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Displaying: 61-70 of 755 documents

61. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Liisi Keedus, Hannah Arendt’s “Histories”: A Contextual Perspective
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In Arendt’s interrogations of political modernity, the concepts of history and politics have an ambiguous relation. On the one hand, she insisted that the performative character of politics as action was bound to its narrative aspect as remembrance. She was also a fervent proponent of integrating the historical sense into political understanding. On the other hand, Arendt characterized the modern historical sensibility from the point of view of politics as a “ghastly absurdity,” and asserted that the political thought of our times needed to free itself both “from history” and “from thinking in historical terms.” This paper explores the different meanings that Arendt granted to “history” as a (anti)political force and to historical sensibility as the basis for political understanding. It argues thatnot only were Arendt’s rejection of the modern concept of history and its politics of history central for her critique, but that it was one of the key concerns that shaped the articulation of her own theory of action. The paper also examines the problem against the background of the intellectual tradition of Arendt’s youth and in particular its uncompromising antihistoricism.
62. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Heath Massey, When Are We When We Think? Arendt’s Temporal Interpretation of Thinking and Thoughtlessness
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According to Hannah Arendt, the first impetus for her final project, The Life of the Mind, was her astonishment at the apparent lack of thought at the root of Adolf Eichmann’s crimes against humanity—a “manifest shallowness” which, nevertheless, “was not stupidity, but thoughtlessness.” This spectacle of the absence of thought, in the light of the immeasurable harm done to the victims of the Nazi regime, motivated her to get to the bottom of what it means to think. Since thinking is often portrayed by philosophers as a withdrawal from the world, Arendt raises the question “Where are we when we think?” In pursuit of an answer, she provides a reading of Kafka’s parable “HE,” which she interprets as a description of the “region of thought” as a battleground between the past and thefuture. This parable enables Arendt to understand the activity of thinking in terms of temporality. While Kafka’s protagonist dreams of rising above the conflict and adopting a position outside time, Arendt argues that thoughtful reflection happens in the “gap between past and future” which philosophers have called the nunc stans or the moment. Rather than being timeless, in her view, thinking moves along a diagonal “thought-train” emerging from this gap. Arendt sheds more light on thinking by considering how its temporality differs from that of willing, which is determined by a primacy of the future. This difference between thinking and willing produces a conflict between them, which many philosophers have struggled to resolve. Arendt presents Hegel as a case in which this conflict is resolvednot, as we might expect, by a triumph of thought, but rather a triumph of the will. Arendt’s reflections on the temporality of thinking in Kafka and Hegel enable us to distinguish several different forms of thoughtlessness according to their dominant tense. Although Arendt does not spell out these distinctions herself, they make it possible to develop a deeper understanding of Eichmann’s thoughtlessness and its relation to evil.
63. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Irene McMullin, The Amnesia of the Modern: Arendt on the Role of Memory in the Constitution of the Political
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In this paper I consider the essential role that public memory plays in the establishment and maintenance of the political arena and its space of appearance. Without this space and the shared memory that allows it to appear, Hannah Arendt argues, transience and finitude would consume the excellence of word and deed—just as the “natural ruin of time” consumes its mortal performer. The modern era displays a kind of mnemonic failure, however, a situation arising not only from technological developments that “outsource” memory but from several normative breakdowns that Arendt describes as characteristic of modernity. The consequence is the individual’s loss of personal, living access to the community’s memories, and the community’s own failure to engage in the difficultchoice of what counts as worthy of preservation. In failing to ask this question, however, the community abdicates responsibility for establishing the shared norms by which it will govern itself in times of crisis.
64. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Natalie Nenadic, Genocide and Sexual Atrocities: Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem and Karadžić in New York
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International law has recently recognized that sexual atrocities can be acts of genocide. This precedent was pioneered through a landmark lawsuit in New York against Radovan Karadžić, head of the Bosnian Serbs (Kadic v. Karadzic, 1993–2000), a case in which I played a central role. I argue that we may situate this development philosophically in relation to Hannah Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil. She aims to secure a better understanding of genocide than was achieved at the Nuremberg Trials (1945) and at the Eichmann trial (1961). Arendt claims that these trials were limited by formalism because they applied familiar paradigms onto these new experiences in a manner that obscured what was distinctive about them and that demanded original thinking and a new paradigm. Nuremberg obscured genocide by miscasting it as a traditional “war crime,” a problem that the Jerusalem court exposed butcould have better clarified. Through a first-hand account, I show how we too had to secure a new paradigm by treating the facts on their own terms and coining the crime as “genocidal rape.” We had to wrest this paradigm from a prevailing approach that also formally applied the category of “war crimes” onto these experiences in a way that obscured them and interfered with justice.
65. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Serena Parekh, Between Community and Humanity: Arendt, Judgment, and Responsibility to the Global Poor
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I argue in this paper that Hannah Arendt can make a valuable contribution to the debate over global justice and our obligations to the global poor. I maintain that Arendt’s work helps us to see how we might be able to combine the best impulses of both partialists and impartialists, and find a middle ground between taking seriously the importance of community as a human good, and the pressing ethical demands of noncitizens. I demonstrate that throughout her corpus, we see both impulses at work. Arendt’s appreciation for communitarianism is evident in a number of features of her political philosophy: the undesirability of a world state, and the necessity of a political community to secure human rights, a public sphere, and freedom. By contrast, Arendt’s cosmopolitanism is rootedin two features of her political phenomenology: that political action is about the world, a love of the world, and not particular people; and that human togetherness underlies action while human solidarity is its primary motivation. In addition to these two seemingly contradictory threads in Arendt’s work there is a third element: Arendt’s attempt to mediate between these two impulses through her concept of judgment. To judge means to start from your position within a community, and to take into consideration all other relevant perspectives, regardless of nationality. In this manner, we are able to take seriously what we owe to both our compatriotsand people in dire need who are not fellow citizens. In short, in judging, though we begin from our partialist commitments, we must take on a larger cosmopolitan perspective, and ultimately mediate between the two perspectives. Consequently, I hope to show that Arendt can indeed make a contribution to the ongoing debate over our moral obligations to noncitizens in situations of dire necessity.
66. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Fanny Söderbäck, Impossible Mourning: Sophocles Reversed
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Focusing on the way in which sexual difference is articulated in Sophocles’ Antigone, I offer a reading that reverses the dialectic most commonly ascribed to the play. While most interlocutors of this classic tragedy connect its heroine to divine law and the private realm and see Creon as a representative of human law and politics, I trace what I call a Sophoclean reversal at the core of the play, suggesting that, through a series of negations and contaminations, things are the opposite of what they seem to be. Using Hannah Arendt’s distinction between the private and public realms as my main point of departure, I show how such a readingreveals the internal contradiction and inherent impossibility of a society whose foundation is the exclusion of women from political life. Such a society, just like Antigone, is an anti seed: it carries within it the necessity of its own downfall.
67. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 2
Robin Weiss, Arendt and the American Pragmatists: Her Debate with Dewey and Some American Strains in Her Thought
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Arendt and Dewey argue that action is only political when undertaken in a certain way and fear the abolition of a realm in which action can remain political in the strongest sense of the term. But unlike Dewey, Arendt seems to bar some activities from admittance to the public sphere on the grounds that they are insufficiently political. These purportedly nonpolitical activities include urgent measures undertaken to alleviate human want, the application of the sciences to human life, andendeavors to free the populous from political life itself. Dewey however selectively allows these activities to be considered political if and when they prove they are not a threat to the plurality, the hallmark of the public realm. Science must accommodate rather than stifle plurality of opinion, political activity must strive toward an end other than freedom from political life, and action must be performed by actors exercising judgment, in accord with principles. In this way, Dewey’s work show us in more concrete detail than Arendt’s, but in the same spirit, how the private sphere can overlap with the political sphere without infiltrating it or robbing it of its distinctness.
68. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Shaun Gallagher, Embodiment and Phenomenal Qualities: An Enactive Interpretation
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I argue that an older debate in phenomenology concerning Husserl’s notion of hyletic data can throw some light on contemporary debates about qualia and phenomenal consciousness. Both debates tend to ignore important considerations about bodily experience and how specific kinds of bodily experience can shape one’s consciousness of the world. A revised and fully embodied conception of hyletic experience enriches the concept of enactive perception.
69. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Robert Hanna, Minding the Body
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Precisely how and precisely where is human conscious experience located in the natural world? The Extended Conscious Mind Thesis says this:The constitutive mechanisms of human conscious experience include both extra-neural bodily facts and also extra-bodily worldly facts.Recently, in “Spreading the Joy? Why the Machinery of Consciousness Is (Probably) Still in the Head,” Andy Clark has argued for what I call The Cautious Consciousness-Is-All-Neural Thesis:Because the arguments currently on offer for The Extended Conscious Mind Thesis fall short of decisive proof, then, all things considered, we should conclude that the constitutive mechanisms of human conscious experience are all either in the brain or the central nervous system.I agree with Clark that The Extended Conscious Mind Thesis is (probably) false. But I also think that there is sufficient reason for rejecting Clark’sCautious Consciousness-Is-All-Neural Thesis, and for accepting what I call The Body-Bounded Conscious Mind Thesis:Human conscious experience occurs everywhere in our living bodies, constitutively including the brain and the central nervous system, and ALSO constitutively including all the other vital systems of the living body, right out to the skin, but no further out than that.If what[ever] consciousness [there is] spreads all over human bodies, then there won’t be any temptation to use the [Cartesian] word ‘ego’. —L. Wittgenstein
70. Philosophical Topics: Volume > 39 > Issue: 1
Julian Kiverstein, Social Understanding without Mentalizing
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The standard view in philosophy and psychology claims that mentalizing is necessary and sufficient for social understanding. Mentalizing (also known as “mindreading”) is the name given to the cognitive capacities humans employ in explaining and predicting their own and other’s actions. The standard view is rejected by philosophers working in the phenomenological tradition. They have argued that mentalizing is neither necessary nor sufficient for social understanding. They suggest instead that most of the time we understand each other through what Shaun Gallagher has called “embodied practices.” My aim in this paper is to clarify and defend the claim that social understanding is grounded in embodied practice.