Theory, Culture and Society 35 (1):3-22 (2018)

If genuine political activity can only be undertaken by citizens in the public sphere in a nation-state, what of stateless people today – asylum seekers and refugees cut adrift on the high seas? This is what is at stake in Hannah Arendt’s political theory of necessity. This article reconsiders Arendt’s notion of the Greek oikos as the sphere of necessity with the aim of challenging the idea that there is a condition of necessity or mere subsistence, where life is reduced to satisfying basic biological needs. For Arendt, the Greek oikos is the model that provides the inspiration for her theory because necessity activities were kept quite separate from action in the polis. The ordinary and the undistinguished happen in the oikos and its equivalent, with the polis being reserved for extraordinary acts done for glory without any regard for life. The exclusionary nature of this theory of the polis as action has, at best, been treated with kid gloves by Arendt’s commentators. With reference to Heidegger on the polis and Agamben’s notion of oikonomia, I endeavour to show that the so-called ordinary is embedded in a way of life that is extraordinary and the key to grasping humanness.
Keywords No keywords specified (fix it)
Categories No categories specified
(categorize this paper)
DOI 10.1177/0263276416674538
Edit this record
Mark as duplicate
Export citation
Find it on Scholar
Request removal from index
Revision history

Download options

PhilArchive copy

Upload a copy of this paper     Check publisher's policy     Papers currently archived: 63,375
External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server
Configure custom proxy (use this if your affiliation does not provide a proxy)
Through your library

References found in this work BETA

Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy,.Hannah Arendt & Ronald Beiner - 1982 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 56 (2):386-386.
Gesamtausgabe.Martin Heidegger - 1975 - Klostermann.

View all 12 references / Add more references

Citations of this work BETA

No citations found.

Add more citations

Similar books and articles

Ordinary, Extraordinary and Neutral Medical Treatment.Clifton Perry - 1983 - Theoretical Medicine and Bioethics 4 (1).
A Renaissance of Globalization: A Theory of Compassionate Humanity.Tony Svetelj - 2015 - Essays in the Philosophy of Humanism 23 (2):217-233.
The end of life care, "ordinary" or "extraordinary"?M. Lombardi - 2009 - Revue des Sciences Religieuses 83 (1):115-130.
Life, Prolongation Of: Ordinary and Extraordinary Means.G. R. Dunstan - 1981 - In A. S. Duncan, G. R. Dunstan & R. B. Welbourn (eds.), Dictionary of Medical Ethics. Darton, Longman & Todd. pp. 266--8.


Added to PP index

Total views
17 ( #613,826 of 63,347 )

Recent downloads (6 months)
2 ( #300,727 of 63,347 )

How can I increase my downloads?


My notes