Arendt Studies

Volume 1, 2017

Shmuel Lederman
Pages 87-110

Arendt and Blücher
Reflections on Philosophy, Politics, and Democracy

The importance of Hannah Arendt’s intellectual dialogue with her husband, Heinrich Blücher is widely acknowledged, yet it has rarely been systematically studied. In this paper, I use Blücher’s lectures to highlight the way some of his reflections and insights shed new light on Arendt’s political thought. Blücher, I seek to show, offers through the figure of Socrates an alternative under­standing of the meaning of philosophy and its relation to politics. His reflections help us see that Arendt worked with two conceptions of philosophy: not only the dominant one in the Western philosophical tradition, of which she was famously critical, but also an alternative one in which philosophy and politics become mutually supportive, rather than mutually exclusive activities. What emerges from the comparison between Arendt’s and Blücher’s reflections on the relationship between philosophy and politics, I argue, is a joint and life-long commitment on the part of both to question the philosophical tradition in order to offer new theoretical foundations for participatory democratic citizenship.