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"The Human Condition, ch.6" by Hannah Arendt
"Vita Activa and the Modern Age"
  • On the mapping of the world and the loss of horizons (p.250)
  • "Not destruction but conservation is the enemy of modernity." (p.253)
  • Expropriation --> world alienation (p.253)
  • Property --> wealth --> world alienation (p.253)
  • Cartesian egotism and the spirit of capitalism (world alienation) (p.254)
  • Wealth and labour --> capital (p.255); capital --> expropriation --> capital
  • Society, social classes have replaced family in the new life-process (p.256)
  • Nation-state became to society what homestead was to the family (p.256)
  • Unification (blending) of Earth & Sky (loss of boundries) in modern physics (p.262)
  • Archimedian point, standpoint outside of nature and the world (p.269)
  • Dichotomy between technical ability and prudence (p.270)
  • Greek thaumadzein v. Cartesian doubt (p.273)
  • Kierkegaard and Cartesian doubt (p.275)
  • Loss of certainty in salvation (p.277-8)
  • Lying suddenly becomes a sin (p.278)
  • Knowing through making (p.282)
  • Common-sense v. common-sense (p.283)
  • Modern science as vita contemplativa (im-practical) (p.289)
  • Homo faber and science (p.294-5)
  • Aristotle elevates technical knowledge above the practical?? (p.301)
  • Homo faber always at the head of the vita contemplativa (p.304)
  • Ancient v. modern hedonism (Epic v. Bentham) (p.310-11)
  • Two reversals (of dyads) which made the modern world (p.320)
  • Why the polis? To provide a forum for extraordinaty deeds and then immortalization (p.197); i.e. Pericles' Funeral oration
  • The political realm rises [thus] directly out of acting together, "the sharing of words and deeds" [logon kai pragmaton koinonein] Aris, (p.198)
  • The polis exists for the sake of immortalizing great deeds (p.198)
  • Definition of "power", anti-Weberian (p.200); Strength-Force-Power
  • Tyrants and force (p.202); tyranny destroys power, undermines itself
  • The will-to-power and the weak (p.203)
  • Power preserves the public realm, but needs the raison d'etre of speech and action (p.204)
  • The polis as means for immortal action, unaided by homo faber (p.204)

Animal Greatest Good
zoon politikonimmortal speech and deeds
homo faberimmortal works
animal laboranslife itself, p.208
*But even these later two need a public realm in order to onto reality, though they subvert politics to their own ends.
  • "No man [no artistic genius] can truly reify himself, disclose himself" (p.211)
  • Knowing = making in modernity (p.228)
  • The language of efficiency (p.229), language of means and ends
  • The false identification of freedom and sovereignty (p.234-5)
  • Putting an end to action with forgiveness and promises (p.236)
  • Non-political action can have no forgiveness or promises, thus no end (p.237)


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 11th, 2009 09:56 pm (UTC)
Are you in classes still?? Don't you know it's the summer! Why the question marks after Aristotle on practical and theoretical knowledge?
Aug. 12th, 2009 01:43 am (UTC)
Grad studies never end, especially when they've ended! Really though, I'm typing-up my accumulated notes from the last year before I have the opportunity to lose them. Queerly, I keep on finding new piles of them; I think that they may be breeding...

The question marks after the note on Aristotle re. technical and practical knowledge are a reminder to myself to fact-check, at some point, Arendt's assertion. I'm not an expert on Aristotle, but I find it hard to see where she gleaned the idea that he elevated technical knowledge above phronesis. I'd gotten used to her bandying the same accusation against Plato, but it was something else to read her stating the same of his student.
Aug. 12th, 2009 02:14 am (UTC)
There's a debate about it in the literature, but I think that Arendt is right about Aristotle, with the qualification that it is a complicated issue. If you weren't aware of them already, check out Nicomachean Ethics VI especially 7-13, and X, especially 6-8. Those chapters of book ten are infamous. De Anima would also be relevant, though I don't recall it quite as well off-hand, but I think probably you'd want III:7-11.

You're in poli-sci aren't you? Is it typical for poli-sci grad students to be this involved in philosophy? I'm glad to see I'm not the only one who studies all summer! I couldn't imagine it otherwise, but apparently there are those who disagree!
Aug. 13th, 2009 05:05 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the citations; I've been going over them, slowly, in my spare time. My initial impression is that Aristotle is maintaining the superiority of phronesis over teché when he indicates in NE, VI.4-5 that the later possesses no aret´ in and of it self, but gains it only through its use. I'm taking "use" to refer to implementation in support of action, which, if practiced excellently, ought to be guided by phronesis. If that reading is borne-out, then it would seem to reassert prudence's superiority in the hierarchy. But, I could easily be wrong, as there is a lot more discussion to bear-out...

Yes, I am a poli-sci grad, but political science students (grads or otherwise) generally don't tend to concentrate on political theory or political philosophy, and most departments don't tend to staff many theorists. My alma mater, Concordia U. in Montreal, was a bit exceptional, in that it was formed by the merger of a secular and a Jesuit college. At this point, they have about six theory profs (excepting Marxists and feminist thinkers); that's an unusually large number, which made it possible to concentrate almost exclusively on political philosophy for a B.A. That would be difficult to do in most places.
Aug. 14th, 2009 08:28 am (UTC)
I read your comment a few times scratching my head trying to make sense of it until I went back to your original post and realized I had read "technical knowledge" as theoretical science rather than as productive science! This will teach me to read livejournal in between glances at papers on the similar topics... Yes, you're absolutely right, the idea that techne is superior to phronesis is definitely un-Aristotelian, unless there is some very non-obvious argument underlying the claim.
Aug. 15th, 2009 09:37 pm (UTC)
Ah, okay. That makes some sense to me; I can see how there might be a vigorous debate over whether the Philosopher prioritized phronesis over the bios theoretikos. That only leaves the mystery of what it is that Arendt is perceiving when she accuses him, as well as Plato, of too often treating politics as a branch of fabrication (HC, p.230). I don't have the impression that she's simply making an amateur-ish mistake, but she does seem to be implying that Aristotle's political science is contaminated by technical reasoning. I don't agree, but it's an interesting disagreement.
Aug. 15th, 2009 11:41 pm (UTC)
I suppose I should go read the Arendt reference, but the only argument I can think of develops from (e.g.) the passage in EN 1:1 about the end of the hierarchy of ends in the polis. The bridle-maker had the end of making bridles for horses, but in the political sense this serves the end of the city's ability to go to war, and the object of political science is to grasp this hierarchy of ends which unites the activities of the polis. Thus on a dominant reading of the role of contemplation, the ultimate end of the polis is to have people pursuing philosophic wisdom, although ultimately we need bridle-makers and soldiers and so on in order to pursue this end. I can imagine technique as being read in a non-Aristotelian sense to refer to this question of production broadly -- i.e. to include the production of philosophic wisdom through contemplation, for example -- and in this sense Aristotelian political science looking technical, rather than... I don't know, following some conception of ethics which doesn't involve this sort of hierarchy of ends in a community.
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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