Arendt on “worldliness”

Not saying I fully endorse this – as social philosophy or as a sociological description – but I like the succinct challenge to some of the pieties of progressive and conservative politics offered in this passage from The Human Condition:

American faith was not all based on a semireligious faith in human nature, but on the contrary, on the possibility of checking human nature in its singularity, by virtue of human bonds and human promises. The hope for man in his singularity lay in the fact that not man but men inhabit the earth and form a world between them. It is human worldliness that will save men from the pitfalls of human nature.

The historical claim is at least true of a certain strain of Purtian communitarian thought: the “compact” tradition.

Quoted in Elster’s “The Market and the Forum”, in the section comparing Niebuhr and Arendt. Funny, because my current research is on Niebuhr and Shklar, and does, at one point, pit Arendt against them – but I’ve never come across this piece until I decided to leaf through an old Blackwell anthology that I’ve owned since high school.

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~ by staticandme on January 29, 2009.

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