You are on page 1of 42

M O D E R N I T Y A N D H U M A N I N I T I A T I V E : T H E S T R U C T U R E

OF H A N N A H
A R E N D T ' s LIFE OF THE MIND
H
annah A rendt was a philos opher of the modern condition, yet a
philos opher of that condition who pos s es s ed an enormous
gras p of the his tory of ideas . T hes e two great confines -the condi-
tion in which modern man finds hims elf and the tradition provided
by the his tory of ideas -cons titute the parameters within which
everything Hannah A rendt ever wrote is located. A rendt did not
write s ys tematic philos ophy. Her very approach made s uch a pro-
duct unthinkable. Herein lies much of the difficulty various com-
mentators have found in her writings . She was primarily a political
theoris t, yet her unorthodox approach, her refus al to fit comfortably
into the accepted mold of the political theoris t, has produced an
uns ettling view of her work among political s cientis ts .' Her refus al
1. See, for example, Margaret Canovan, The Political Thought of Hannah Arendt
(New York, 1974), 1:
"
If the very existence of [Arendt
'
s] work contradicts current
assumptions, its content and style present a conscious challenge to academic or-
thodoxy;" Hans Morgenthau, "Hannah Arendt on Totalitarian Democracy," Social
Research 44 (1977), 128: "The philosophic contribution which Hannah Arendt makes
to political thought is highly original....For it refuses to recognize what the Western
tradition has recognized as politics" (cf. Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition
[Garden City, N.Y., 1959-hereafter referred to as HC], 9, 13, 15); Ernst Vollrath,
"Hannah Arendt and the Method of Political Thinking,"
Social Research 44 (1977),
161: "What distinguishes [Arendt's] thinking from that of others is an uncommon
degree of theoretical
unprejudice" (Vollrath's italics); George Kateb, "Freedom and
Worldliness in the Thought of Hannah Arendt,"
Political Theory 5 (1977), 143:
"Arendt's mission as a philosopher should be recognized as the recovery of the idea of
political action, in a culture which she thinks has lost practice of it, and in which all
philosophy is united, if in nothing else, in denying intrinsic value to it" (cf., however,
ibid., 177); and Dante Germino,
Beyond Ideology: The Revival of Political Theory
(New York, 1967), 144:
"
Arendt
'
s own work is a testimony that a recovery of the sense
of dignity and responsible freedom in human action is not only a possibility in our time
but may actually be underway. This, indeed, is what the recovery of political theory is
all about" (cf., however, ibid., 142).
190
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
to cons ider anything in her mas s ive s cholarly output without
likewis e cons idering how it related to the his tory of human thought,
her rejection of formalis tic theorizing, and her continual return to
the
modern condition in the proces s of her dis cus s ions , will
guarantee the continuation of both the fas cination with her ap-
proach and the difficulties that approach occas ions .
T he concept of political action permeates much of her work, but
it is in the las t of her labors , the two volumes entitled
The Life of the
Mind,
that s he pres ents a concerted attempt to unders tand the s pr-
ing from which human initiative flows -the proces s of human
reas oning.
T hes e volumes s tand as a neces s ary complement to
A rendt' s concern with political action, and there are a number of
parallels between what one finds in thes e volumes and the material
cons idered in her earlier publications .
2
T here is a s trikingly cohes ive
John S. Nelson, on the other hand, finds in Arendt's "treatment of the problematics
of politics and truth...what she regarded a mark of great philosophy-fundamental
and flagrant contradiction." John S. Nelson, "Politics and Truth: Arendt's Pro-
blematics,"
American Journal of Political Science 22 (1978), 271. Nelson adds that
these
"
contradictions
"
testify "not only to the intricacy of [Arendt's] insight, but also to
the continuing war she fought against her own formalist inclinations." Ibid., 297.
Hannah Arendt,
The Life of the Mind, 2 vols., ed. Mary McCarthy (New York,
1978); volume 1: Thinking;
volume 2: Willing. The substance of volume 1 and a por-
tion of volume 2 were presented under the auspices of the Gifford Lectures at the
University of Aberdeen in 1973 and 1974. Hereafter, all references to passages from
The Life of the Mind will be by volume and page number.
2. There is an obvious, and quite important, parallel to HC, a parallel recognized
by several commentators while the two volumes were still at the manuscript stage. See
Hans Jonas, "Acting, Knowing, Thinking: Gleanings from Hannah Arendt's
Philosophical Work," Social Research
44 (1977), 28-29, 35-43; Vollrath, op. cit.,
177f.; J. Glenn Gray, "The Winds of Thought," Social Research 44 (1977), 44 (a
discussion based upon Arendt's "Thinking and Moral Consideration," presented at
Colorado College in 1970); and Richard J. Bernstein, "Hannah Arendt: Opinion
and
Judgment," paper delivered at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science
Association, Chicago, 1976,1.
Arendt
specifically addresses this parallel in the "Introduction" to volume 1 of The
Life of the Mind
(the only mention of HC in either volume). There she notes that a
concern for the question "What is thinking?" has "renewed in me certain doubts that
have been plaguing me ever since I had finished a study of what my publisher wisely
called `The Human Condition,' but which I had intended more modestly as an inquiry
into `The Vita Activa.' I had been concerned with the problem of Action, the oldest
HANNAH
ARENDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
191
quality to the relations hips among her works which would lead one
to expect s uch parallels .
3
N o s tudy of the thought of Hannah A rendt
can avoid taking
The Life of the Mind
as a compelling point from
which to analyze her works as a whole. It is to thes e two volumes ,
therefore, that the following es s ay is exclus ively directed. T his very
attempt has its difficulties , since
the volumes do not pres ent a
philos ophy as s uch. R ather, they project A rendt' s reflections upon
the human rational propens ity, reflections which bear fruitful
witnes s to her life-long devotion to the his tory of human thought. T o
the extent that the pres ent format allows , therefore, we s hould seek
to unders tand thes e reflections
in the manner in which A rendt has
unfolded them.
