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Arendt and Heidegger T H E F AT E OF T H E POL I T I CA L ��� DANA R. VILLA ��� P R I N C E T O N U N I V E R S I T Y P R E S S P R I N C E T O N , N E W J E R S E Y
Copyright ��� 1996 by Princeton University Press Published by Princeton University Press, 41 William Street, Princeton, New Jersey 08540 In the United Kingdom: Princeton University Press, Chichester, West Sussex All Rights Reserved Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Villa, Dana Richard. Arendt and Heidegger : the fate of the political / Dana R. Villa. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 0���691���04401���5 (CL : alk. paper).���ISBN 0���691���04400���7 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Arendt, Hannah���Contributions in political science. 2. Heidegger, Martin, 1889���1976���Contributions in political science. 3. Political science���Philosophy. I. Title. JC251.A74V55 1995. 320���.092���2���dc20 95���13293 This book has been composed in Goudy Princeton University Press books are printed on acid-free paper and meet the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources Printed in the United States of America by Princeton Academic Press 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 1 3 5 7 9 10 8 6 4 2 (pbk)
��� TO M Y PA R E N T S ��� A L F R E D V I L L A A N D V I R G I N I A B A R R E T T V I L L A
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��� C O N T E N T S ��� PREFACE xi ACKNOWLEDGMENTS xiii A NOTE TO THE READER xiv LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS xv INTRODUCTION 3 The Problem of Action in Arendt 3 PART I: ARENDT���S THEORY OF POLITICAL ACTION 15 CHAPTER 1 Arendt, Aristotle, and Action 17 I. Aristotle and Arendt on the Self-Containedness of Action 17 II. Applying the Criterion: Arendt���s Descriptions of Labor, Work, and Action 25 III. The Idea of a ���Self-Contained��� Politics 36 CHAPTER 2 Thinking Action against the Tradition 42 I. Teleology versus Self-Containedness 42 II. The Antipolitical Quality of Aristotelian Praxis 49 III. Autonomous Action: Politics as Performing Art 52 IV. Arendt���s Critique of the Modern Turn to Will and History 59 V. Conclusion: Beyond Aristotle and Kant 77 CHAPTER 3 Arendt, Nietzsche, and the ���Aestheticization��� of Political Action 80 I. Introduction 80 II. Nonsovereignty and the Performance Model: Arendt���s Anti-Platonism 82 III. The Disclosive Nature of ���Aestheticized��� Action 89 IV. Limiting the Agon: Difference and Plurality, Perspectivism and Judgment 99 PART II: ARENDT AND HEIDEGGER 111 CHAPTER 4 The Heideggerian Roots of Arendt���s Political Theory 113 I. Introduction: The Ontological-Political Stakes of Arendt���s Theory of Action 113
viii ��� C O N T E N T S ��� II. The Abyss of Freedom and Dasein���s Disclosedness: Thinking Freedom in Its Worldliness and Contingency 117 III. Heidegger���s Distinction between Authentic and Inauthentic Disclosedness 130 and Arendt���s Appropriation CHAPTER 5 Groundless Action, Groundless Judgment: Politics after 144 Metaphysics I. The Second Level of Appropriation: The Dialectic of Transcendence/Every- 144 dayness and Arendt���s Ontology of the Public World II. Being as Appearing: Post-Nietzschean Ontology and the Evanescence of the 150 Political III. The Problem of Groundless Action and Judgment 155 IV. The Tradition as Reification: Productionist Metaphysics and the With- drawal of the Political 166 CHAPTER 6 171 The Critique of Modernity I. Introduction: Arendt and Heidegger as Critics of Modernity 171 II. Heidegger: The Metaphysics of the Moderns and the Subjectification of the 175 Real Self-Assertion as Self-Grounding: The ���Inauthenticity��� of Modernity 175 The Will to Will and the Conquest of the World as Picture 178 Technology as a Mode of Revealing: The ���Brink of a Precipitous Fall��� 182 188 III. Arendt on Modernity: World Alienation and the Withdrawal of the Political Modern World Alienation and the Subjectification of the Real 188 From Homo Faber to the Animal Laborans: Instrumentality, Technology, and the ���Destruction of the Common World��� 193 IV. A ���Rejectionist Critique���? Thinking the Present from an Arendtian 202 Perspective PART III: THE CRITIQUE OF HEIDEGGER���S 209 PHILOSOPHICAL POLITICS CHAPTER 7 211 Arendt, Heidegger, and the Oblivion of Praxis 211 I. Introduction II. Heidegger���s Concept of the Political 212 The Devaluation of Communicative Action and the Public Sphere in Being and Time 212 The Poetic Model of Disclosure in the Work of the Thirties 219 The ���Oblivion of Praxis��� in Heidegger���s Later Work 224 III. Arendt���s Heidegger Critique: The Unworldliness of the Philosopher 230
��� C O N T E N T S ��� ix CHAPTER 8 241 Heidegger, Poixsis, and Politics 241 I. The Ambiguity of Heidegger���s Contribution to the Oblivion of Praxis II. Politics as Plastic Art: The Productionist Paradigm and the Problem of Hei- 246 degger���s Aestheticism 253 III. Art, Technology, and Totalitarianism 260 IV. Questions Concerning Technology���and the Rethinking of Action 267 V. Heidegger, Arendt, and the Question of ���Faith��� in Human Action NOTES 271 BIBLIOGRAPHY 313 INDEX 323
