Degree Year

2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department

Politics

Advisor(s)

Harlan Wilson
Sonia Kruks

Keywords

Political theory, Arendt, Heidegger, Action, Political action, Phenomenology, YMCMB, The Human Condition, Being and Time

Abstract

In the first section, I begin with an account of action within the context of the vita activa as laid out by Arendt in The Human Condition. I then proceed to identify some of the more perplexing features of her account, and suggest that they are confounding enough to throw the coherency of what Arendt is saying into question. Taking my cue from Hanna Pitkin, I then argue that we can understand action as activity informed by thinking, by drawing upon Arendt's posthumously published work The Life of the Mind. This account, however, though illuminating with regard to some aspects of political action, will be shown to possess serious deficiencies in others. Thus, I will proceed in section two to explicate Heidegger's conception of "worldhood," and will demonstrate that Arendt's conception of "the world of appearances" in The Life of the Mind is essentially derivative of this account. I will then go on in section three to show that Arendt's conception of the "world" in The Human Condition is fundamentally a critique of Heidegger's account, and that far from being derivative, Arendt actually exposes major deficiencies in Heidegger's notion of worldhood. I will then conclude by giving an account of action as taking responsibility for the world, with the world understood as a space for action and freedom.

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