T here is a certain pers onal quality in The Life of the Mind.
One
has the decided temptation to obs erve that what they project is the
es s ence of A rendt' s dialogues with hers elf.' Viewing the grand
des ign of the project as one which addres s es the three qualities of the
life of the mind-thinking, willing, and judging-A rendt s eeks to
confront s quarely the rational experience in the pos t-metaphys ical
and bas ically pos t-philos ophical period in which we currently find
.
5
concern of political theory, and what had always troubled me about it was the very
term I adopted by my reflections on the matter, namely,
vita activa, was coined by
men who were devoted to the contemplative way of life and who looked upon all kinds
of being alive from that perspective" (1.6-unless otherwise indicated, all italics are
Arendt's). Cf.
HC 242, where it is suggested that modernity has produced the necessity
of evaluating the life of the mind by dismissing philosophy's pursuit of "Being in its true
appearance," and maintaining that it should properly discuss "the science of the struc-
ture of the mind."
The "wisdom" of her American publisher did not translate into the German edition
of HC which was in fact entitled Vita Activa: oder Vom ttitigen Leben
(Stuttgart,
1960).
3.
See, for example, Leroy A. Cooper,
"
Hannah Arendt
'
s Political. Philosophy: An
Interpretation,"
The Review of Politics 38 (1976), 170-171, n. 84; Jonas
op. cit., 26;
and Vollrath, op. cit.,
161. The nature of the present paper precludes a detailed ex-
amination of such parallels. Relevant passages from Arendt's other works will be cited
in footnotes.
4. See Bernstein, op. cit., 25; and Jonas,
op. cit., 43, who writes of The Life
of the
Mind:
"May winds and waves be kind to what [Arendt] has set adrift in them of her
mind's innermost self."
5. There is no doubt that Arendt both regarded the modern age as post-
metaphysical and post philosophical and that she considered herself well within that
192 T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
T he des ign was not completed. Hannah A rendt died les s than a
week after completing the s ection on willing.
We are left,
therefore, without what would have become the "coping-s tone" of
the project-the concept of judging,' A s is clear from the "Pos ts crip-
tum" found in volume 1, A rendt conceived of the work as cons ider-
ing thinking in volume 1 and willing and judging in volume
2. T he
divis ion is clear: thinking, of its very nature, generalizes , while will-
ing and judging deal with particulars , and are therefore "much
clos er to the world of appearances " (1.213).
It is the manifes tation of appearances which cons titutes the initial
departure of the firs t volume, and the texture of appearance which
s erves to ground the las t part of the s econd volume. One is tempted to
s ugges t that while thinking, of its very es s ence, is a cons ideration of
approach. Toward the end of volume 1 we find the following personal observation: "I
have spoken about the metaphysical `fallacies,' which...do contain important hints of
what this curious out-of-order activity called thinking is all about. In other words, I
have clearly joined the ranks of those who for some time now have been attempting to
dismantle metaphysics, and philosophy with all its categories, as we have come to
know them from the beginning in Greece until today. Such dismantling is possible only
on the assumption that the thread of tradition is broken and that we shall not be able to
renew it. Historically speaking what actually has broken down is the Roman trinity
that for thousands of years united religion, authority, and tradition
"
(1.211-212). See
also 1.12-13, where Arendt provides two advantages "of our situation following the
demise of metaphysics and philosophy." The first "permit[s] us to look on the past with
new eyes; unburdened and unguided by any traditions...." The second is the demise of
the "ago-old distinction between the many and the `professional thinkers'...."
On the implications of "the Roman trinity," see Hannah Arendt,
Between Past and
Future: Eight Exercises in Political Thought
(New York, 1968)-hereafter referred to
as BPF), 91-141 (especially 140, where almost the exact same language is used; the one
noticeable exception is that here Arendt considers the decline of the "trinity" to be
basically a political problem). Cf. Hannah Arendt, Men in Dark Times (New York,
1988-hereafter referred to as MDT), 196, 198-199; and id., On Revolution (New
York, 1965-hereafter referred to as OR), 159.
6. See Mary McCarthy
'
s
"
Editor
'
s Postface," appended to each volume, which pro-
vides both a deeply moving account of her long years of collaboration with Arendt and
an explanation of the difficulties experienced in bringing the volumes to print.
7. We have included in the second volume an appendix derived from Arendt's lec-
tures on Kant which undoubtedly would have constituted the basis for her discussion of
judging (since Kant's Critique of Judgment remains the only work exclusively devoted
to the subject-see 1.94-95).
8. 2.195-217: "The Abyss of Freedom and the Novus Ordo Seclorum."
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 193
things out of time, that is , without regard for the temporal realities of
exis tence, and while willing, of its very nature, cons iders things which
have not yet occurred, judging would provide the dimens ion of the
mind which s eeks to bring exis tence back into focus , that which, in its
relations hips with the other two faculties of the mind, produces an ap-
proach to particulars which allows the mind to overcome the non-
temporal, non-pres ent, domains of thinking and willing.
But s o much for idle s peculation. What we do pos s es s in the two
volumes is overwhelming. In its decis ive import, The Life of the Mind
attempts to develop a proper unders tanding of rational exis tence. E ven
in its uncompleted form, it has but one rival in the his tory of
thought-Kant' s three Critiques. A nd even here, A rendt faces the
dimens ions of rational exis tence without the comforts which the
development of a s ys tematized philos ophy provided for Kant. A rendt is
not developing a s ys tem. T here are any number of ques tions introduced
in the two volumes and not ans wered.
The Life of the Mind is
an ex-
pos ition; it is not written to either res cue philos ophy or eulogize its
death. It is an expos ition which often comments on its s ubject matter as
much in the way in which A rendt addres s es an is s ue as in terms of what
is actually s aid.
