The Origin of the PoliticalHannah Arendt or Simone Weil?

The Origin of the PoliticalHannah Arendt or Simone Weil?

Roberto Esposito

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9780823276264

Publisher: Fordham University Press

Abstract

This book explores the conceptual trajectories of two of the twentieth century's most vital thinkers of the political: Hannah Arendt and Simone Weil. Taking Homer's Iliad as the common origin and point of departure for our understanding of Western philosophical and political traditions, the book examines the foundational relation between war and the political. Drawing actively and extensively on Arendt's and Weil's voluminous writings, but also sparring with thinkers from Marx to Heidegger, the book traverses the relation between polemos and polis, between Greece, Rome, God, force, technicity, evil, and the extension of the Christian imperial tradition, while at the same time delineating the conceptual and hermeneutic ground for the development of the notion and practice of “the impolitical.” Within the book, Arendt and Weil emerge “in the inverse of the other's thought, in the shadow of the other's light,” to “think what the thought of the other excludes not as something that is foreign, but rather as something that appears unthinkable and, for that very reason, remains to be thought.” Moving slowly toward their conceptualizations of love and heroism, the book unravels the West's illusory metaphysical dream of peace, obliging us to reevaluate ceaselessly what it means to be responsible in the wake of past and contemporary forms of war.