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Title: Being political and the reconstruction of public discourse : Hannah Arendt on experience, history and the spectator
Author: Leader, Jonathan W.
ISNI:       0000 0004 2703 3814
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2010
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This study analyses a number of Hannah Arendt’s books and essays written over four decades and suggests that a common thread can be detected that links together the different stages of her thought. The need to do this follows from having to treat with caution Arendt’s own judgement that in the mid-1930s her thinking changed when she became political. In relation to writings she produced throughout her life, what can be seen is that she was actually preoccupied by one and the same question, namely, what it means to be with other people, she just looked for answers in different places and used different methods. The study shows how in her dissertation on Saint Augustine’s treatment of love and such early published pieces as ‘The Enlightenment and the Jewish Question’ and her commentary on Rilke’s Duino Elegies, Arendt was already challenging Heidegger’s ontology, in Being and Time, of ‘being-with-one-another’. Her thinking at this time was purely empirical though, dependent upon interpretations of history alone. Her later work, The Origins of Totalitarianism and The Human Condition, for instance, reveal that Arendt’s political conversion amounted to the realisation that ontology and history are as necessary to each other as Kant’s concepts and intuitions. Her defence of plurality therefore, represented both a reaction to the evils of totalitarianism on the grounds that it is an anti-political form of government, and a revised challenge to Heidegger’s assessment of das Man on his own terms. In addition though, Arendt’s depiction of public space and public discourse, suggested that choosing to be with others politically, is an antidote to the solitude of the individual engendered by mass society.
Supervisor: Roemer, Nils ; Brinkmann, Tobias ; Reiter, Andrea ; Owen, David Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: B Philosophy (General) ; JC Political theory ; D731 World War II