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From actor to spectator: Hannah Arendt's 'two theories' of political judgment.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2000
<mark>Journal</mark>Philosophy and Social Criticism
Issue number2
Volume26
Number of pages27
Pages (from-to)1-27
Publication StatusPublished
<mark>Original language</mark>English

Abstract

The question of judgment has become one of the central problems in recent social, political and ethical thought. This paper explores Hannah Arendt's decisive contribution to this debate by attempting to reconstruct analytically two distinctive perspectives on judgment from the corpus of her writings. By exploring her relation to Aristotelian and Kantian sources, and by uncovering debts and parallels to key thinkers such as Benjamin and Heidegger, it is argued that Arendt's work pinpoints the key antinomy within political judgment itself, that between the viewpoints of the political actor and the political spectator. The paper concludes by highlighting some lacunae and difficulties in the development of Arendt's account, difficulties that set challenges for those theorists (such as Seyla Benhabib and Alessandro Ferrara) who wish to appropriate and extend Arendt's contribution into the field of contemporary critical theory.