Volume 23, Issue 1, Fall 2018
At Home with the Foreign
Arendt on Heidegger and the Politics of Care
This paper examines Hannah Arendt’s contribution to a conception of political life that remains vigilant of the foreignness that confronts us in our efforts to inhabit a shared world. To this end, I interpret Arendt’s less appreciated discourse on caritas, or love of the neighbor in Love and Saint Augustine, as a critical appropriation of Heidegger’s notion of care. In turning to caritas, I maintain that Arendt captures, perhaps more fully than Heidegger, the foreignness that care is destined to confront in its native desire to belong to something outside of itself. This, I argue, leads Arendt to insist that the responsibility to care is not foremost a matter of individual existence, but rather of politics, grasped precisely as an openness to the foreign in communal life.