Essay on hannah arendt

Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954

These statements, when taken at face value-and out of context-can make it look as though Arendt indeed intends to exclude truth from politics and sees them as mutually exclusive phenomena. However, in the context of the essay on Lessing, by truth Arendt means something very specific-Truth with a capital "T," a claim to an absolute representation, and the only right one, of how things are or should be in the realm of human affairs.

As we argue in this paper, the fact that Arendt highlights the dangers of an absolute "Truth" for politics does not mean that, for her, political actors have a license to lie or that there is no place for any kind of truth or truthfulness in the political realm. Firstly, it has been pointed out in previous scholarship that Arendt asserts the importance of at least one kind of truth for politics, namely, the "truth of facts. Arendt's emphasis on the importance of acknowledging and respecting facts has been widely discussed in the literature see, for example, Zerilli , Herzog , Phillips , D'Entreves , and Canovan Secondly-and this is what the present paper is primarily concerned with- while suggesting that in the political realm there is no place for the "Truth" in the singular, Arendt embraces the notion of truthfulness.

National Association of Scholars - Hannah Arendt, Between Future and Past by Edward R. Dougherty

As we argue in this paper, for Arendt, the truthfulness of political actors is essential for the possibility of politics. In the political realm, truthfulness represents more than just a willingness to recognize and respect facts-for politics to be possible, the recognition of facts by political actors is necessary, but not sufficient. Arendt was not a doomsayer. To counter her warnings about political dangers, she elaborated a detailed conception of the dignity of politics. Because of our natality, our capacity to act, we can always begin something new.

Hannah Arendt’s Political Thought

The deepest theme in Arendt is the need to take responsibility for our political lives. She warned against being seduced by nihilism, cynicism or indifference.

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She was bold in her description of the lying, deception, self-deception, image-making and the attempt of those in power to destroy the very distinction between truth and falsehood. Her defense of the dignity of politics provides a critical standard for judging the situation many of us find ourselves in today, where the opportunity to participate, to act in concert and to engage in genuine debate with our peers is being diminished. We must resist the temptation to opt out of politics and to assume that nothing can be done in face of all the current ugliness, deception and corruption.

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