Within the heart’s darkness: The role of emotions in Arendt’s political thought

European Journal of Political Theory 18 (2):147488511664785 (2016)
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Interest in the political relevance of the emotions is growing rapidly. In light of this, Hannah Arendt’s claim that the emotions are apolitical has come under renewed fire. But many critics have misunderstood her views on the relationship between individuals, emotions and the political. This paper addresses this issue by reconstructing the conceptual framework through which Arendt understands the emotions. Arendt often describes the heart – where the emotions reside – as a place of darkness. I begin by tracing this metaphor through her work to demonstrate that it is meant to convey the inherently uncertain nature of emotions rather than a devaluation of them. I proceed to challenge the notion that Arendt adopts the Enlightenment dichotomy between reason and emotion. In fact, she rejects both as a basis for politics. However, she does identify some constructive roles for the emotions. I argue that fear is intrinsically connected to courage – the principal political virtue – in Arendt’s philosophy. In ligh...



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Dan Degerman
University of Bristol

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References found in this work

The Subject and Power.Michel Foucault - 1982 - Critical Inquiry 8 (4):777-795.
Between past and future.Hannah Arendt - 1961 - New York,: Viking Press.
Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy.Hannah Arendt - 1982 - Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Edited by Ronald Beiner.
Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy,.Hannah Arendt & Ronald Beiner - 1982 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 56 (2):386-386.

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