The Life of the Mind pres ents A rendt' s es s ential explanation of the
mind, an explanation which provides both direction and ins ight to the
problem of action in the modern period. It is remarkable that the two
volumes deal s o infrequently with the implications of action. T his is les s
s urpris ing when one cons iders what action implies -unders tanding,
decis ion, and choice; that is , it requires thinking, willing, and judging.
The Life of the Mind, therefore, s tands as the unfolding of the neces s ary
pre-conditions for rational conduct. A nd while action, of its very
nature, encompas s es activity directed at s ome external object, thereby
placing human conduct completely within the purview of phys ical ex-
is tence, the "now" of human collective exis tence, the mind mus t deal
with the intens ely pers onal purs uit of meaning, of the equation of
meaning to the bas ic uncertainty of that which is anticipated but which
yet does not exis t, and with the corres ponding problems which the inter-
change between meaning and anticipation, between thinking and will-
9.
This has occasioned a pronounced concern for the volumes among some
reviewers. See, for example, Sheldon Wolin's review entitled "Stopping to Think," The
New York Review of
Books 25 (October 26, 1978), 16-18.
1
194
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
ing, connote. In action, one always becomes encaps ulated by the im-
mediate phys ical s ituation-in which that which is pers onal and that
which is external come to inters ect. In the domain of the mind, on the
other hand, one is completely at home with ones elf. A good deal of the
pes s imis tic s inews of
The Life of the Mindaris es from this intens ely in-
ternal relations hip. Only in the domain of the mind mus t one continual-
ly jus tify one' s exis tence to the hars hes t of critics ; it is only in the intens e-
ly intros pective conduct of the mind that one comes to confront s quarely
one' s own being. A rendt marvelous ly pres ents the inordinately difficult
life of the mind by turning to Socrates and his dis cus s ions with Hippias :
When Hippias goes home, he remains one, for, though he lives alone, he does not
seek to keep himself company. He certainly does not lose consciousness; he is simp-
ly not in the habit of actualizing it. When Socrates goes home, he is not alone, he is
by himself. Clearly, with this fellow who awaits him, Socrates to has come to some
kind of agreement, because they live under the same roof. Better be at odds with
the whole world than be at odds with the only one you are forced to live together
with when you have left company behind (1.188).
I.
In the "Introduction" to volume 1, A rendt dis tinguis hes between
reas on and intellect-reas on being related to the activity of thinking
and concerned with meaning; while intellect is related to the activity of
knowing, and is concerned with cognition (1.14).
1
0 It is the former
trilogy-reas on, thinking, and meaning-and, further, where thinking
is to be properly pos itioned in the phenomenal world which compris e
the central concern of the entire volume.
11
10.
"The need of reason is not inspired by the quest for truth but by the quest for
meaning. And truth and meaning are not the same" (1.15).
"The basic fallacy, taking
precedence over all specific metaphysical fallacies, is to interpret meaning on the
model of truth" (ibid.).
The primary point of departure here is Arendt's distinction
between Kant's usages of
Vernunft ("reason") and Verstand
("intellect"). See 1.13 and
1.57-58. Cf. MDT 86f. On Kant
'
s realization that there is no theoretical truth for man
and the "inhumanity of the moral philosophy" resulting, see
ibid.,
26-27.
11.
Arendt finds this distinction between thinking and cognition in Hermann
Broch's writings. See
ibid.,
130ff. "This, at any rate, is what cognition aims at in the
final analysis: it desires the deed. Because literature did nothing, Broch turned away
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S
LIFE OF THE MIND 195
T he firs t eight parts are collected under the chapter heading of
"A ppearance." What limits all things of this world together is that
they
"
appear
"
to man. A ppearance, by its very pres ence, as s umes
s pectators (1.22). Being and appearance, therefore, coincide (1.19).
How things "appear to me" is the manner "in which the appearing
world is acknowledged and perceived" (1.21), but precis ely becaus e
being and appearance are coincident, the problem of thinking and
its pos ition in the world emerges (1.23). In removing one' s attention
from the life of the s ens es to the life of the mind, one s till is s eeking
appearances , at a higher level than s ens e, but appearances
nonetheles s (1.24). N either the purs uits of modern s cience (cf, BPF
267ff), nor thos e of philos ophy, can ever elude the common s ens e
world), the world of appearance (1.26). E xis tence is primarily, if
not exclus ively, reflected in "the values of the s urface;"
12
ap-
pearance-both projected and received-cons titutes the mos t vis ible
and vital ingredient of modern life. What is concealed within
ones elf is never adequately expres s ed.
T his is , as the heading of the part in which it is contained reveals ,
a "revers al of the metaphys ical hierarchy," (s ee als o HC 17, 262f;
BPF 83) a revers al which the modern age in both s cience and
philos ophy has energetically cons tructed. T he "revers al," however,
s ucceeds only in obfus cating the identification of the relations hip
between internal and external dimens ions of exis tence. T he tens ion
which is produced is not res olved; it is merely viewed
"ups ide-down."
13
from literature, he rejected philosophy because it was limited to mere contemplation
and thinking, and ended by placing all his hopes in politics." Ibid., 148-149. Broch's
writings, with which Arendt was intimately familiar, provide the literary equivalent
to her philosophical distinction between thinking and knowing. See the introduction to
her edition of Brach's work-Hermann Broch: Dichten and Erkennen,
2 vols. (Zurich,
1955), 5-42. On the distinction between meaning and cognition, see also HC 150f. On
the modern confusion of meaning and end, compare BPF 78. See also Gray,
op. cit.,
53f; and Canovan, op. cit., 2.
Kateb observes: "Arendt never unequivocably and with
finality says what the existential status is of spending a life in mental life" (Kateb,
op.
cit.,
145), to which the following note is appended-"Her Gifford Lectures, to be
published soon, may resolve the matter"
(ibid., 178, n. 20).
