Hannah Arendt and political thought: the art of distinguishing and relating concepts


  • André Duarte


Arendt. Political thinking. Conceptual distinctions. Rupture of tradition.


The text discusses Arendt’s peculiar political thought, whose originality and independence concerning classic ideological criteria such as right and left frequently arises perplexities amongst her readers. This situation is aggravated by the fact that Arendt offers no explanation concerning the methodological procedures that orient her political thought. My hypothesis is that the main characteristic of Arendt’s political thinking lies in its capacity of both distinguishing and relating the distinguished concepts, an interpretation that counters current critical readings that stress Arendt’s supposedly rigid and contemporarily unattainable concepts. Against those criticisms, I argue that by facing the rupture of tradition Arendt exercised a “thinking without banisters” which was neither dialectical nor squematic, a thinking that proceeded by simultaneously distinguishing and relating concepts, so that their own intelligibility depends on their own confrontation and correlation. Finally, I believe that by clarifying this Arendtian thought-procedure one is entitled to rereading her works, thus highlighting their relevance to understanding some of our social-political matters.





Dossiê Hannah Arendt