- Amor mundi: Hannah Arendt's political phenomenology of world
- Award date
- 9 September 2010
- Number of pages
- Amsterdam: F & N Eigen Beheer
- Document type
- PhD thesis
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Institute for Humanities Research (AIHR)
Politics is ‘concerned with the world as such and not with those who live in it’, Hannah Arendt once wrote. In her view, political thinking takes a Gestaltswitch from a focus on Man, social concerns and collective identities, to one on the world. Not just plain hatred of the world, Contemptus Mundi, but also love of Man, Amor Hominis, can inflict harm and catastrophes in politics, she thought. Without our continued care for the world, Amor Mundi, through speech, action, storytelling and judgment, it slowly ceases being a space of freedom and a place in which human beings can be at home. The ethos of Amor Mundi is the basis of Arendt’s non-sentimental, worldly humanism. That human dignity consists in worldliness, is one of the phenomenological paradoxes in which Arendt’s work abounds.
In this dissertation, I defend an interpretation of Arendt’s work that integrates its various dimensions, such as political theory, philosophy, historiography, literary theory and her journalistic work, by elaborating and explicating her joining of hermeneutic-phenomenological sources and methods, on the one hand, and shared historical-political experiences, particularly the totalitarian experience, on the other hand. This explication focuses on the pivotal concepts of ‘world’ and ‘worldliness’. My thesis is that Arendt’s work contains a mostly implicit but strong and convincing outline of an as yet not elucidated hermeneutic phenomenology of the political, consisting in concrete analyses of political-historical experiences, aiming at understanding the meaning of these experiences. This perspective implies both a politicization of hermeneutic phenomenology, and the development of a hermeneutic-phenomenological perspective within political theory.
- Research conducted at: Universiteit van Amsterdam
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