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’.
Thinking in Circles
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.
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.
In her essay On Violence (1970), Hannah Arendt criticizes what she calls Sartre’s ‘new faith’ of violence. She argues that his call to the oppressed peoples to turn to a violent struggle to achieve freedom from colonialisation is an idea that was not known in the history of revolutions. In addition, Sartre’s glorification of violence is totally opposed to the Hegelian and Marxian tradition, and to any ‘leftist humanism’. Therefore, Sartre should be included, she holds, among ‘the new militants’ or ‘the new preachers of violence’ of the New Left. To support her views, Arendt criticizes passages in Sartre’s Critique of Dialectical Reason and in his preface to Frantz Fanon’s The Wretched of the Earth.
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?
justifications and costs of the use of violence in liberation struggles, I bring into conversation two of the most prominent political thinkers of the twentieth century who examine the role of violence in political resistance: Hannah Arendt and Frantz Fanon
“Had I known what was going to happen, I would probably still have done it.” 1 Margarethe von Trotta’s 2013 film Hannah Arendt , starring Barbara Sukowa as Hannah Arendt raises sociopolitical and specifically philosophical questions in
On Reinhart Koselleck's Intellectual Relations to Carl Schmitt
Arendt? Heidelberger Entstehungsspuren und bundesrepublikanische Liberalisierungsschichten von Reinhart Kosellecks “Kritik und Krise” [From Carl Schmitt to Hannah Arendt? On the Heidelbergian genesis and the West German liberalization layers of Reinhart
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.
Exemplary Resistance and the Shadows of Complicity
precious pearls, ‘gleaming against the dark backdrop of horrors at the bottom of the sea’, and compares her work, in gathering them, to that of a pearl diver ( Broz 2004: Lxi ). Pearl diving is also a term that Hannah Arendt uses to describe a distinctive