12.
Arendt is borrowing the morphological terminology of Adolph Portmann's Das
Tier als soziales Wesen
(Zurich, 1953) at this point. Cf. Hannah Arendt, On Violence
(New York, 1970-hereafter referred to as OV), 59-60.
13.
Similarly, Arendt will contend (1.176) that when Nietzsche reversed Platonism,
he forgot "that a reversed Plato is still Plato,
"
or Marx
'
s "turn[ing] Hegel upside down
"
nonetheless "produc[ed] a strictly Hegelian system of history in the process.
"
Hegel, for
196 T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
T he very proces s of thinking s tands in contradis tinction to the be-
ing/appearance connection,
14
for thinking s eeks to purs ue an inter-
nal beingnes s apart from the externality of appearance.
15
T urning
firs t to Kant on the s ubject of the thinking ego and the s elf, and then
to D es cartes on the s ubject of reality and the thinking ego, A rendt
deftly
brings the two major underpinnings of the modern
metaphys ical and philos ophical "collaps e" into focus .
Kant s ought to ground appearance in being. He s ought to
demons trate that there was "a `thing in its elf,' behind `mere' ap-
pearance," reflected mos t clearly in the thinking proces s which
ex-
hibits the "thinking ego" as the "thing in its elf"
(1.42 ).
16
Since all
phys ical life is appearance, however, and the progres s ion of ap-
pearance cons titutes time as we know it, the true being of the think-
ing ego s tands s omewhat apart from time, and thus s omewhat apart
from reality.
It
was D es cartes , however, who had pos ited a relations hip bet-
ween reality and the thinking ego,
17
one which es tablis hed a
"theoretical
and exis tential cons is tency" for s olips is m (1.46).
D es cartes ' famous
cogito ergo sum (which A rendt rightly argues
his part, asserted that "the world of philosophy [is for common sense] a world turned
upside down" (1.89, referring to Hegel's "Ueber das Wesen der Philosophischen
Kritik" [ Hegel Studienausgabe
(Frankfurt, 1968), I, 103]). On Nietzsche's
"
reversed
Platonism," see 2.176, HC 17; and BPF 30,35.
14. Science's very pursuit has given new force to the refutation of "the elementary
logical fallacy of all theories that rely on the dichotomy of Being and Appearance..."
(1.25-26). Cf. OV6-7. See HC 100-101 for the connection between the discovery of
process by the natural sciences and introspection in philosophy; and Hannah Arendt,
The Origins of Totalitarianism, 2nd Ed. (London, 1958-hereafter referred to as OT),
298, on the emancipation of twentieth century man from nature (as eighteenth century
man had been emancipated from history) and the problems this emancipation occa-
sions for
"
humanity." On introspection, see the powerful statement in Arendt
'
s Rahel
Varnhagen: Lebensgeschichte einer Deutschen Judin aus der Romantik (Munich,
1959), especially Arendt's cogent comments in the
"
Forward
"
(notably 11-13); also HC
254ff. On process, see also
ibid., 207-208, 270; and BPF 62.
15. Cf., however,
ibid., 3:
"
My assumption is that thought itself arises out of in-
cidents of living experience and must remain bound to them as the only guideposts by
which to take its bearings."
16. Kant, Critique of Pure Reason,
B429.
17. Cf.
HC 230 on Descartes and the "persistent trend in modern philosophy" to be
"
exclusively concerned with the self.
"
See also Canovan, op. cit., 90-91 (philosophy
and modern science); and Kateb, op. cit., 145 (on the
"
self-absorption" of the concern
with self).
HANNAH ARENDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 197
s hould be correctly expres s ed by either cogito cogitationes or cogito
me cogitare, ergo sum [1.52])
18
cons titutes a fallacy (1.49) becaus e
all that is gained from the s tatement is an admis s ion that the thought
is real, the proces s of thinking remains incapable of proving its own
reality (cf.
HC,249, 371, n50). Upon deeper reflection, we are fur-
ther drawn to "the tacit as s umption that thought proces s es are in no
way different from common-s ens e reas oning" (1.51),
19
a therenes s
which "remains forever beyond [thinking' s ] gras p" (1.52).
T his identity of thinking and common s ens e, introduced by the
foundation of D es cartes ' method, reflects its elf clearly in modern s cience
The questions raised by thinking and which it is in reason's very nature to
raise-questions of meaning-are all unanswerable by common sense and the
refinement of it we call science. The quest for meaning is 'meaningless' to com-
mon sense....[I]t is [common sense's] function to fit us into a world of ap-
pearance and make us at home in the world given by our five senses; there we
are and no questions asked (1.58-59).
E 0
T here is an undeniable connection between reas on and intellect
thinking and knowing, but there are as well decis ive differences bet-
ween them in mood and purpos e. "Philos ophers have always been
tempted to accept the criterion of truth-s o valid for s cience and
everyday life-as applicable to their own rather extraordinary
bus ines s as well" (1.62).
T he coincidence of this theme emanating from D es cartes and the
attempt to liberate the thinking ego from the world of appearance
found in Kant' s philos ophy produces the ris e of the modern pro-
blem. By us hering in the age of s peculative thought, liberated from
the dogmatic purs uits of earlier philos ophy, Kant s ingularly occa-
s ioned the ris e of German Idealis m and its cons equent metaphys ical
18. See Rene Descartes, Discourses on the Method of Rightly Conducting the
Reason, and Seeking Truth in the Sciences, trans. John Veitch (LaSalle, Ill., 1952),
35-36 [Part IV]. Cf. HC 370, n.40.
19. In the sense of Aquinas' senses communis. See. 1.50.
20. See, however, OV 62:
"
Science is called upon to cure us of the side effects of
reason by manipulating and controlling our instincts, usually by finding harmless
outlets for them after their
'
life-promoting function
'
has disappeared."
