of the mind and refuge from the outside world. We will see how she uses the ideas of Heidegger and Jaspers to counter the Being of Kant and the philosophy of Mill and Augustine. Part II demonstrates her effort to make freedom a world reality and counter to the forces of totalitarianism: the modern enchantment with totality and an inexorable history. She attacks the Will, consciousness, Being, and the historical process itself.\nFinding no suitable conceptualization of freedom which makes it political by giving it a public space, Arendt turns finally to Jaspers' communicative existentialism and Duns Scotus' emphasis on contingency. (shrink)
Each of the books that Hannah Arendt published in her lifetime was unique, and to this day each continues to provoke fresh thought and interpretations. This was never more true than for Eichmann in Jerusalem, her account of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, where she first used the phrase “the banality of evil.” Her consternation over how a man who was neither a monster nor a demon could nevertheless be an agent of the most extreme evil evoked derision, outrage, and (...) misunderstanding. The firestorm of controversy prompted Arendt to readdress fundamental questions and concerns about the nature of evil and the making of moral choices. Responsibility and Judgment gathers together unpublished writings from the last decade of Arendt’s life, as she struggled to explicate the meaning of Eichmann in Jerusalem. At the heart of this book is a profound ethical investigation, “Some Questions of Moral Philosophy”; in it Arendt confronts the inadequacy of traditional moral “truths” as standards to judge what we are capable of doing, and she examines anew our ability to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. We see how Arendt comes to understand that alongside the radical evil she had addressed in earlier analyses of totalitarianism, there exists a more pernicious evil, independent of political ideology, whose execution is limitless when the perpetrator feels no remorse and can forget his acts as soon as they are committed. Responsibility and Judgment is an essential work for understanding Arendt’s conception of morality; it is also an indispensable investigation into some of the most troubling and important issues of our time. (shrink)
The favourable social conditions Fechner met at Leipzig with its university and its book industry as well as the close ties to the citizenship of that town were of outstanding importance for G.Th. Fechner (1801â1887), his scientific achievements as natural scientist and philosopher, as the founder of psychophysics and of experimental aesthetics. Since 1825 Fechner had been integrated into its social, scientific and art life in many different ways. His political and theoretical social ideas were obviously influenced by ist bourgeois (...) liberal circles. (shrink)
Heidegger's 1950 claim to Jaspers (later repeated in his Spiegel interview), that his Nietzsche lectures represented a "resistance" to Nazism is premised on the understanding that he and Jaspers have of the place of science in the Western world. Thus Heidegger can emphasize Nietzsche's epistemology, parsing Nietzsche's will to power, contra Nazi readings, as the metaphysical culmination of the domination of the West by scientism and technologism. It is in this sense that Heidegger argues that German Nazism is "in essence" (...) the same as Soviet Bolshevism and American capitalism. Jaspers himself had likewise emphasized the Will to Power by contrast with the doctrine of eternal recurrence. Heidegger differs from Jaspers (as from their mutual student Hannah Arendt) inasmuch as Jaspers preserves an enthusiasm for the possibility of scientific certainty while yet recognizing (as Heidegger does) a strong sense of the limits of science. None of the three can correctly be labeled anti-scientific. The essay closes by recalling Arendt's reflections on the very possibility of resistance using the example of Jaspers' own resistance to contemporary political events.
In this article, I offer a reassessment of the influence of two disparate bodies of thought – republicanism and existentialism – on Hannah Arendt. Arendt, I argue, is not involved in an ‘agonistic appropriation’ of Heidegger. Arendt identifies two opposed attitudes in Heidegger’s work. The first Promethean moment places Heidegger squarely in the tradition of Western political philosophy, and the second seemingly correcting for this recommends a quietism. Arendt rejects both these attitudes. Machiavelli rather than Heidegger, I argue, is the (...) key influence on Arendt's political thought. Through a reading of Arendt’s published works and her unpublished 1955 lecture notes on Machiavelli I show that the central categories of Arendt’s thought emerge from her meditation on Machiavelli’s texts. Arendt finds in Machiavelli a performative understanding of politics, an accurate understanding of the connection between morality and politics, and a primacy given to politics that she thought it deserves. (shrink)
While the recent publication of the Hannah Arendt-Martin Heidegger correspondence confirms that there existed a close personal tie between these two thinkers, the relation between their philosophies is far more problematic. This article argues that Arendt's originality presents itself in its full light in her two major theoretical works of the 1950s, Between Past and Future and The Human Condition , when these works are considered to present a thinly veiled, implicit critique of Heidegger's philosophy. Arendt's critique becomes especially visible (...) in the 'existential' role that she attributed to natality in its relation to political action and to remembrance, placing in question the central orientation of Heidegger's existential ontology in terms of being-toward-death. (shrink)