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��� P R E F A C E ��� THIS BOOK is about Hannah Arendt���s theory of political action and its relation, both positive and negative, to the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. As such, its focus is at once narrow and broad. Narrow because I do not attempt to provide a comprehensive overview and critique of Arendt���s political thought as a whole (readers anxious for such an overview would do well to consult George Kateb���s study or Margaret Canovan���s recent work). One unavoidable result of my focus on her theory of action is that important components of Arendt���s thought are given summary treatment. Thus, to take but one example, The Origins of Totali- tarianism receives relatively modest attention in what follows, as does Eichmann in Jerusalem. The danger of such a selective approach, as Canovan points out, is an underemphasis on the very experiences that drove Arendt to theorize about politics in the first place. Nevertheless, I feel that a focus on the radical and untraditional elements of her theory of action offers us a new and needed per- spective on one of the most original political thinkers of the twentieth century. Indeed, it is my contention that the extent of Hannah Arendt���s originality as a political thinker comes into view only through such sustained attention to her theory of political action and the way it breaks with the Western tradition of political thought. The broadness of the project flows not simply from my using Heidegger to illuminate relatively neglected dimensions of Arendt���s work and Arendt to criti- cize Heidegger���s philosophical politics. To be sure, neither task is a small one. They are complicated, however, by the fact that so much of what is original in Arendt occurs as a critical response to our tradition of philosophy and political theory. Her theory of action performs what can only be called a depth critique of that tradition, right down to its Platonic-Aristotelian roots. She turns to Hei- degger���s deconstruction of Western philosophy in order to uncover the origins of this tradition���s antipolitical prejudices. Arendt does not merely repeat Heidegger���s ���destructive��� gesture: she pushes his interpretive violence in a direction he would not (and apparently did not) recognize. Thus, what is investigated here is not merely the complex relation of Arendt���s political theory to Heidegger���s philoso- phy but, perhaps more compellingly, Arendt���s and Heidegger���s critique of the tradition and their assessment of its contribution to contemporary pathologies. The ���and��� in my title, then, hides the three-sided character of the discussion, a discussion that proceeds by juxtaposing Arendt and Heidegger to the founda- tionalist, authoritarian tradition they both attack. Needless to say, the Arendt who emerges in this context is a thinker at some distance from our everyday political concerns. Unlike some recent commentators, I have not attempted to ���rethink��� Arendt in order to make her more available to current political move- ments. All too often such ���appropriative��� readings have wound up either domes- ticating her thought or rejecting its central thematic concerns. Thus, for exam-
xii ��� P R E F A C E ��� ple, the all-important Arendtian distinction between public and private is often rejected by those who are critical of this distinction as it has been framed by liberal political theory. However, to want to hold onto Arendt���s agonistic view of action while rejecting (or even failing to recognize) her concern for the pecu- liar reality of the public sphere is to leave Arendt behind. It is to make her guilty of holding our prejudices about how and why the line between public and private should be drawn, and then to chastise her for our projection. If one wants to criticize Arendt���s public/private distinction, one should at least admit that it is not the same as that found in liberal theory, and that the motive behind it��� namely, reminding us of the characteristics of a distinct yet historically variable phenomenological realm���has little to do with, say, Locke���s demarcation of the boundaries of legitimate state power. Reading Arendt with and against Heidegger is important, because it helps us to make sense of her fears about the dissipation of the public realm, a realm distinct from both the state and the economy. It also helps us to unravel the mystery of why she wanted to think of politics as a relatively pure, self-contained activity. Her fears and her response are thoughts out of season at a time when the blurring of boundaries is celebrated as the all-purpose cure for the deformations of the modern age. Arendt���s political theory, then, is important not solely for the resources it provides to current struggles (for greater equality, participation, and a healthier deliberative democracy). Its deeper value resides in the radically new perspective she offers on the context in which these struggles arise. Arendt attempts to ���think what we are doing��� in broad, world-historical terms. This project turns on making a distinction between politics, on the one hand, and ���the political,��� on the other. This distinction draws attention to the large and unquestioned set of assumptions we currently bring to the understanding of political action, analysis, and judg- ment. Arendt deploys this distinction not in Platonist fashion, as a kind of tran- scendental measure of the truly political, but as a reminder of the limited and historically determined quality of our sense of the political. We will misconstrue this dimension of Arendt so long as our reading of her work is driven primarily by the political demands of our, or her, day. In my view, such readings constrict the horizons of her political thought, a thought fed equally by its encounter with the tradition and the conditions of contemporary existence, a thought whose urgency derives not so much from the imperative to act as from the need to understand.