198
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
s ys tems (1.63). T he confus ion of reas on and intellect, likewis e con-
fus ed meaning and knowing, producing both a return to the Carte-
s ian s olips is tic premis e (cf. Kateb, 145) and the las t wave of
metaphys ical fallacies , the wave which would ultimately put to res t
metaphys ics , and in its wake philos ophy, as major dimens ions of the
modern age.
21
Chapter 2 of volume 1 cons iders "mental A ctivities in a World of
A ppearances ." Having pos ited that thinking is not reflected in the
phenomenal world, and, further, that the ris e of idealis tic attempts
to effect s uch a placement produced only metaphys ical fallacies on
the s ubject of thinking' s relations hip to the s elf, A rendt proceeds to
unfold what, in her mind, cons titutes the proper pos itioning of the
thinking faculty. We are firs t told that thinking, willing, and judg-
ing-the three bas ic mental activities -"cannot be derived from
each other," that "while they have certain common characteris tics ,
they cannot be reduced to a common denominator" (1.69). R ather,
each is autonomous , obeying "the laws inherent in the activity
its elf" (1.70). T his autonomy, further, implies their being uncondi-
tioned; none of the conditions of either life or the world corres ponds
to them directly" (ibid.). Whereas "plurality is one of the bas ic ex-
is tential conditions of human life on earth,...[t]he mind can be s aid
to have a life of its own only to the extent that it actualizes " the
duality implicit in cons cious nes s -"to know with mys elf" (1.74).
2 2
T his s tate of being with mys elf is termed "s olitude" by A rendt
21. While the approaches of Fichte, Schelling, and Hegel, approaches made possi-
ble by Kant's "systematic metaphysics," both sought to lessen the distinction between
reason and intellect and were at variance with Kant's specific design, Kant himself was
partially subject to the same problem. Arendt notes the prevalence of the term
Ver-
nunfterkenntis
("knowledge arising out of pure reason") throughout the
Critiques.
Kant "could not part altogether with the conviction that the final aim of thinking, as of
knowledge, is truth and cognition" (1.63).
22. See Doff Sternberger, "The Sunken City: Hannah Arendt's Idea of Politics,"
Social Research 44 (1977), 136ff.; and Canovan, op.
cit., 52, on the distinction bet-
ween unity (or individuality) and plurality. On the distinction between public and
private which a concern for the individuality/plurality issue occasions, see Noel 0'
Sullivan, "Hannah Arendt: Hellenic Nostalgia and Industrial Society," in
Contem-
porary Political Philosophers, ed. Anthony de Crespigny and Kenneth Minogue (New
York, 1975); 247ff.; Elisabeth Young-Bruehl, "Hannah Arendt's Storytelling," Social
Research 44 (1977), 185; and Cooper, op. Cit., 155f.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 199
(ibid.)
.2 8
Solitude is a withdrawal from the plurality of appearance.
Such a withdrawal, however, is les s a withdrawal from the world as
it is a withdrawal "from the world' s being present to the s ens es "
(1.75). "Every mental act rests on the mind's faculty of having pre-
sent to itself what is absent from the senses" (1.75-76).
A rendt denies that there is a s trict hierarchy among the faculties
of thinking, willing, and judging, but pos its that an order or
priorities exis ts . T hinking fundamentally differs from willing and
judging by being the only mental faculty which addres s es generals
rather than particulars . A s s uch, "thinking, though unable to move
the will or provide judgment with general rules , mus t prepare the
particulars given to the s ens es in s uch a way that the mind is able to
handle them in their abs ence, in brief, de-sense
them" (1.75-77).
T hinking is a curious "out-df-time" mental exercis e.
2 4
T he very
withdrawal of thinking from the world of the s ens es places it at odds
with the human condition as that condition is experienced in
phenomenal life (1.78). It is not the world of the s ens es , however,
which requires this withdrawal, this s olitude. R ather, the s olitude is
freely chos en by philos ophers , the "profes s ional thinkers " (Kant' s
Denker von Gewerbe-1.3, 2.4), whos e pos ition vis -a-vis the world
of common s ens e has become s o problematic. T hinking "annihilates
temporal as well as s patial dis tances " (1.85).
2
' Since common s ens e
cons titutes the collective res erve of phenomenal experiences , and in
its more formalized reflection produces s cience, that mental activity
which withdraws from the phenomenal world likewis e is a
withdrawal from the world of common s ens e and s cience.
T hinking is "s urrounded not by s ens e-objects but by images that
are invis ible to everybody els e" (ibid.). One is aware of the "mind' s
faculties only s o long as the activity las ts ;" (1.88) there cannot
emerge, therefore, a concerted s tatement of the thinking proces s
23. Cf.,HC 67: "To be in solitude means to be with one's self, and thinking,
therefore, though it may be the most solitary of all activities, is never altogether
without a partner and without company.
"
Solitude is not loneliness. See 1.185; cf. OT
467f.'; BPF 115; and Young-Bruel, op. cit.,
188.
24. 1,85: "Thinking is `out of order' not merely because it stops all other activities so
necessary for the business of living and staying alive, but because it inverts all ordinary
relationships: what is near and appears directly to our senses in now far away and
what is distant is actually present."
25. Arendt immediately qualifies this statement even further-"not only distances
but also time and space themselves are abolished in the process" (1.86).
200
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
which can be s ucces s fully projected upon common s ens e, becaus e in
the very proces s , one has returned to the very world from which
thinking has withdrawn. A t that moment, thinking ceas es , A ll at-
tempts to project a knowledge of the thinking activity are undercut
by the s imple fact that one is no longer thinking.
2 e
It is this inability
which produces the "warfare between thought and common s ens e,"
the former being an activity apart from the s patial and temporal
cons traints of phenomenal life, the latter incapable of entertaining
s uch a withdrawal.
