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The Problem Of Judging In Hannah Arendt's Political Thought

Posted on:2008-03-05Degree:DoctorType:Dissertation
Country:ChinaCandidate:L Y ChenFull Text:PDF
GTID:1116360242972975Subject:Foreign philosophy
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The meditations upon the problem of judging ran through Hannah Arendt's life of political thinking. They aim at dual goals, on the one hand is to establish the concept of action as the foundation in her political thought, on the other hand is to offer the basic of human's living together. After her review of the phenomena brought about by the totalitarian regimes, Arendt asserted that the tradition of western thought had collapsed thoroughly along with the appearing of all the ethical, moral and political confusions. The breakdown of tradition means that human action has lost its direction, and that human mind was wandering in the dark. This dilemma is the most radical challenge facing the present age. In Arendt's opinions, although the dark of our time had made human lose their directions, it brought the optimal opportunity for human to break away from blind faith and to judge by themselves. What judging looks for and ascertains is the principles of human action. Arendt considered the principles of human action as the spirit in Montesquieu's The Spirit of the Laws, which has inseparable connections with mores and customs of the community. It's the source of political life. In their concerted actions, actors both reveal and are affected by these principles. In the revelation of these principles lies the public happiness, which solely belongs to political life, and is the true embodiment of human freedom. Arendt's political theory is a glorification of political freedom and public happiness.There were two stages in Arendt's analysis of judging. In the first stage, Arendt considered judging as a special faculty of actors. Through her phenomenological interpretation of the world of appearance, Arendt restored opinion and common sense's status as the groundwork of public space. Meanwhile, by way of Heidegger's phenomenological interpretation of Aristotle's concept of phronesis, Arendt connects opinion with the activities of understanding and judging in politics. Judging arises from the existential conditions of human's being together, among which the most important is the fact that everyone has his special place in the world. In order to shape an opinion, one must try to get rid of his private idiosyncrasy, and consider things from the other's perspective. According to this existential interpretation of opinion, Arendt criticized the scientism in contemporary political thoughts. According to Arendt's phenomenology, political realm is a public space, through which the principles of human action appear. Opinion-forming as judging saves the actors' principles by appraising their story, lest they wear away along with the human action.In contrast with the concept of political judgment of Marx Weber and Isaiah Berlin, Arendt's concept of judging as phronesis leads to a different direction. Based on their empirical understanding of politics, the former emphasizes the close connection between judgment and experience. While, based on the maintenance of community, the latter stresses the structure of judging itself and its relation with the reforming of the community's ethos.The Eichmann controversy advanced Arendt's thoughts on the problem of judging. Before the controversy, Arendt insisted that the concept of action had its advantage at facing the challenge of present time, since action and its principle arise directly from the darkness, which means it can break through the limits that modern science and its truth had imposed on politics. On the other side, the revealing character of action is sufficient to guarantee the opening of public space. But after the controversy Arendt realized that people living together didn't mean the existence of community. The life of mind has more functions than questing for scientific truth, and judging is more than the phronesis of actors in political space.The Life of the Mind continued Arendt's critique of the tradition of western political philosophy. In this book, Arendt discussed the mental activities' louses in the world of appearance. She found that though thinking was concealed from the world of appearance, it could make the most dazzling appearance under the condition of all-pervading unthoughtfulness. Similarly, though willing was considered as the dim impulsion in human mind, it expresses the fundamental freedom seen from the public space. By this token, the analysis of judging that Arendt had meant to make in the book should have been fastened on judging's role between the life of mind and public life. Because of Arendt's sudden death, this important part had not been written. There was only her unfinished lectures on the political philosophy of Kant.In the lectures which aimed at exploring Kant's political philosophy, it was clear that Arendt based her analysis of judging on the studying of the judgment of taste in Critique of Judgment. This represented the second stage of her thought on the problem of judging. She pointed out that Critique of Judgment had illuminated the following characters of judging. Firstly, it was man in his plurality, and not man in his singularity or as the intellectual being, that was studied in the third critique, which means judging is interrelated with the being together of human. Secondly, it shown clearly that judging dealt with concrete appearance, but not the general truth. So judging is connected with the factual existence of human. Thirdly, Kant based the judgment of taste on sensus sommunis, and he emphasized the communicability of it. All these confirm Arendt's view that judging is a political ability of human. Fourthly, seen from the thesis Kant had written on the French Revolution, the political significance of the clash between the perspectives of actor and spectator is revealed. Fifthly, the purity and concreteness of the feeling of pleasure in the judgment of taste make it clear that human can transcend his private condition and enjoy freedom in the public life.In her lectures, Arendt deliberately singled out the divarication between philosophy of history and political philosophy, which was unclear in Kant. By way of the three perspectives Kant had made in his analysis of man, namely humankind, man in his singularity and men in their plurality, Arendt pointed out, it is impossible for Kant to restrain political philosophy by his philosophy of history. Since Kant's respect for human dignity was uncompatible with the idea of history progress. Arendt considered the problem of judging from the abovementioned divarication for the purpose of refuting Hegel's view that the world history is the ultimate judge of history. Arendt maintained that historian was the judge of history for ever.Because of Arendt's sudden death, her reflections on the problem of judging was fragmental. One important pity was that she had not explained the relation between the judgment of taste and the political judgment. This is the reason why so many scholars had mistaken her political thoughts as the aestheticization of politics. I contrast Arendt's thoughts on judging with the ideas of aesthetic education sprang from Schiller. Arendt's concept of reality showed that her concept of judging was directed by political freedom and our sense of the real.Therefore, judging is a worldly activity. It reveals its great significance in Arendt's study of contemporary political events. In her opinion, the world is the web of relationships in which man lives concretely. The principles enacted actions and the ethical foundation of acting are the love for this world. Like acting, judging reconstructs this meaningful world endlessly. Principles like freedom, courage and glory can only be grasped by judging, they are beyond the reach of reason. So there is some connections between judging and rhetoric.Arendt's points on judging had thrown light on the age-old puzzle, i.e. the dilemma between politics and morality. According to the nature of public space, Arendt refused the rights of morals in politics. Besides, thanks to the unpleasing exhibition of morality in the political tragedy of twentieth century, Arendt suggested to establish a new morality based on politics itself. This new morality takes promise and forgivness as its basic principles.Our realization of judging as the constructive factor of political life demands our attention of the cultivation of political opinions. Arendt claimed that judiciary and institutions of higher learning had played a very important role in preserving and passing fact and truth, which constructed the steady basis of politics. What's the most important is that history, as the judging of historian, has its political function in teaching acceptance of things as they are. Out of this acceptance, which can also be called truthfulness, arises the faculty of judging. In the truthful acceptance and the voluntary judging, the ethos and common sense of community have reached their rebirth. And this is the responsibility citizens have for their community.The connections between judging and politics have also attracted the attentions of some contemporary political scholars. They analyze the nature of politics through the concepts of aesthetic judgment in Wittgenstein and Foucault. In contrast with Arendt, their conclusions are always led to a constructivism of politics.
Keywords/Search Tags:judging, phronesis, the judgment of taste, enlarged mentality, historic narrative
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