In a brief comment in ‘History of the Lie’, his one sustained engagement with Arendt, Derrida criticizes the ‘absence’ of any reference to the ‘problematic of testimony, witnessing, or bearing witness’ in her work, and asserts that she was ‘not interested’ in what ‘distinguishes’ testimony from ‘proof’. This passage links Derrida’s reading of Arendt to a theme that concerns him throughout his later work, specifically the ‘affirmation’ or ‘act of faith’ that ostensibly conditions all human relations, and the possibility of (...) sociality in general. In this article, I claim not only that Arendt did address the problem of testimony or witnessing, and the difference between bearing witness and establishing proof, but also that her consideration of these issues represents an alternative to many of the arguments Derrida develops in his later work, especially his approach to responsibility and judgment, secrecy and memory, and the relation between the self and others. (shrink)
The notion of biopolitical sovereignty and the theory of the state of exception are perspectives derived from Carl Schmitt’s thought and Michel Foucault’s writings that have been popularized by critical political theorists like Giorgio Agamben and Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri of late. This article argues that these perspectives are not sufficient analytical points of departure for a critique of the contemporary politics of terror, violence and war marked by a growing global exploitation of bodies, tightened management of life, and (...) endless and unpredictable abusive force. To better capture the singularity of our present condition of violence, war and terror, a supplementation of Schmitt’s and Foucault’s approaches by way of Hannah Arendt’s language of political action and agonistic engagement is useful. By bringing Arendt’s language of political agony to bear on contemporary biopolitical debates and discourses, we wish to revisit common practices of war and terror as matters of ‘agonal sovereignty’. ‘Agonal sovereignty’ allows us to peer into the ‘abyss of total violence’ that manifests itself after sovereign decisionism and biopolitical modalities of power have taken over the everyday conduct of political affairs. (shrink)
In The Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt explores the relationship between thinking, willing and judging. She poses the question of whether these may be among those conditions that prevent a person from doing evil. While many consider her account of thinking and willing (she died before writing the third volume on judging) insufficient for treating this question, I argue that in order fully to understand Arendt's notion of the will, particularly as it relates to our ability to avoid doing (...) evil, one must consider the way in which she attempts to overcome the Augustinian dilemma of how one can love both God and one's neighbor at the same time. Drawing on her Love and Saint Augustine, I seek to show that her 'Augustinian' notion of the will is extremely fruitful for helping us understand what she meant by the two movements of withdrawal from, and activity within, the world. Key Words: Arendt Augustine ethics evil love will. (shrink)
This paper offers a restatement of the basic project of Hannah Arendt's Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy, tries to trace its theoretical motivation, and presents some criticisms of Arendt's interpretation of Kant's Critique of Judgment. Arendt's political philosophy as a whole is an attempt to ground the idea of human dignity on the publicly displayed 'words and deeds' that con stitute the realm of human affairs. This project involves a philo sophical response both to Plato's impugning of the dignity of (...) the polis and to Hegel's founding of modern historicism. The Kant Lectures bring this philosophical project to its completion because the enact ment of public deeds presupposes a company of judging spectators who draw meaning from the spectacle by judging and appreciating what is enacted. But this conception, precisely because it relates so deeply to Arendt's own theoretical impulse, leads to a sometimes onesided and misleading reading of Kant. Key Words: aesthetic judgment dialogue/communication Hannah Arendt Immanuel Kant political judgment. (shrink)
Machine generated contents note: 1. Introduction Seyla Benhabib; Part I. Freedom, Equality, and Responsibility: 2. Arendt on the foundations of equality Jeremy Waldron; 3. Arendt's Augustine Roy T. Tsao; 4. The rule of the people: Arendt, archê, and democracy Patchen Markell; 5. Genealogies of catastrophe: Arendt on the logic and legacy of imperialism Karuna Mantena; 6. On race and culture: Hannah Arendt and her contemporaries Richard H. King; Part II. Sovereignty, the Nation-State and the Rule of Law: 7. Banishing the (...) sovereign? Internal and external sovereignty in Arendt Andrew Arato and Jean Cohen; 8. The decline of order: Hannah Arendt and the paradoxes of the nation-state Christian Volk; 9. The Eichmann trial and the legacy of jurisdiction Leora Bilsky; 10. International law and human plurality in the shadow of totalitarianism: Hannah Arendt and Raphael Lemkin Seyla Benhabib; Part III. Politics in Dark Times: 11. In search of a miracle: Hannah Arendt and the atomic bomb Jonathan Schell; 12. Hannah Arendt between Europe and America: optimism in dark times Benjamin R. Barber; 13. Keeping the republic: reading Arendt's On Revolution after the fall of the Berlin Wall Dick Howard; Part IV. Judging Evil: 14. Are Arendt's reflections on evil still relevant? Richard Bernstein; 15. Banality reconsidered Susan Neiman; 16. The elusiveness of Arendtian judgment Bryan Garsten; 17. Existential values in Arendt's treatment of evil and morality George Kateb. (shrink)
Hannah Arendt is recognized as one of the most important political theorists of the 20th century. This paper, however, suggests that she is as much a thinker as a theorist. Against the professionalized discourse of political theory that offers theories of democracy, citizenship, and liberalism, Arendt insists that political thinking is of more importance that political theory. The force of Arendt's political insight is that we court danger when we take thinking for granted. Against the worship of reason and rationalized (...) calculation that dominates political discourse, Arendt holds up an idea of thinking that sets up obstacles to hasty and thoughtless action. The paper develops Arendt's particular articulation of what it calls Arendt's activity of thinking. (shrink)