27
Faced with s uch a s ituation, there emerges a temptation to pro-
vide thinking with the s ame foundation of knowing accorded the in-
tellect and its goal-cognition. R eas on becomes trans formed into in-
tellect. T he metaphys ical difficulties of conveying thinking in
s patial and temporal terms unfold, and with them, the principal
metaphys ical fallacy of the modern age. For that which, of its very
nature, admits of no s patial or temporal dis tance, cannot be ac-
tualized without radically s kewing it altogether. Hegel, who s ought,
more than any other modern thinker, to provide thinking with the
s ame firm s ens e-perception foundation as common s ens e, proceeded
to commit the very metaphys ical error A rendt couns els agains t (s ee
1.89-91).
He attempted to trans form philos ophy into s cience
(1.91).
2 8
A s imilar s ituation confronts the relations hip between thought
26.Cf.
HC79: "Thinking, however, which is presumably the activity of the head,
though it is in some way like laboring-also a process which probably comes to an end
only with life itself-is even less `productive' than labor; if labor leaves no permanent
trace, thinking leaves nothing tangible at all. By itself, thinking never materializes into
any objects.
Whenever the intellectual worker wishes to manifest his thoughts, he must
use his hands and acquire manual skills just like any other worker. In other words,
thinking and working are two different activities which never quite coincide; the
thinker who wants the world to know the `content' of his thoughts must first of all stop
thinking and remember his thoughts."
27. It is in this sense that the withdrawal of thinking has a likeness to the "ejection"
of the animal laborans from the world. See ibid.,
103.
28. Curiously, Arendt maintains that, while thinking is placed in conflict with
common sense, willing and judging are not-they deal with "particulars," having "an
established home in the appearing world" (1.92). They are still, however, "dependent
on thought's preliminary reflection upon their objects" (ibid.,). This very
"dependence," is likewise a dependence on thought-images rather than phenomenal
objects. May not, therefore, the prior position of thinking to both willing and judging
produce a revision of one's regard for the object, thereby producing a conception of the
object which places either willing or judging at variance with common sense?
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S
LIFE OF THE MIND 201
and action.
2 9
T he s pectator (one who withdraws from the
phenomenal world) may "unders tand the `truth' of what the s pec-
tacle is about;" but the price one has to pay by s o doing is
"withdrawal from participating in it" (1.93) .
30
It is "not through ac-
ting but through contemplating
31
that the `s omething els e,' namely,
the meaning of the whole, is revealed. T he s pectator, not the actor,
holds the clue to the meaning of human affairs " (1.96).
But if it is the s pectator, rather than the s pectacle or the actor,
who conveys meaning, upon what bas is is the proces s of viewing ac-
tion to be predicated? Stated s imply, what is the proper region of
mental activity? Withdrawal neces s arily implies a withdrawal to
s omewhere. Yet it is precis ely this "direction" of thinking which,
as ide from whatever ins ight is derived about phys ical action,
precludes a coincidence of mental activity and the s pectacle to
which it is addres s ed. T o attempt an as s imilation of s pectator and
s pectacle, of thinking and doing, however, is to bring forth the con-
tention that thinking s hould in s ome way addres s cogni-
tion-truth-rather than the purpos e of thinking-to arrive at
meaning. Once a coincidence between thinking and doing is enter-
tained, once meaning is confus ed with truth, the way is open to the
metaphys ical abys s us hered in by Hegel' s "philos ophy as s cience."
32
T he difficulty experienced in equating the life of the mind with
the life of the s ens es is clearly demons trated by language. (cf. HC
81-82; Kateb 156f) "Mental activities , invis ible thems elves and oc-
cupied with the invis ible, become manifes t only through s peech"
(1.98). Words convey meaning. T here is , therefore, certainly a
res emblance between s peech and thought (1.99). Speech gives ac-
count; it appropriates and dis alienates the world (1.100).
D es pite this connection between s peaking and thinking, s peech
29. Part II of volume 1 (Thinking and Doing: The Spectator") comprises the only
specific treatment of this relationship in the volume. This distinction is interesting from
the standpoint of what it does not include within the discussion-the entire range of
political action which had so animated Arendt's previous works.
30. Cf. Arendt's comments on Gotthold Lessing's "retreat into thought and its rela-
tionship to freedom and action." MD 9ff.
31.
That is, "looking upon something from the outside, from a position implying a
view that is hidden from those who take part in the spectacle and actualize it" (1.93).
32.
One must recognize that Hegelian premises on this subject, once accepted, may
well produce a concerted movement toward the belief that thought is a process of do-
ing. Giovanni Gentile's
The Theory of Mind as Pure Act is, after all, founded upon pa-
tent Hegelian premises.
202 T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
has a bas ic deficiency. "N o language has a ready-made vocabulary
for the needs of mental activity; they all borrow their vocabulary
from words originally meant to corres pond either to s ens e ex-
perience or to other experiences of everyday life" (1.102). Language
is meant to convey abs tractions bas ed up concepts or examples
garnered from the world of common s ens e (1.103).
T he metaphor becomes the primary vehicle for all philos ophical
terms (1.104). T he metaphor bridges "the abys s between inward
and invis ible mental activities and the world of
appearances ..."(1.105)
33
"Speaking and thinking s pring from the
s ame s ource," (1.109), yet becaus e of the appearance-bas ed develop-
ment of language, any attempt to communicate thought through
s peech remains problematic.
34
Both bring the "not-vis ible" into the
realm of appearances . Metaphor is s ingularly capable of effecting
s uch a trans formation. Metaphor, however, in its very application,
"indicates in its own manner the abs olute primacy of the world of
appearances and this provides additional evidence of the extraor-
dinary quality of thinking, of its being always out of order" (ibid.).
