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Thinking in Dark TimesHannah Arendt on Ethics and Politics$
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Roger Berkowitz, Jeffrey Katz, and Thomas Keenan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780823230754

Published to Fordham Scholarship Online: March 2011

DOI: 10.5422/fso/9780823230754.001.0001

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What Does It Mean to Think About Politics?

What Does It Mean to Think About Politics?

(p.63) What Does It Mean to Think About Politics?
Thinking in Dark Times

Mark Antaki

Fordham University Press

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

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