By Bhikhu Parekh (auth.)
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Additional info for Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy
Arendt argues that in the Christian 'political' philosophy politics could obviously enjoy no dignity. It was reduced, even more than in Plato, to a relationship of command and obedience, and consisted in little more than the maintenance of order by coercive means. The Christian lacked Plato's interest in the legitimacy of the ruler, and did not care who ruled as long as he created an orderly life necessary for religious pursuits. For Plato, the polis represented the pursuit of the good and was a moral 30 Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy institution.
31 Now the will by its very nature is a unitary and indivisible whole in the sense that one cannot both will and not will or half-will a course of action. It is therefore inherently incapable of compromise and hence antipolitical. Further, unlike opinions wills are incapable of meditation and reconciliation, and therefore not amenable to debate and discussion. Not surprisingly Rousseau is led to argue that Origin rif the Tradition of Political Philosophy 39 each citizen should think his own thoughts, consult his own conscience or moral instinct, and vote accordingly.
Since he could not develop a theory of freedom which he appropriately defined as a choice between two or more given objects or alternatives rather than a capacity to create or begin something new, Arendt argues that he could not develop a theory of action either. He could only develop a theory of conduct which by its very nature deals with habitual actions in conventional situations. In Arendt's view, a radical reappraisal of the Platonic tradition of political philosophy could hardly be expected ofChristianity.
Hannah Arendt and the Search for a New Political Philosophy by Bhikhu Parekh (auth.)