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Regression and Transcendency of Classical Republicanism

Author: HuSuMei
Tutor: SuXiaoYun
School: Guangxi Normal University
Course: The philosophy of Marxism
Keywords: classic republicanism political philosophy action public realm freedom
CLC: D09
Type: Master's thesis
Year: 2008
Downloads: 306
Quote: 1
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Abstract


Of all the political philosophers in the 20th century, American-German scholar Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) with Jewish origin is the most unique one who is rich in originality. She is also considered an elitist feminine in human’s history of thoughts. Arendt once studied under Heidegger and Jaspers who were the most famous philosophers in Germany, but in the field of thoughts she always deemed herself as an alone hand. Her political theories never belonged to Marxism in any sense, although she was deeply interested in Marx. She herself was neither a member of any organizations made of intellectuals nor the idol of any political movements. In western academia, Margaret Canovan was the first scholar who studied the thoughts of Arendt systematically. According to the analysis of Margaret Canovan, Arendt’s thoughts closely related with the real political events, but her thinking pattern was introspective. Then, a tensional relation between her disconsolate psychic life and realm of public politics lurked in her literatures, which added the complexity and illegibility into her thoughts and aroused different or opposite explanation by different scholars easily.Although Arendt’s political preference was enveloped strangely all the time. Some scholars even perceived her as“new liberalist”,“radical democrat”or“contemporary republican”. Nevertheless, Arendt’s political philosophy should still be looked upon as revival of classical republicanism, based on her definition of“freedom”,“action”and“public realm”. On the other hand, Arendt’s thoughts of political philosophy should be regarded as the breakthrough of politically theoretical limits of modern liberalism and a surpassing over classical republicanism, rather than regress to the classical republicanism. Obviously, for Arendt, it is of great significance to understand and surpass classic republican spirit, and to infuse modern political life with such spirit. As a result, seen from the aspect of Marxism, what’s more important to Arendt’s political philosophy is not her attitude toward theory but her struggle for grasping the essence of political activities. Hereby, this paper is written to dissertate on Arendt’s thoughts.Four parts are included in this paper.Chapter One: The fundamental connotation of Arendt’s political philosophy was analyzed by expounding the three basic concepts----action, public realm and freedom. In her theory of action, the activities of human beings were considered to involve labor, work and action, each of which corresponded to one of man’s three basic qualifications. Action is the necessary and sufficient condition of the existence of our human beings, and it is also the kernel of her political theory. In her theory of public realm, concept of public realm was defined by opposing the private realm. Arendt animadverted on the rise of social realm. She pointed out that public realm provides the important space for action and freedom. In her theory of freedom, Arendt thought that freedom existed in the field of politics by clarifying the relationship among freedom, liberation and volitional liberty.Chapter Two: After analyzing Arendt’s political conception explained by her innovative unscrambling of political theory and public life of ancient Greece, and her political tropism revealed by her comment on historical and contemporary affairs, a meeting of minds between Arendt’s political philosophy and classical republicanism was dissertated in detail from three aspects----canonizing of active action, caring for public life and emphasis of political freedom. A complex of classical republicanism in Arendt’s thoughts of political philosophy partly came from her cognitive faculty, but more of them were from her environment of times, her life experiences and her retrospection of and reaction to times and life.Chapter Three: Transcendency of Arendt’s political philosophy over classical republicanism is expatiated from two aspects----her claim on unification of“action”and“thought”and her respect for value and freedom of individuals. Arendt recognized profoundly that action was mired in difficulties. She broke the old antagonism of“action”and“thought”via investigation into“psychic life”. And she found a bridge between thought and action when she defined the conception of judgment. Starting with the unification of freedom and action, Arendt emphasized the plurality of human beings and blazoned forth individual idiosyncrasy theoretically, which reflected individual value, benefit and dignity. Consequently, a brand new and particular view of freedom was constructed, which not only originated, but surpassed classical republicanism.Chapter Four: A brief evaluation was made about Arendt’s thoughts of classical republicanism within the Marxist frame of reference. The limitation of Arendt’s thoughts was also pointed out based on her delimitation of basic concepts, her analysis of the basic theory and her grasping of the basic stance. The present value of Arendt’s thoughts of classical republicanism was analyzed from different angles (e.g. benefits for contemporary theorists, the international politics and the building of a harmonious society in China).

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CLC: > Political, legal > Political Theory > History of Political Science,History of Political Thought
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