Arendt Studies

Volume 1, 2017

Robert P. Crease
Pages 43-60

Arendt and the Authority of Science in Politics

Arendt’s explorations of the dynamics of politics, facts, and truth in the public sphere contain important insights into the authority of science and science denial. This article reviews and contextualizes Arendt’s views on modern science and technology, discusses her views on authority, and identifies some insights that her writings provide on the dynamics of science denial. Arendt’s writings point to another possible source of authority besides Weber’s three categories (traditional, legal-rational, charismatic), based on a relationship between ruler and ruled that precedes the issuance of commands. Her writings help clarify what makes scientific findings vulnerable to denial, expose some of the specific tactics of science denial, and include some clues for what it would take to keep the public space open, and to nourish the compelling element that would have to underlie scientific authority.