Chapter

Thinking Big in Dark Times

Drucilla Cornell

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/9780823230754.003.0021
Thinking Big in Dark Times

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At the heart of Arendt's work is her conviction that the European tradition of moral thought has crumbled, not because of the failure of human beings to live up to their standards, or even because of philosophical inadequacy. Rather, the tradition of human dignity has succumbed to the brutal reality of the 20th century, a reality that has undone the tradition by confronting us with acts and behavior that simply fall outside or beyond the reach of these measures or ideals. This chapter explores Arendt's judgment of modern European ideals. To do so it offers two examples of the role of moral and ethical ideals from the new South Africa. The first is the connection between the moral ideal of dignity, as it has been established as the Grundnorm of the entire South African Constitution. The second example is the South African Constitution's commitment of the current South African Constitutional Court to the ideal of humanity as this both demands and promotes a notion of cosmopolitan right.

Keywords: Hannah Arendt; moral thought; South African Constitution; dignity; humanity; South Africa; ethics

Chapter.  3358 words. 

Subjects: Social and Political Philosophy

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