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Hannah Arendt: "The Social Question"
Transcript of Hannah Arendt: "The Social Question"
April 19, 2018
Dr. Yasemin Sari
the social question, then, relates to:
. the private concerns extending to the public realm
. the concept of "revolution"
"of the men of Revolution only those survived and rose to power who became their spokesman and surrendered
the 'artificial,' man-made laws of a not yet constituted body politic to the 'natural' laws which the masses obeyed,
to the forces by which they were driven, and which indeed were the forces of nature herself,
the force of elemental necessity
" ("the social question," 110)
"the revolution, when it turned from
the foundation of freedom to the liberation of man from suffering,
broke down the barriers of endurance and liberated, as it were, the devastating forces of misfortune and misery instead." (112)
[Q] what is "revolution"?
"however, the men of the french revolution had no conception of the
, an no respect for the legal personality which is given and guaranteed by a body politic. ...
they believed that
they emancipated nature itself
, as it were, liberated the natural man in all men, and given him the Rights of Man to which each was entitled, not by virtue of the body politic to which he belonged but by virtue of being born." ("the social question," 108)
"... (it) equalized because it left all inhabitants equally without the protecting mask of a legal personality."
"revolutions are the only political events which confront us directly and inevitably with
the problem of beginning
" ("the meaning of revolution," 21).
social question -->
existence of poverty
[Q] what is the condition of poverty?
constant want & acute misery
what does this "constant want" relate to?
* think life *
urgency of the life process itself
[Q] how does this relate to arendt's criticism of marx?
WHEN based on this urgency:
[Q] what does revolution aim at, then, in this case?
--> "happiness of the people" (60)
[Q] why is this goal a problem?
transformation of the Rights of Man into the rights of
-- dress, food, and the reproduction of their species (60)
[Q] through which principle do we understand these rights then?
"be that as it may, there is no doubt that the young Marx became convinced that the reason
why the French Revolution had failed to found freedom was that it had failed to solve the social question.
from this he concluded that freedom and poverty were incompatible." (62)
--> transformed the social question into a political one.
--> based on "
" -- that is, in the notion that
poverty is the result of exploitation through a 'ruling class' which is in the possession of the means of violence.
[Q] to which human activity does the condition of natality -- in relation to beginning -- belong in a meaningful way?
--> PUBLIC --> FREEDOM
as the highest good
--> where "life process of the society is the very centre of human endeavour" (64)
freedom --> (reduced to)
necessity --> as it pertains to "labor"
"not freedom but abundance became now the aim of revolution" (64)
[Q] what is the difference between "whatness" and "whoness" according to arendt?
and when can we think of human beings to be the "same"?
[think body & needs]
--> "whoness" --> public // appearance
[Q] what is the significance of "persona" here?
persona ~ mask of the actor
(1) "it had to hide or rather replace the actor's own face and countenance"
(2) "make it possible for the voice to sound through" (106)
--> // legal personality