T hinking, therefore, when cons idered as the s ource of communica-
tions about ideas , is never totally apart from the world of ap-
pearance, s ince when one choos es to expres s what it is that thinking
thinks , one can do s o in no other way than through metaphor-and
metaphor immediately draws the thinking activity back into prox-
i mity with appearance.
Language is "the only medium in which the invis ible can become
manifes t in the world of appearance," but "is by no means as ade-
33. The metaphor, however, "is poetic rather than philosophical in origin" (1.105).
In a purely applicative mode, therefore, we have the basis for the competition between
philosophy and poetry, and, at the same time, the corresponding identity in the images
and expressions conveyed by both. Cf. OV 26-27; MDT 166; HC 82 (metaphor and life
process), 85 (Platonic metaphor); and OR 43, 102 (metaphor and revolution). See also
Eric Heller,
"
Hannah Arendt as a Critic of Literature,
"
Social Research 44 (1977),
57-59.
34.
This is not the case with ideology: "The tremendous power of persuasion in-
herent in the main ideologies of our time is not accidental. Persuasion is not possible
without appeal to either experiences or desires, in other words to immediate political
needs....Every full fledged ideology has been created, continued and improved as a
political weapon and not as a theoretical doctrine" (OT 159). Ideology "is the logic of
an idea." Ibid., 469. See also
ibid., 468 (the scientific notion of ideology), 470-471. Cf.
BPF 93: "Authority...is incompatible with persuasion....Where arguments are used,
authority is left in abeyance."
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
203
quate for that function as our s ens es are for their bus ines s of coping
with the perceptible world..."
(1.112). Metaphor s tands as the only
cure to this defect of s peech
(ibid.)
.36
E ven with metaphor, however,
there exis ts a thrus ting of appearances upon the thinking ego. Or
more precis ely, once the res ult of thinking is communicated, it is cir-
cums cribed by the appearances of the phenomenal world into which
it is thrus t.
Metaphorical s peech is circular-without either pro-
viding an adequate appearance upon the mind or an adequate pro-
jection of the mind' s activity upon appearance. Metaphor, as
s peech, s eeks an indentification of its elf with s ome end outs ide of
its elf. "T hinking is out of order becaus e the ques t for meaning pro-
duces no end res ult that will s urvive the activity, that which makes
s ens e after the activity has come to an end" (1.123).
T hinking, thus ,
when it is expres s ed, is an attempt to expres s the ineffable.
A rendt has laid the foundation in the firs t two chapters of volume
1 for the bas ic ques tion "What makes us think?" N ot "Why we
think," but "What makes us think," is the title of chapter 3, com-
pris ing parts 14 through 18. N ow two obs ervations mus t be made at
this point. T he firs t concerns the fact that A rendt has exchanged
"what" for "why." T hinking is not to be regarded in terms of objec-
tives ,
but in terms of obligations . Much as one cannot dis cus s
A ris totelian caus ality without likewis e dis cus s ing the concepts of ef-
ficiency and finality, however, we are led to expect that a cons idera-
tion of the "what" will als o produce a concomitant concern with the
"why
"36
Secondly, we wonder what has become of the central ques tion of
the volume-which is neither expres s ed by "what" or "why" but by
35. Arendt's distinction between metaphors of sight and metaphors of hearing need
not concern us here, although her application of such metaphors to Jewish tradition, in
which hearing is claimed to be preponderant, is difficult to justify. The implication,
however, is clearly brought into focus: "The chief difficulty...for thinking
itself-whose language is entirely metaphorical, which bridges the gulf between the
visible and the invisible, the world of appearance and the thinking ego-[is that] there
exists no metaphor that could plausibly illuminate the special activity of the mind, in
which something invisible within us deals with the invisible of the world. All
metaphors drawn from the senses are essentially cognitive,... if understood as activities,
[our senses] have an end outside themselves..."
(1.123-italics added).
36. Arendt says as much in the last lines of chapter 2 (1.125). See also 1.136: "...the
immortal and divine part within man does not exist unless it is actualized and focused
on the divine outside; in other words, the
object
of our thoughts bestows immortality
on thinking itself."
204 THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
"where," that is , "Where are we when we think?" Since this is , in
fact, the title of the fourth and final chapter of volume 1 (parts 19
and 20), we as s ume that the proper pos itioning of thinking is con-
tingent in s ome way upon the obligations placed upon thinking-in
other words , until we come to unders tand the neces s ity inherent in
thinking we s hall be unable to as certain its pos ition.
Four s pecific ans wers are provided to the ques tion "What makes
us think?"-each from the clas s ical world, with one part of the
chapter being devoted to each: (1) the pre-philos ophical as s ump-
tions of Greek philos ophy; (2) Plato' s ans wer; (3) the R oman
ans wer; and (4) the ans wer of Socrates . T hes e four parts compris e a
clear as cent, if not one which is s trictly diachronic, certainly one
which is thematic.
T he pre-philos ophic as s umptions of Greek philos ophy s urrounded
the relations hip of man to the gods . It was , however, becaus e the
gods , while deathles s , were not eternal (1.134), that "Being, birth-
les s as well as deathles s , replaced for the philos ophers the mere
deathles s nes s of the Olympian gods " (1.135). Philos ophy became the
achievement of immortality (cf. OV 68) which operated in two
s tages - "contemplation of the everlas ting" and "the attempt to
trans late the vis ion into words " (1.137). T hinking, in the early
Greek s ens e, was introduced to fill the deficiencies of religious
piety.
37
Plato, however, s aw the "origin of philos ophy [as ]
Wonder"
(1.141).
38
"What s ets men wondering is s omething familiar and yet
normally invis ible, and s omething men are forced to admire. T he
wonder that is the s tarting-point of thinking is neither puzzlement
nor s urpris e nor perplexity; it is an admiring wonder" (1.143). T his
wonder, further, is not a "concern with particulars but is always
arous ed by the whole..." (1.144) .