��� A C K N O W L E D G M E N T S ��� NUMEROUS individuals and institutions helped to make this book possible. I should like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for a timely grant the Loeweinstein Fellowship at Amherst for additional funding and the Trustees of Amherst College for their generous leaves policy. I should also like to thank the Center for European Studies at Harvard for providing a congenial home away from home during summers and my sabbatical. Finally, thanks to the staff at the Deutsches Literaturarchiv in Marbach for making available many of the manuscripts Heidegger sent Arendt. (The Arendt/Heidegger correspondence remains, as a general rule, off limits to scholars at the present time.) I have benefited from conversation and argument with, amongst others, George Kateb, Seyla Benhabib, Richard Flathman, Bill Connolly, Bonnie Honig, Tracy Strong, Fred Dolan, Bob Gooding-Williams, Nathaniel Berman, Terry Aladjem, Patchen Markell, Shin Chiba, Nick Xenos, and (especially) Jeff Lomo- naco. Parts of the book were presented at the Harvard and Princeton Political Philosophy Colloquiums: I wish to thank all who participated, especially Steve Macedo at Harvard. My colleague Austin Sarat proved a tireless reader of drafts and an indispensable source of much good advice. I first began reading Arendt seriously as a graduate student at Princeton, and I am grateful for the guidance Sheldon Wolin provided. I am also thankful to Richard Rorty, who afforded many of us at Princeton our first glimpse of a ���disenchanted��� Heidegger. As the book will attest, I have found disagreements with my teachers and colleagues to be the most instructive I beg their indulgence. Lurline Dowell word-processed the penultimate version of the entire book and was of great help throughout the composing process. Vicki Farrington bravely undertook the task of last-minute changes. A special word of thanks to Cathy Ciepiela, Fred Dolan, and Tycho Manson for friendship over sometimes difficult years. The book is dedicated to my parents, whose support has been constant and unstinting. Finally, I should like to thank George Kateb, for the example provided by his dedication to the life of the mind, and Svetlana Boym, for teaching me about aesthetics and showing me that seri- ousness can take many forms, not all of them Germanic. ��� Parts of Chapter 3 originally appeared in Political Theory, vol. 20, no. 2, 274���308, ��� Sage Publications, reprinted by permission, Sage Publications, Inc.
��� A N O T E T O T H E R E A D E R ��� AS READERS of Arendt and Heidegger know, one aspect of the Western tradition they do not address critically is its gender bias. Both employ a philosophical/ theoretical vocabulary notable for its masculine pronouns and equation of ���man��� with humanity or human individuals. For the most part, I have chosen to leave their usage intact, rather than create the highly misleading impression of gender neutrality or gender sensitivity in their texts. Since much of my discussion con- cerns their response to Aristotle, Kant, Nietzsche, et al., the avoidance of anach- ronism with respect to these authors also required resisting the temptation to transmute their vocabulary into something more palatable from our perspective.
��� A B B R E V I A T I O N S ��� IN CITING works in the notes, short titles have generally been used. Works fre- quently cited throughout the book, as well as in the notes, have been identified by the following abbreviations. Full references can be found in the Bibliography. BPF Hannah Arendt, Between Past and Future BT Martin Heidegger, Being and Time BW Martin Heidegger, Basic Writings CR Hannah Arendt, Crises of the Republic HAP Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, Heidegger, Art and Politics HC Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition IM Martin Heidegger, An Introduction to Metaphysics Kant Lectures Hannah Arendt, Lectures on Kant���s Political Philosophy LH Martin Heidegger, ���Letter on Humanism,��� in Basic Writings LM Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind MDT Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times NE Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics OR Hannah Arendt, On Revolution OT Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism OWA Martin Heidegger, ���The Origin of the Work of Art,��� in Poetry, Language, Thought PDM J��rgen Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity POB Richard Wolin, The Politics of Being QCT Martin Heidegger, ���The Question Concerning Technology,��� in The Question Concerning Technology and Other Essays SZ Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit