The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt

By Michael G. Gottsegen

Subjects: Political Philosophy
Paperback : 9780791417300, 311 pages, December 1993
Hardcover : 9780791417294, 311 pages, December 1993

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Table of contents



List of Abbreviations


Part One. The Original Formulation

1. Action and Human Existence

The Contours of Action
The Polarities of Human Existence
Uniqueness and Uniformity
Lasting and Passing
Freedom and Necessity
Freedom: A Closer Look
Necessity: Biological and Rational
Willing: The Textual Evidence
Some Implications
Public and Private: Spaces and Objects
A Communal Space
On the Public Character of Public Objects
The Norms of Public Action
Humanitas and Public Discourse

Part Two. Beyond World Alienation


2. Consitituting a Worldly Depth

The Ethos of Worldliness
Insuring the Primacy of the Origin
Of Storytelling and the Roots of Cultural Self-Understanding
Of Culture and Cultural Mediation
Of Civics and Education
The Roman Roots of Authority
On Revolution: A Moment of Synthesis
Creating a New Tradition Out of a Revolutionary Moment

3. The Rectification of the Action-Ideal: Judgment, Common Sense, and a New Logos of Politics

Toward Judgment
On the Relationship of Judgment to Common Sense: The Genealogy of a Conception
The Early Period
The Middle Period
Judgment and The Human Condition
Actor-Spectator Relations: A Path Untaken
On Revolution and Authority
The Maturation of a Conception
"The Crisis in Culture"
"Truth and Politics"
Thinking: Judging, and Common Sense
The Kant Lectures and Their Significance
Mediating Differences of Taste: The Judging Spectator and the Sensus Communis
A Critical Distance
Between Judgment and the Sensus Communis: The Role of Concepts and Examples
From the Judging Spectator to the Judging Actor
Genius and Taste
The Specificity of Action Oriented Judgment
In a Deliberative Space
Judgment, Action and the Will: An Interlude
A New Logos of Politics
The Action Ideal as Criterion: Does the New Logos Measure Up?
Beyond the New Logos: A Critique





By turns radical and conservative, Hannah Arendt's work confounds the usual categories and defies conventional expectations. This book provides a comprehensive analytical and developmental study of the whole of Arendt's mature political philosophy, focusing especially on the development of her works—The Human Condition, Between Past and Future, On Revolution, the Life of the Mind, and Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy—and explores her contributions to democratic theory and to contemporary postmodern and neo-Kantian political philosophy.

Gottsegen argues that Arendt was primarily a theorist of political action, and that, at the heart of her thought, a new conception of political action emerges. And he shows how, to that end, Arendt endeavored to articulate in her major works a new conception of political action and participatory democracy that, together, might make politics a medium of human dignity, self-realization, and transcendence.

Michael G. Gottsegen is a former Assistant Professor of Political Science at Columbia University and Columbia University Presidential Fellow. He is presently at work on a study of postmodernism and liberalism.


"The most impressive feature of Gottsegen's book is his success in identifying the conceptual and political logic that links Arendt's major works. His interpretation of Arendt's political thought represents a critical reconstruction of its strengths and weaknesses, not just a descriptive account of her major themes and difficulties. Rather than merely defend her against her critics, Gottsegen explores the ways in which Arendt herself grappled with the difficulties raised by her ideas.

"Numerous academic books and articles are starting to appear about Arendt. This book will rank among the best." — Bernard Yack, University of Wisconsin, Madison