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Studia Phaenomenologica

Volume 12, 2012

Possibilities of Embodiment

James Mensch
Pages 211-226

Public Space and Embodiment

Hannah Arendt’s notion of public space is one of her most fruitful, yet frustrating concepts. Having employed it to analyze political freedom, she claims that such space has largely disappeared in the modern world. In what follows, I am going to argue that this pessimistic assessment follows from Arendt’s exclusion of labor and work from the public realm. Against Arendt’s claim that such activities are essentially private, I shall argue that they, like action, manifest our embodied being-in-the-world. When we think of public space in terms of our embodied presence, it becomes a concept applicable to modern democratic politics.

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