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41. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Richard H. King Margaret Canovan and Hannah Arendt
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Professor Margaret Canovan wrote two studies of the work of German-Jewish émigré political theorist, Hannah Arendt (1906-75). The first, The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt, appeared in 1974, while Hannah Arendt: A Reinterpretation of Her Political Thought was published in 1992. Both were intended for the Anglophone world, especially the US and Great Britain, although Arendt’s reception was more favorable in America where she settled in 1941 than in the UK. An historian of political thought at Keele University, UK, Canovan was ideal to bring Arendt to a general academic audience not to aim at a highly specialized readership deeply grounded in German thought. Though Canovan emphasized the conservative dimensions of Arendt’s thought, her conclusion was, finally, that Arendt’s political thought was a form of modern “republicanism” not an argument for inherited political traditions or a plea for New Left radicalism. It was a plea for pluralism, as it were.
42. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Verónica Zebadúa-Yáñez ‘But I am a rebel after all!’ The Politics of Marginality in Hannah Arendt’s Life of Rahel
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In this essay, I offer an interpretation of Arendt’s biography of the Jewish-German salonnière, Rahel Varnhagen: The Life of a Jewess (1957). Treating the book as a work of political theory, I develop two arguments: First, I contend that Arendt’s study lays the grounds for a political epistemology of marginality and exclusion, making her a standpoint theorist avant la lettre. Second, I argue that Arendt’s book gives us an account of the process of ‘becoming political.’ This helps complement, and to a degree counter, her insistence in more widely read books that political freedom is an exclusively plural experience in the public realm. This insistence sidelines the role played by individual political consciousness in the decision to engage in action, as well as the necessary interaction between the private and the public spheres in becoming a political subject. Arendt’s biography suggests that becoming political can be facilitated by a solidary, and private encounter with the excluded other.
43. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Alex Cain Arendt’s Contradictions: Eichmann in Jerusalem in the Perspective of Arendt’s Practice of Socratic Dialogue
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Commentators often note that there are contradictions, or at least inconsistencies, in Arendt’s work. On the one hand, Arendt is accused of theoretical inconsistencies, insofar as she makes claims in her later work that seem incompatible with claims she made earlier. On the other hand, Arendt has been accused of contradicting herself morally, with some commentators claiming that Arendt should not have written Eichmann in Jerusalem the way she wrote it. Both views place the treatment of the 1961 Eichmann trial at the center of Arendt’s thought, and cast it as representing a radical shift from Arendt’s earlier work. This article shows that both views fail to acknowledge the importance of what I call the “archetype of non-contradiction” in Arendt’s work. I argue that, viewed in perspective, her treatment of the Eichmann trial is simply another instance of Arendt attempting to follow the archetype of non-contradiction, practicing tentative and fluid thinking, and maintaining her friendship with herself.
44. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Katherine Davies The Architecture of Appearance: Arendt’s Feminism and Guatemala’s Private City
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Ciudad Cayalá in Guatemala brands itself as the country’s first private city. I turn to Hannah Arendt to show how and why Cayalá does not and cannot provide the space of appearance she argues is needed to support the possibility of political action. I show how Arendt provides two apparently distinct phenomenological accounts in The Human Condition—one historically-oriented and the other politically-oriented—that articulate how Cayalá fails in its aspiration to privatize the political. Yet the apparent divergence between her accounts raises concern about her relevance for liberatory feminist projects. To demonstrate how and why Arendt’s political phenomenology is aligned with certain feminist aims, I also generate a Cayaláian reading of Arendt to demonstrate the coherence of her two phenomenological accounts through interpreting her thinking by way of Cayalá’s architecture. This article enacts a dialogue between Arendt and Cayalá, mediated by feminist and architectural theory, concerning why efforts toward the privatization of cities will fail.
45. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Gisli Vogler Enriching Responsiveness to Complicity through a Disposition towards World-in-Formation
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This article contributes to debates on complicity in injustice and violence by deepening the recent efforts to map out an ethics of responsiveness to complicity. The ethics of responsiveness aims to increase the affective engagement of people who disproportionately benefit from domination, exploitation, and exclusion, with the impact of their complicity on others. It articulates different strategies for tackling the dispositions that help the privileged disavow complicity. To extend the responsiveness approach, this article builds on Hannah Arendt’s theorisation of the relationship between politics, reality, and responsibility. A turn to Arendt helps us respond to the political problem of an erosion of the frameworks of judgement and action across society that enable critical engagement with complicity. I argue that the problem adds a burden on the privileged to strengthen and protect the institutions and processes that allow us to come to terms with reality together by developing a disposition towards ‘world-in-formation.’
46. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Iloe Ariss Friendship and Metaphor: Thinking and Writing in Hannah Arendt’s Denktagebuch and Letters
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In this paper, I identify and distinguish different modes of thinking at work in Hannah Arendt’s Denktagebuch and letters. In the Denktagebuch, her thinking is dialogical, as she engages with herself in a dialogue of thought, while her writing is a product of poetic thinking. In the letters, her dialogical thinking is not only with herself, but with friends and correspondents, and poetic thinking takes the form of the material letter itself. Arendt engages in a dialogue of thought both with herself, who is a friend, and her correspondents, who are also friends. Arendt’s personal writings, that is, her letters and her Denktagebuch reveal a close relationship between private, solitary thinking, and thinking and writing that appear in public.
47. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Samuel Piccolo Coming into the Country: An Arendtian Analysis of Nationalism and Narrative
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This article is about nationalism from an unlikely perspective: Hannah Arendt. Though Arendt is famously no supporter of nationalism, I argue that her writing on narrative provides an illuminative way of examining the phenomenon. In the first section, I build upon Arendt’s narrative theory—and Leah Bradshaw’s analysis of it—to develop a distinction between narratively true stories and false ones, or reveries. I argue that while Arendt’s work on the matter often pertain to the tales of individuals, the thought is transferable to the stories of nations. In the latter half of the paper, I turn these two questions on to instances of contemporary nationalism. Section two is on England, and section three is on Israel. I do not suggest that my conclusion about these case studies are definitive, but I do hope that their inclusion in this paper helps to demonstrate how Arendt’s philosophic analysis could be turned on the world.
48. Arendt Studies: Volume > 4
Joe Larios Arendt, Levinas, and the Justification of Violence
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By bringing the work of Arendt and Levinas together, this paper hopes to show a possible avenue for addressing the lack of a heteronomous object guiding the public realm in Arendt (which is connected to her rejection of the social). This is first clarified with reference to the lack of a clear criterion for the deployment of violence as found in On Violence and proceeds to show how a criterion can be excavated from her comments elsewhere and clarified through a comparison with the thought of Levinas in which there is a heteronomous factor guiding action—the Other. What is uncovered is a similar framework in which the preservation of the world, as the space of appearances, becomes that which justifies actions. Moreover, it is argued that the social can become an object of concern precisely because of the changed nature of this world owing to modern technology.
49. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Lyndsey Stonebridge The Flight’s Lost Moment
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The failure of post-war institutions to fully grasp the depth and permanence of the placeless condition in the twentieth-century is at least in part responsible for the re-emergence of camps, barbed wire, sunken boats, and separated children in our own. As Seyla Benhabib demonstrates brilliantly, none of key intellectual exiles at the center of her book believed that political thought could simply accommodate the age of the refugee: the terms under which it operated had to shift with the moving world. I argue that there is an important kind of border poetics at work in these accounts of exile, migration and statelessness and within Benhabib’s analysis of the challenges that the placeless condition presents to the institutions of law and democracy today. This is no-coincidence. The modern history of placelessness required—and requires—a political imagination, and a language, that we are yet to fully appreciate or articulate. The wager of Benhabib’s book is how we might cultivate a poetics of exile which relinquishes claims to sweeping universalism whilst imagining the new forms we so urgently need to keep political life open to the differences and otherness that is its lifeblood.
50. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Martin Shuster On Ever-Growing Numbers of Human Refuse Heaps and the Scope of History
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This is a response to Seyla Benhabib’s Exile, Stateless, and Migration. I focus on Benhabib’s engagement with Arendt and her assessment of stateless persons in addition to what such a discussion suggests for the scope of our historical inquiry.
51. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
David Ingram Human Rights, Legalism, and the Parodox of Pluralism: Some Comments on Benhabib’s Exile, Statelessness and Migration
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This article examines the theoretical pathways connecting Benhabib’s thoughts on ethical normativity, human rights, legality, democracy, liberalism, pluralism, and the tragedy of the political. It endorses Benhabib’s dialectical treatment of these paradoxical political tropes but notes a possible unresolved tension in her discussion of the ambiguous moral and legal nature of human rights. I propose a pluralist approach to the moral grounding of legal human rights that might be at odds with Benhabib’s approach.
52. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Claire Elise Katz Revisiting the Question of Israel: A Response to Seyla Benhabib
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In her chapter on Judith Butler’s Parting Ways, Seyla Benhabib revisits not only Levinas’s statements on Israel but also Butler’s response to them. Several of Levinas’s statements on the State of Israel were made either before the state came into existence or just as it was forming. And several of Levinas’s statements about the hostility that Israel faces were made not about the Palestinian but about the threats to Israel from its neighboring Arab states. In this essay, I revisit those statements and Butler’s response, in order to place them in their proper context. My aim is to ask what we can learn by revisiting these comments when placed in their original context as opposed to thinking of them as comments about Israel in its more contemporary struggles.
53. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Arie M. Dubnov The Culture of Political Despair: Meditation on Seyla Benhabib’s Weimar Syndrome and the Pitfalls of Exile Plaudit
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Reflections on Seyla Benhabib’s a. Exile, Statelessness, and Migration: Playing Chess with History from Hannah Arendt to Isaiah Berlin. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2018.
54. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Seyla Benhabib The Weimar Syndrome, Epistemologies of Exile, and Jewish Identities: Response to my Critics
55. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Hannes Bajohr Arendt Corrections: Judith Shklar’s Critique of Hannah Arendt
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Judith Shklar wrote about Hannah Arendt throughout her career. However, her nuanced readings are often ignored by scholars who prefer to depict both philosophers as stark counter-images. In this paper, I offer a more complex comparison on the basis of all of Shklar’s writings about Arendt. Shklar’s critique is grounded in what she sees as the Romantic strand in Arendt’s thought, which she identifies with a metaphysical, elitist, and aestheticizing stance towards politics, a distaste for modernity, and a nostalgia for Greek antiquity. For Shklar, this position comes to the fore both in what she believes to be Arendt’s purely therapeutic notion of revolution as well as the rejection of her own Jewish identity. Nevertheless, Shklar also admired Arendt’s insights about exile and her appreciation of Kant. Through her sustained critique of Arendt, Shklar developed her own conception of a realist, rights-affirming, and anti-metaphysical liberalism.
56. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Bridget Allan Arendt and Beauvoir on the Failures of Political Judgment in Praxis
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In this article, I bring together Hannah Arendt’s and Simone de Beauvoir’s respective theories of political judgment to evaluate the problems that arise from their accounts of judgment in praxis. To do so, I compare Arendt’s Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil on Adolf Eichmann’s trial in Israel and Beauvoir’s “An Eye for an Eye” on Robert Brasillach’s trial in France. In approaching the dilemmas of judgment in theory, both share a commitment to preserving freedom by virtue of our human plurality. In practice, however, both respectively demand the death penalty for Eichmann and Brasillach. I identify three distinct failures of political judgment in praxis: from the accused, the courts, and Arendt and Beauvoir, respectively. I contend that Arendt and Beauvoir fail to appropriately judge Eichmann and Brasillach by arguing for their execution, because it constitutes a form of political violence that undermines their theoretical accounts of judgment.
57. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
James Risser The Task of Understanding in Arendt and Gadamer
58. Arendt Studies: Volume > 5
Kyu-hyun Jo Violence as an Expression of Power: A Habermasian Reconfiguration of the Arendtian Relationship Between Violence and Power
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Hannah Arendt’s conception of violence in On Violence ignores cases in which violence becomes an expression of power. Through my discussion of a government’s use of violence to control criminal violence and the Algerian Revolution, I argue that an Arendtian communicative relationship between power and violence is unrealistic; a decision to use violence can arise within a government bureaucracy or between an anti-colonial group and their supporters, but not between a colonial oppressor and the oppressed. The decision to use violence is a product of power and cannot actually expect a literal public support. Since the decision arises from the power an entity has over others and the need to maintain power, it is unrealistic for power to rule absolutely or for violence to disappear because there is absolute power. Arendt’s central claim is insufficient because it does not consider how using violence is a decision arising from power.