Arendt Studies

Volume 2, 2018

Liesbeth SchoonheimOrcid-ID
Pages 99-124

Among Lovers
Love and Personhood in Hannah Arendt

Both love and politics name relations, according to Arendt, in which a subject is constituted as a unique person. Following up on this suggestion, I explore how love gives rise to a conception of personhood that temporarily suspends the public judgments and social prejudices that reduce the other to their actions or to their social identity. I do so by tracing a similar movement in the various tropes of Arendt’s phenomenology of love: the retreat away from the collective world into the intimacy of love, followed by the necessary return to the world and the end of love. This exploration casts a new—and surprisingly positive—light on some key notions in Arendt’s thought, such as the body, the will, and life. However, Arendt disregards that love, as De Beauvoir argued, requires a constant effort in restraining our tendency to reduce the lover to their social identity.