Idealistic Studies

Volume 53, Issue 3, Fall 2023

Paul T. WilfordOrcid-ID, Samuel A. Stoner
Pages 213-235

Arendt’s Kantian Existentialism and the Political Significance of Jesus of Nazareth

Despite her emphasis on politics, Hannah Arendt’s account of the existential grounds of action in The Human Condition culminates in a discussion of Jesus of Nazareth that emphasizes the significance of forgiveness for grasping the radicality of human freedom. This essay investigates Jesus’s role in Arendt’s thought by excavating and explicating the premises that undergird her account of Jesus’s political significance. It argues that Arendt’s innovative approach to politics is complemented by a comparably innovative conception of human agency and shows how Arendt’s defense of the autonomy of the political rests on a novel metaphysics of action—a ‘Kantian existentialism’—that underlies and explains her account of Jesus’s political significance.