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Philosophy Today

Volume 62, Issue 2, Spring 2018
Arendt in the Present

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Displaying: 1-20 of 25 documents


special issue: arendt in the present
1. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen, Charles Barbour In the Present Tense: Contemporary Engagements with Hannah Arendt
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2. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Peg Birmingham Superfluity and Precarity: Reading Arendt Against Butler
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In this essay I take up Butler’s and Arendt’s respective accounts of the production of precarity and superfluity, asking whether they are proximate accounts, as they seem to be, or whether Butler’s turn to precarity misses the radical nature of Arendt’s genealogy of the production of superfluity, a genealogy that begins at the inauguration of modernity, attempts to find a “perfect superfluousness” in the death camps, and continues unabated in the contemporary global world. Reading Arendt against Butler, I argue that an ontology rooted in bodily precariousness cannot adequately address the production of superfluity which produces precarity as one of its effects. If precarity is an effect of superfluity, as I argue it is, then precarity’s remedy is found not in an appeal to the general ontological condition of bodily precariousness, but in a confrontation with the production of superfluity that threatens to eradicate all conditions of worldly and earthly existence, including the ontological condition of bodily vulnerability.
3. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Roger Berkowitz The Singularity and the Human Condition
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Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition is frequently read as offering a “theory” of what it means to be human. But the bite of Arendt’s book is to think through the transformation of the human condition in the modern age. She argues that the rise of a scientific worldview fundamentally alters the earthly and worldly conditions in which human beings live. Since humans are conditioned beings, the change from our pre-modern subjection to fate to our modern human capacity to create a humanly built world threatens a fundamental shift in human being. The transformation Arendt describes is the loss of our human plurality to a technological singularity. She argues, however, that we can choose to hold on to our humanity if we persist in thinking, and thus preserve our human spontaneity and freedom.
4. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Catherine Kellogg Butler’s Arendt: Dispossession and the Calamity of the Rightless
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This article explores Judith Butler’s reinterpretation of Hannah Arendt’s work in terms of the question of dispossession. By paying attention to the changes in voice and tone in Arendt’s work, Butler has brought forward a reading of Arendt that we have not seen before, and one that we have maybe never needed so much.
5. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Peter Burdon Hannah Arendt and Edward Said: Exile and Binationalism
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In this essay, I focus on the extent to which the condition of exile influenced the way Hannah Arendt and Edward Said engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and concepts of Binationalism. Part one is largely biographical and narrates the conditions under which both parties went into exile and they ways exile influenced their intellectual development and identity. Part two analyses Arendt’s early Jewish writings and the ways she sought to affirm notions of equality and Binationalism as a method for protecting stateless refugees. Following this, I consider Said’s concern for the memory and experience of victims and his argument that the shared histories of dispossession endured by Jews and Palestinians might form the basis for an alliance. While Binationalism has largely been erased from political discourse today, I conclude by suggesting that Said’s intervention offers useful tools through which Arendt’s proposals might be rethought or reimagined today.
6. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Olivia Guaraldo Public Happiness: Revisiting an Arendtian Hypothesis
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The aim of this article is to revisit public happiness as Arendt develops it explicitly in On Revolution—and implicitly elsewhere throughout her oeuvre—in order to philosophically evaluate its ability to beget a political-theoretical framework able to relate politics to an “affective realignment,” alternative to the hegemonic paradigms of “againstness” and “resistance.” I will analyze the Arendtian theoretical framework regarding action, freedom, and happiness in its relation to the thinker’s political ontology, testing its ability to restore for us a political imaginary that is generative and affirmative. Can Arendt can help us understand the political momentum of the present and by so doing help us reassess the political, freeing it from the depoliticized quagmire of these overtly neoliberal times?
7. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Michael Ure Arendt’s Apology
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In 1967, Hannah Arendt published an essay with the deceptively simple title “Truth and Politics” (1967). Most scholarly discussions of her essay consider her distinction between a traditional political art of limited, deliberate, strategic lying and modern, organised, global lying and self-deception and then evaluate her qualified defence of the virtues of mendacity. This article suggests, however, that her essay has a much broader ambit: viz., to defend the political value of truth-telling. The main purpose of this article is to demonstrate that she formulates her essay as an apology of the truth-teller in politics and of her own truth-telling in her controversial report of the Eichmann trial. It first surveys the personal motives of Arendt’s political defence of frank speech. It shows that in developing this defence she significantly revises her scepticism about the value of truth-telling in politics. She does so by identifying three different types of truth-teller with distinctive political roles: philosophers who exemplify the truth in their own lives, citizens who see the world from other people’s perspectives, and poets and historians whose stories reconcile citizens to the past. Finally, it argues that the tragic political perspective Arendt sought to revive requires acknowledging value of the emotions in making political judgments.
8. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Valeria Pashkova, Mikhail Pashkov Truth and Truthfulness in Politics: Rereading Hannah Arendt’s Essay “Socrates”
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In light of the recent debate over post-truth or post-fact politics, Arendt’s work provides important insights on the relationship between truth and politics. While some scholars argue that Arendt regards truth as antagonistic to politics, others focus on her notion of truth of facts in politics. We assert that, for Arendt, truthfulness is essential for politics, but the truthfulness of political actors involves more than the willingness to acknowledge and recognise facts. We read Arendt’s essay “Socrates” and elicit three expectations regarding the truthfulness of political actors: the willingness to constitute one’s own doxa, the willingness to actively engage in dialogue with others and relate one’s doxa to theirs, and the willingness to develop an ongoing practice of “enlarged thought” by sustaining a mental conversation with a variety of doxai in one’s imagination. We find that this threefold notion of truthfulness is of ultimate political importance since it plays an essential role in the human ability to bring to life relationships of plurality and to constitute a “common world.” Our analysis allows us to articulate the challenges associated with practicing truthfulness in the contemporary political realm and the conditions that could enable political actors to take on this practice.
9. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Anna Yeatman Arendt and Rhetoric
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Rhetoric concerns how in speech human beings open up a place for civil possibility, a place where, as a community of speakers and hearers, they engage with questions of how best to conceive and respond to challenges arising out of the world that they share. In rhetoric the community of speakers and hearers is not only called into being but so too the nature of the topos or place that is shared, a determination that is timely or historical. The recent publication of Heidegger’s 1924 lectures on Aristotle’s Rhetoric explores this idea of rhetoric. These lectures raise questions for how and whether Heidegger sustained this conception in his later work, and also questions for how this conception may have influenced Arendt’s approach to political thought. Arendt’s conception of the role of the spectator who engages in the activity of understanding in order to “try to be at home in the world” is especially pertinent here. Arendt’s writing, so far as it calls into being a rhetorical relationship between her “speech” and her hearers/readers, is best appreciated as rhetoric.
10. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Nicole Dewandre Political Agents as Relational Selves: Rethinking EU Politics and Policy-Making with Hannah Arendt
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In this article, I argue that Hannah Arendt’s well-known but controversial distinction between labour, work, and action provides, perhaps unexpectedly, a conceptual grounding for transforming politics and policy-making at the EU level. Beyond the analysis and critique of modernity, Arendt brings the conceptual resources needed for the EU to move beyond the modern trap it fell into thirty years ago. At that time, the European Commission shifted its purpose away from enhancing interdependence among Member States with a common market towards achieving an internal market in the name of boosting growth and creating jobs. Arendt provides the conceptual tools to transform the conceptualisation of relations and of agents that fuels the growing dissatisfaction among many Europeans with EU policy-making. This argument is made through stretching and re-articulating Arendt’s labour-work-action distinction and taking seriously both the biological and plural dimensions of the human condition, besides its rational one. By applying this shift in an EU context, EU policies could change their priorities and better address the needs and expectations of plural political agents and of European citizens.
11. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Jana V. Schmidt “Words crumbled in my mouth like rotten mushrooms”: Hannah Arendt’s Fatherless Thought
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A near exclusive focus on Hannah Arendt’s concept of forgiveness from her major work The Human Condition has obscured the equally important model of reconciliation in her writings on aesthetics and in her Thought Notebook. By engaging Arendt in a dialogue with her contemporaries and friends Ingeborg Bachmann and Hermann Broch, on the one hand, and with the classic thinkers of tragedy, Aristotle and Goethe, on the other hand, I show how reconciliation responds to the situation of fatherlessness after 1945 and, as a “reconciliation with reality,” offers a new basis for intersubjectivity. Having, as Arendt writes, “enough of origin within” ourselves to do without pre-established categories cannot mean that we must begin to “father” ourselves but that, on the contrary, our inception as beings born to begin anew leaves us radically forlorn and yet equipped with everything we need to “make world” with one another. The essay contends that imagination, judgment, and understanding build a network of thought figures in Arendt that are tied to reality through the work of reconciliation.
12. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
James Martel Arendt and the Pilgrims: Individualism, Community, and American Exceptionalism
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Although Arendt rejects all manifestations of what she calls “the absolute,” the way that theology trumps politics, she yet overlooks the theological basis of one of her most cherished models of political origins, the story of the Mayflower Compact. Arendt sees the Mayflower Compact as affording a basis for a community that is joined only through mutual promising, allowing a maximal amount of individualism and struggle within a collectively determined entity. Yet she downplays the role that theology serves in supporting this compact. In overlooking the connection between the Pilgrim’s ideology and Rousseau’s concept of the general will which has its own Calvinist origins, Arendt evinces a tendency to forgive a basis for politics in America which she vehemently rejects in the European context. Insofar as liberalism is itself redolent of this Calvinist form of pseudo-individualism, Arendt demonstrates an alternative model even as it remains tangled with its theological origins.
13. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Miguel Vatter Roman Civil Religion and the Question of Jewish Politics in Arendt
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This article discusses the question of how Arendt’s mature “neo-Roman” republican political theory relates to her early . It argues that her early reflections on the problem of Jewish politics in modernity already adopt one of the main pillars of her later republican political theory, i.e., the substitution of federalism for sovereignty. The article puts forth the hypothesis that Arendt’s republicanism takes up the idea that Romans and Jews, during their republican periods, both held a “civil” conception of religion. Arendt’s conception of civil religion is analyzed in light of her readings of Virgil. The article concludes that Arendt’s mature political thought is neither “non-religious” nor contains a “political theology” but that it does put forward a civil-religious interpretation of natality and plurality.
scholar session
14. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Leonard Lawlor Difference and Dependency, Violence and Sublimation: Two Questions for Kelly Oliver
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This essay assesses Kelly Oliver’s long publication career by focusing on two novel ideas we find in her work. Both are ideas belonging to the new kind of ethics Oliver envisions. On the one hand, there is the idea of dependency. Through dependency, she aims to ground an obligation to care for the ones who provide the care to the dependents. The second idea is sublimation. Through her studies of psychoanalysis, Oliver shows that sublimation allows the subject to distance herself from the violence of the drives. Sublimation is Oliver’s response to constitutive violence. In regard to Oliver’s ethical vision, I raise two questions. The first concerns the kind of obligation Oliver grounds; it seems to be hypothetical and not categorical. The second question concerns constitutive violence, whose existence Oliver seems to argue against. I conclude my essay by arguing that we must recognize the constitutive violence in all experience, and find a response to it.
15. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Kelly Oliver Rethinking Response Ethics: A Response to Len Lawlor
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Working against both Hegelian recognition and ethics based on vulnerability, I argue for response ethics or an ethics of ambivalence. While the ideal of mutual recognition is admirable, in practice, recognition is experienced as conferred by the very groups and institutions responsible for withholding it in the first place. In other words, recognition is distributed according to an axis of power that is part and parcel of systems of dominance and oppression. I both challenge the concept of vulnerability as exclusive to, or constitutive of, humanity, on the one hand, and criticize the concept for leveling differences in levels of vulnerability, on the other.
review essay
16. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Travis Holloway Neoliberalism and the Future of Democracy
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This paper describes neoliberalism and summarizes new works on democracy in Continental philosophy. Unlike laissez-faire or liberal economic theory—a “leave us alone” strategy in which the state does not interfere with private enterprise—neoliberal governments use the resources of the state to assist the market directly and employ the market to direct or oversee the resources of the state. Alongside neoliberal government, and in its wake, is a society in which the guiding axioms for each human being are self-entrepreneurship and competition. Over the last decade, however, a new body of philosophical work has been dissociating democracy from neoliberal government, critiquing a failed system of political representation, and considering to what extent democracy must take place beyond or outside of the current state. Of equal concern to these philosophers is how to take flight from a way of life that is characterized by self-entrepreneurship and competition. For some, the start of a political future beyond neoliberalism hinges upon a recent distinction between constituent and destituent forms of power. Whereas constituent power attempts to reform one’s government through demonstrations in public space, destituent power abandons the project of reforming one’s government momentarily or even completely in order to experience another form of life entirely.
book reviews
17. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Lucy Benjamin Adriana Cavarero, Inclinations: A Critique of Rectitude
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18. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Pascal Massie Robert C. Scharff, How History Matters to Philosophy: Reconsidering Philosophy’s Past after Positivism
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19. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Gabriel Serbu Patrick Hayes and Jan Wilm, eds., Beyond the Ancient Quarrel: Literature, Philosophy, and J. M. Coetzee
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book discussion: jill stauffer, ethical loneliness: the injustice of not being heard
20. Philosophy Today: Volume > 62 > Issue: 2
Bettina Bergo On Learning to Hear Ethical Loneliness
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