Augustine, Arendt, and anthropy

Sophia 48 (3):253-265 (2009)
Arendt’s theoretical influence is generally traced to Heidegger and experientially to the traumatic events that occurred in Europe during the Second World War. Here, we suggest that Arendt’s conception of politics may be usefully enriched via a proto-anthropic principle found in Augustine and adopted by Arendt throughout her writings. By appealing to this anthropic principle; that without a spectator there could be no world; a profound connection is made between the ‘cosmic jackpot’ of life in the universe and the uniquely human activity that takes place in the political realm. By making this connection we suggest that solutions present themselves to a central puzzle arising in Arendt’s thought: namely, what it is that people actually do in the political realm. The first solution directly addresses the issue of content: what people talk about in Arendt’s public space. The second addresses the importance of ‘maintaining’ a space of appearances. The third considers the effect of participating in and observing the public domain. Consequently, we conclude that, for Arendt, action is nothing less than the activity of ‘world-making.’.
Keywords Action  Arendt  Augustine  Anthropic principle  Politics  Christianity
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DOI 10.1007/s11841-009-0116-5
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