Chiasmi International

Volume 15, 2013

Existence, Diacritics, Animality

Elena Tavani
Pages 313-342

Il mondo e la sua ombra
estetica e ontologia in Hannah Arendt e Merleau-Ponty

Starting from a specific critique of the traditional «metaphysical mistake» (i.e., the distinction between being and appearing), Hannah Arendt comes to support a “phenomenalism” that is not only radical but also spectacular in the sense that it enhances, not appearances that would replace an unknown being or substance, but an appearing as a unique exhibition on the world stage in view of an opinion to communicate or an action to perform. Along this path, an encounter with Merleau-Ponty’s thought can occur at several levels. Specifically, the thesis of the ‘spectacular’ character of the world is presented in Arendt’s political theory as intimately linked to the thesis of an aesthetic and, at the same time, ontological basis of experience, which relates her thought to the Merleau-Pontian theory of vision as “thought conditioned” by the world and “which advents” as “instituted” in a body that is properly its own (Eye and Mind). For Arendt, thought is not only invisible (“not manifest even when it is actualized,” The Life of the Mind), it is also ontologically visible as “doxa” in which it is divided into “aspects of world” that are revealed in a “specular” fashion as positions to take and show “outside,” to present and defend. This is a valuable asset in the context of political “advertising.”