The venture into the public realm (H. Arendt)


Permit me a last question. In a tribute to Jaspers you said: “Humanity is never acquired in solitude, and never by giving one’s work to the public. It can be achieved only by one who has thrown his life and his person into ‘the venture into the public realm’”. This ‘venture into the public realm’ -which is a quotation from Jaspers- what does it mean for Hannah Arendt?.


The venture into the public realm seems clear to me. One exposes oneself to the light of the public, as a person. Although I am of the opinion that one must not appear and act in public self-consciously, still I know that in every action the person is expressed as in no other human activity. Speaking is also a form of action. That is one venture. The other is: we start something. We weave our strand into a network of relations. What comes of it we never know. We’ve all been taught to say: Lord forgive them, for they not know what they do. That is true of all action. Quite simply and concretely true, because one cannot know. That is what is meant by a venture. And now I would say that this venture is only possible when there is trust in people. A trust –which is difficult to formulate but fundamental—in what is human in all people. Otherwise such a venture could not be made.” (1964).

Hannah Arendt, Essays in Understanding (1994), pp. 22-23.


Encuentro de Derechos Humanos 2012

Encuentro de Derechos Humanos 2012 (por la Excarcelación de Oscar López Rivera, dedicado a la Memoria de Juan Santiago Nieves)
7 al 10 dic en la Universidad del Sagrado Corazon

Pulsa para el Programa y más detalles.


Prejudice Against Politics

Prejudice Against Politics and What, In Fact, Politics is Today.

Any talk of politics in our time has to begin with those prejudices that all of us who aren’t professional politicians have against politics. Our shared prejudices are themselves political in the broadest sense. They do not originate in the arrogance of the educated, are not the result of the cynicism of those who have seen too much and understood too little. Because prejudices crop up in our own thinking, we cannot ignore them, and since they refer to undeniable realities and faithfully reflect our current situation precisely in its political aspects, we cannot silence them with arguments. These prejudices, however, are not judgments. They indicate that we have stumbled into a situation in which we do not know, or do not yet know, how to function in just such political terms. The danger is that politics may vanish entirely from the world. Our prejudices invade our thoughts; they throw the baby out with the bathwater, confuse politics with what would put an end to politics and present that very catastrophe as if it we inherent in the nature of things and thus inevitable.

Underlying our prejudices against politics today are hope and fear: the fear that the humanity could destroy itself through politics and through the means of force now at its disposal, and linked with this fear, the hope that humanity will come to its senses and rid the world, not of humankind, but of politics. It could do so through a world government that transforms the state into an administrative machine, resolve political conflicts bureaucratically, and replaces armies with police forces. If politics is defined in its usual sense, as a relationship between the rulers and the ruled, this hope is, of course, purely utopian. In taking this point of view, we would end up not with the abolition of politics, but with a despotism of massive proportions in which the abyss separating the rulers from the ruled would be so gigantic that any sort of rebellion would no longer be possible, not to mention any form of control of the rulers by the ruled. The fact that no individual ---no despot, per se--- could be identified within this world government would in no way change its despotic character. Bureaucratic rule, the anonymous of the bureaucrat, is no less despotic because “nobody” exercises it. On the contrary, it is more fearsome still, because no one can speak with or petition this “nobody”.”

-Hannah Arendt, “Introduction into Politics”, in The Promise of Politics (Shocken Books, NY, 2005), pp.  96-97.


Carta de Agamben a Arendt

"I am a young writer and essayist for whom discovering your books last year has represented a decisive experience. May I express here my gratitude to you, and that of those who, along with me, in the gap between past and future, feel all the urgency of working in the direction you pointed out."

-Fragmento de una carta de Giorgio Agamben a Hannah Arendt en 1970, cuando el primero tenía 26 años. Tomado de Vivian Liska, "A Lawless Legacy: Hannah Arendt and Giorgio Agamben", en M. Goldoni and C. McCorkindale, Hannah Arendt and the Law (2012) p. 80.

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