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Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics

1997

Craig Calhoun and John McGowan, editors
Afterword by Martin Jay

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Eminent contributors consider what Hannah Arendt means in today’s public debates.

This volume brings leading figures in philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary theory into a dialogue about Arendt’s work and its significance for today’s fractious identity politics, public ethics, and civic life.

Contributors: Richard Bernstein, Anthony Cascardi, Susan Bickford, Kim Curtis, Lisa Disch, Nancy Fraser, Martin Jay, Steven Leonard, Kirstie McClure, Dana Villa, and Eli Zaretsky.

Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics is in my view a significant contribution to the remarkably wide-ranging set of conversations about Arendt’s work that keeps developing among overlapping as well as discontinuous circles.

Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, author of Transforming Knowledge

Is politics really nothing more than power relations, competing interests and claims for recognition, conflicting assertions of “simple” truths? No thinker has argued more passionately against this narrow view than Hannah Arendt, and no one has more to say to those who bring questions of meaning, identity, value, and transcendence to our impoverished public life. This volume brings leading figures in philosophy, political theory, intellectual history, and literary theory into a dialogue about Arendt’s work and its significance for today’s fractious identity politics, public ethics, and civic life.

For each essay—on the fate of politics in a postmodern, post-Marxist era; on the connection of nonfoundationalist ethics and epistemology to democracy; on the conditions conducive to a vital public sphere; on the recalcitrant problems of violence and evil—the volume includes extended responses, and a concluding essay by Martin Jay responding to all the others. Ranging from feminism to aesthetics to the discourse of democracy, the essays explore how an encounter with Arendt reconfigures, disrupts, and revitalizes what passes for public debate in our day. Together they forcefully demonstrate the power of Arendt’s work as a splendid provocation and a living resource.

Contributors: Richard Bernstein, New School; Anthony Cascardi, U of California, Berkeley; Susan Bickford, U of North Carolina; Kim Curtis, Duke U; Lisa Disch, U of Minnesota; Nancy Fraser, New School; Martin Jay; U of California, Berkeley, Steven Leonard, U of North Carolina; Kirstie McClure, Johns Hopkins U; Dana Villa, Amherst College; and Eli Zaretsky, U of Missouri.

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Craig Calhoun is professor and chair of sociology at New York University. John McGowan is professor of English and comparative literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

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This is an excellent collection of essays.

Ethics

Hannah Arendt and the Meaning of Politics is in my view a significant contribution to the remarkably wide-ranging set of conversations about Arendt’s work that keeps developing among overlapping as well as discontinuous circles.

Elizabeth Kamarck Minnich, author of Transforming Knowledge

This anthology brings together a very distinguished and broadly interdisciplinary group of scholars who engage an intriguing and important set of questions bearing on the interpretation of Arendt’s work and its continuing relevance to political theory, philosophy, and the understanding of politics more generally.

Morris B. Kaplan, author of Sexual Justice: Democratic Citizenship and the Politics of Desire