In the literature there are two well-established but opposite readings of Arendt: as an agonistic theorist and as a deliberative one. In between these two positions a smaller number of scholars have argued that in Arendt these two dimensions can to a large extent be reconciled. This paper follows this third path but tries to bring it one step further. In particular, it defends the idea that those scholars who have proposed this third reading of Arendt have fallen short of revealing the degree to which deliberation and agonism are, for her, interwoven. Through an original reading of Arendt’s views on judgment, persuasion, distinction and Eichmann’s banality, the paper clarifies why, for her, agonism and deliberation are not only compatible but actually mutually dependent. In other words, it clarifies why she believes that there can be no deliberation without agonism and no agonism without deliberation.
Arendt on Kant and Aesthetic Judgment in Politics
Alex Donovan Cole
Hannah Arendt discovers a theory of politics in Immanuel Kant’s aesthetic treatise, the Critique of Judgment. However, the relationship between Kant and Arendt’s politics remains unfinished. This article seeks to present a syncretic view of Arendt’s work on politics with her work on Kantian judgment. Vital to Arendt’s politics is the concept of amor mundi, the love of the world. Yet, in order for amor mundi to resonate with groups and individuals in the world, one must view the world as beautiful and, in Arendt’s words, ‘a fit place for men to live’. In other words, one must love beauty to love the world and be prepared to execute judgment upon particulars in that world according to Arendt. Such use of this judgment, however, is likely to err in ‘dark times’. Thus, Arendt views the love of the world and beauty as an open-ended process.
Radical Evil, Radical Hope
The world is facing a multitude of interconnected issues, leading to avoidable starvation, poverty and death for hundreds of millions. Is Arendt's concept of the 'banality of evil', which she adopted in preference to Kant's 'radical evil', applicable here? Are we bystanders, addicted to 'growth'? The paper considers the central role of thinking and, with the help of Greek myth and Nietzsche, the relationship between evil and hope. Finally, there is an emerging concept of 'radical hope'. What is this, could it be of help and how would it connect with Judaism's teachings of the Messiah?
Thinking in Circles
Hannah Arendt is so modern that one of the academic disputes about her at present is whether she should be classified amongst the moderns or the ‘postmoderns’, an issue which probably puts her at the borderline of our knowledge and understanding, or rather, beyond it.1 She was not a religiously practising Jew: the first letter she wrote to an old Jewish friend, Gertrud Jaspers, after the war, speaks about sending some bacon, with detailed instructions on how to cook it – and somewhat significantly, she adds ‘I’ve forgotten the German word for it, the hell with it’.
Interrupting Arendt's Radical Critique
Although Hannah Arendt is often described as a radical thinker, this article argues that such a characterisation has occluded the question of what 'radicality' might mean within the particular horizon of Arendt's thought. While the battle over Arendt's legacy is fought on terms that oppose the radical to the conservative, Arendt herself is engaged in a different struggle, namely the opposition of the radical and the banal as it emerges in Eichmann in Jerusalem (1963). This article will investigate this tension and Arendt's response to its emergence. Beginning with an account of radicality in relation to Arendt's work on crisis in Between Past and Future (1961) before turning towards the interruption of Eichmann and 'the banality of evil', this article will end by articulating a trajectory towards The Life of the Mind, Arendt's unfinished attempt, demanded by the particular crisis of Eichmann, to think unradicality radically.
Revisiting Arendtian Forgiveness in the Politics of Reconciliation
The idea of forgiveness is omnipresent in the transitional justice literature, yet this body of work, taken as a whole, is marked by conceptual, terminological and argumentative imprecision. Equivocation is common, glossing moral, theological, therapeutic and legal considerations, while arguments proceed from political, apolitical and even antipolitical premises. With forgiveness as a praxis linked to reconciliation processes in at least ten countries, concerns have grown over its negative implications for the relationship between the state and victims of state-authored injustices. Many of these debates reference Hannah Arendt. Drawing from a range of Arendt’s published and unpublished work, this article challenges the academic claim that forgiveness has no place in the politics of reconciliation. Through this ‘returning to the source’, it presents a promising mode of thinking about political forgiveness in contemporary Settler-colonial states.
The concept of recognition has been employed as a term of art in sovereign diplomacy, and in a philosophical tradition ranging from Plato to Hegel as an archetype of the emergence of political association leading to ethical civil relations. Recent liberal theorists have adapted the Hegelian 'struggle for recognition' to strengthen the argument for humane respect and human rights in the modern, multicultural state. This article emphasizes the cognitive processes and perceptual capacities of recognition. Drawing on Kant and Arendt, this article argues for a broadly aesthetic view of politics as a basis for ethical and moral appraisal, and illustrates this approach with hypothetical and actual examples of politics and art.
Freedom as a Phenomenon of Political Virtuosity
In 'What Is Freedom?', Arendt speaks of freedom as a 'phenomenon of virtuosity', claiming that this phenomenon is the original, hitherto undertheorised experience of freedom in ancient Greece and Rome, and that the idea of freedom began to appear in connection with the will in our philosophical tradition only after freedom as a phenomenon of virtuosity had in practice disappeared in the late Roman Empire - but not from all human activities in which it continued to exist in a hidden form, as the power or 'gift' of humans to begin a new line of action. My interpretation of Arendt's conception of freedom begins from and elaborates on these claims, and shows that she should be taken seriously as a critic of the late antique notion that freedom consists in the decisions we make with our will. I also show that in rejecting accounts of freedom that reduce it to a matter of the will or the intellect, Arendt relies on the notion of an inspiring 'principle' of action that functions in a manner analogous to Hegel's understanding of (moral) action as taking place against a background of unwritten rules (sittlichkeit) and as deriving its 'validity' and 'absolute' character from a spirit, or principle, immanent within it.
Reclaiming Political Agency through the Exercise of Courage
Grant M. Sharratt and Erik Wisniewski
pain through the experience of pleasure and seek instead to forge meaningful connections with one another, even though this may involve exposure to social pain. Drawing on Hannah Arendt, we argue that people must exercise courage and be willing to take
Civil Disobedience and the Politics of Theatre
Arendt scholars have given exhaustive attention to the importance of actors in Hannah Arendt's political thought. This paper focuses on the role of non-actors, which I argue are also important for a full understanding of her view of politics, freedom and power. It argues that instead of a monistic, action-centred model, Arendt advances a dualistic model of politics, a model which affords a unique position to non-acting beings through the conceptual distinction between actor and audience, or actor and spectator. My paper also argues that she might conceive an interaction between them when she offers a theatrical model of contemporary political action, relaxing the distinction which otherwise remains rigid through most of her work. This paper tries to show that civil disobedience presumes the sympathetic gaze of spectator because its actor requests the distinctively moral perspective of non-active audience in a theatrical setting of the public realm.