Chapter

What Does It Mean to Think About Politics?

Mark Antaki

in Thinking in Dark Times

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print December 2009 | ISBN: 9780823230754
Published online March 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823235858 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5422/fso/9780823230754.003.0006
What Does It Mean to Think About Politics?

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This chapter reflects on the existential import of thinking about politics. It proposes that the existential import of thinking about politics is a double confrontation with the nothing. In short: for Arendt, politics is the relating of human beings to one another around the space of the world—the empty center of the polis—and hence a confrontation with the nothing. Thinking itself is engaging in the activity of dissolving, and—particularly in modern times—a dwelling in the gap between past and future, and hence itself a confrontation with the nothing. Thinking about politics carries with it this double negative, which gives it its meaning, or existential import. The chapter concludes with the suggestion that the beginnings of an answer to the question of the meaning of thinking about politics lead back to Kant and to the negativity that belongs to his thought: the refusal of absolutes tied to the embrace of the absolute.

Keywords: Hannah Arendt; politics; political thinking; Kant; negativity

Chapter.  3446 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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