The Experience of Action

Patchen Markell

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:
The Experience of Action

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This chapter addresses the question of whether there is a way to engage the question of democratic citizenship while refusing the invitation to subordinate political activity to the disposing power of expert thought. It explores this possibility with the help of Arendt's On Revolution, and in particular by attending to some of her characterizations of the American revolutionaries' experiences of, and in, political action. These characterizations throw a distinctive light both on the question of what threatens, and what might help sustain, the activity of democratic citizenship, and on the question of the relations among political activity, thinking, and theory. They do so not only in virtue of what they say about the American revolutionaries, but also by exemplifying the generatively idiosyncratic way Arendt uses the fraught idea of “experience.” It begins with some general words about On Revolution and its context.

Keywords: Hannah Arendt; On Revolution; political activity; democratic citizenship

Chapter.  3814 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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