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Ethics and human relationality: between Arendt's accounts of morality.

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>05/2007
<mark>Journal</mark>HannahArendt.net - Journal for Political Thinking
Issue number3
Number of pages14
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English


"Zoon politikon: as if there were something political in the person which belongs to h/er essence. But this is exactly wrong: the human being is apolitical. Politics originates in-between human beings, that is precisely outside the individual. Therefore there is no strictly political substance. Politics originates in-between and establishes itself in terms of relations." - Hannah Arendt

This paper considers a short quotation from near the beginnings of Arendt's Denktagebuch, dated to August 1950. This epigrammatic formulation presages Arendt's whole political theory, by situating the political outside of the individual, in-between a plurality of human beings. My concern, however, is not with politics as such. Instead, I ask: cannot what Arendt says of politics be said with equal truth of morality? To make some attempt upon this vast question, I examine Arendt's own more tentative explorations of the moral sphere, including the importance she attaches to judgment - in particular, our judgment of the company we might keep and the exemplars we should follow.