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They offer a fine general introduction as well as helpful specific prefaces to each section.Their own remarks are intelligent, informed, thoughtful, and establish a continuity of themes between sections while sharpening debate in them Many of the essays are so good and have attained such considerable notoriety that there will be a ready audience for the book."--J.
This volume treats Arendt's work as an imperfect, somewhat time-bound but still invaluable resource for challenging some of our most tenacious prejudices about what politics is and how to study it.
The following eminent Arendt scholars have contributed chapters to this book: Ronald Beiner, Margaret Canovan, Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, Seyla Benhabib, Jurgen Habermas, Hanna Pitkin, and Sheldon Wolin."In many ways the editors have done exemplary work.
Despite such thematic diversity, virtually all the contributors have made an effort to build bridges between interest-driven politics and Arendt's Hellenic/existential politics.
Although some are quite critical of the way Arendt develops her theory, most sympathize with her project of rescuing politics from both the foreshortening glance of the philosopher and its assimilation to social and biological processes.
In the early 1920s she studied with Germany’s most important philosophers and theologians, including Husserl, Heidegger, Jaspers and Bultmann.
With the ominous growth of the Nazis and their rabid antisemitism, Arendt agreed to help her Zionist friends by doing research at the Berlin state library on Nazi antisemitic propaganda.She was deeply suspicious of theorising and speculation that lose contact with real experience. Arendt was drawn to Machiavelli’s appeal to the goddess Fortuna (roughly translated as “luck”, “chance”, “contingency”). Unlike her close friend, Walter Benjamin, who always seemed to experience bad luck and finally committed suicide, Arendt’s Fortuna was favourable at crucial moments in her life.Born in 1906 in a German-Jewish secular family, she became an outstanding member of the gifted generation of German-Jewish intellectuals.But Arendt had the good fortune to secure employment with several Jewish and Zionist organisations – including Youth Aliyah – the organisation that sent endangered European Jewish youths to Palestine.Arendt’s living experience as a stateless refugee shaped her earliest thinking.She is an astute critic of the dangerous tendencies in contemporary life and she illuminates the potentialities for restoring the dignity of politics.This is why she is worth reading and rereading today. Arendt believed that all thinking should be grounded in and rooted in one’s experience.When Arendt speaks of “dark times” she is not exclusively referring to the horrors of twentieth-century totalitarianism.She says: “If it is the function of the public realm to throw light on the affairs of men by providing a space of appearances in which they can show in deed and word, for better or worse, who they are and what they can do, then darkness has come when this light is extinguished by ‘credibility gaps’ and ‘invisible government,’ by speech that does not disclose what is, but sweeps it under the carpet, by exhortations, moral and otherwise, that under the pretext of upholding old truths, degrade all truth in meaningless triviality.” It is hard to resist the conclusion that we are now living in dark times that are engulfing the entire world.Arendt was remarkably perceptive about some of the deepest problems, perplexities and dangerous tendencies in modern political life.Many of these have not disappeared; they have become more intense and more dangerous.