30
For Plato, thinking is occas ioned
by the awe which compels one to direct one' s mind toward the im-
mortal ground of Being.
T he R oman ans wer involves the aris ing of thinking "out of the
37.
"If Being replaced the Olympian gods, then philosophy replaced religion.
Philosophy became the only possible `way' of piety..." (1.135).
38. As Arendt adds-"an answer which in my opinion has lost nothing of its
plausability" (1.141). On wonder, see BPF 214-215.
39. It is the wonder why there is anything at all rather than nothing which Heideg-
ger calls "the basic question of metaphysics" in concluding "What is Metaphysics?" See
1.124 and 1.145.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
205
dis integration of reality and the res ulting dis unity of the man and
world, from which s prings the need for another world, more har-
monious and more meaningful" (1.153). N ow it was the R omans
who "dis covered" common s ens e. It was als o the R oman experience
which produced the "radical withdrawal from reality" demanded
by E pictetus (1.155). T he s eeds of the trans formation of "thinking-
as -wonder" to "thinking-as -s ens e" is not to be found, A rendt con-
tends , until its "expres s ion in conceptual language" beginning with
Lucretius and Cicero. T hey "trans formed Greek philos ophy into
s omething es s entially R oman-which meant, among other things ,
s omething es s entially practical" (1.153-154).
"If thinking is normally the faculty of making pres ent what is ab-
s ent," E pictetus ' "faculty of dealing with impres s ions aright cons is ts
in conjuring away and making abs ent what actually is pres ent"
(1.153)
.40
If wonder was the hallmark of Plato' s ans wer to "What makes us
think?", fear is the hallmark of the R oman ans wer-epitomized in
the radical dis mis s al of reality contained in E pictetian philos ophy.
T hes e two s ources "are different to the point of being oppos ites . On
the one hand, admiring wonder at the s pectacle in which man is
born and for whos e appreciation he is so
well equipped in mind and
body; on the other, the awful extremity of having been thrown into
a world whos e hos tility is overwhelming, where fear is predominant
and from which man tries his utmos t to es cape" (1.162). T here is ,
however, a common connection between thes e two apparent op-
pos ites . E ach pos its a thinking ego which "leaves the world of ap-
pearances . Only becaus e thinking implies withdrawal can it be us ed
as an ins trument of es cape" (ibid.).
It is the ans wer pers onified by the life of Socrates , however,
which conveys the mos t important clas s ical ans wer for A rendt. It is
only at this point that A rendt leaves the general tenor of the
preceding dis cus s ion-that is , the s tatement of a particular res olu-
tion of the "what makes us think" ques tion-to cons ider a model of
the thinking man (1.167). T he model is Socrates , the thinking man
par excellence, but not a profes s ional thinker (not a philos opher, in
40. Arendt, somewhat tongue-in-cheek, questions the possibility of such a total
dismissing of reality: "I still doubt that there ever was anybody who remained master
of his `impressions' when roasted in the Phalarian Bull" (1.157).
206 T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
other words , who fits Kant' s definition).
41
"Socrates , gadfly, midwife, electric ray, is not a philos opher (he
teaches nothing and has nothing to teach) and he is not a s ophis t, for
he does not claim to make men wis e. He only points out to them that
they are not wis e..." (1.173;
cf. CR 62). T he three s imiles -gadfly,
midwife, and electric ray-are all applied to Socrates , as readers of
Plato' s dialogues well know, in the cours e of his dialectical dis cus -
s ions with others (the former two are applied to Socrates by Socrates
hims elf). T hey are indicative of the three bas ic dimens ions of his
method-to s ting others from s lumber; to bring about thinking in
others ; and to remain s teadfas t, paralyzed, by the perplexities of the
thinking proces s .
T hinking, as pers onified by Socrates ' life, is indis tinguis hable
from the neces s ary condition of being fully alive. "T hinking accom-
panies living and concerns its elf with the concepts of life as they are
expres s ed in language" (1.178). It is in the figure of Socrates that we
have the collis ion of two dis tinct thematic elements found in the firs t
volume of The Life of the Mind. Firs t, the cons ideration of thinking
as it relates to the world of appearance, the relations hip between
thinking and doing, the function of s peech, and es pecially
metaphor,
42
and the ineffability of the thinking activity all compris e
components of the Socratic figure. Socrates , when viewed in this
pers pective, is the quintes s ential pers onification of the
"
appearance
"
of thought. His way of life provides us with the pers onified res pons e
to the volume' s initial ques tion-"What does it mean to think?"
"T he meaning of what Socrates was doing lay in the activity its elf"
(ibid.).
Second, the ques tion "What makes us think?", which cons titutes
the s haft with which the entire third chapter of volume 1 is trans -
fixed, becomes , with Socrates , the coincidence of "what" with the
unders tanding of "why." One thinks becaus e one lives -to think is
41. Arendt notes the difficulty of coming to grips with the historical Socrates, a
man who left no written legacy, and is known to us primarily through the dialogues of
Plato and Xenophon. She chooses, however, to "ignore" the "great deal of
controversy...of learned contention" (1.168).
42. The three similes ascribed to Socrates are, after all, metaphorical. Socrates is to
be distinguished from others in the history of thought, we seem obliged to conclude
from the manner in which Arendt treats him, because he is the personification of the
metaphorical function. Socrates is both the model of the thinking man and the very
embodiment of the vehicle whereby the results of thinking are expressed.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S
LIFE OF THE MIND 207
to live truly. In addres s ing the ques tion "What makes us think?",
A rendt, in Socrates , has found the ans wer to the ques tion "Why do
we think?" as well.
T he chapter concludes with a cons ideration of the duality of the
thinking proces s and the unity whereby that duality is expres s ed.
T he gravamen of A rendt' s argument here is expres s ed in the follow-
ing pas s age:
What is...transferred..is the experience of the thinking ego to things themselves.
For nothing can be itself and at the same time for itself but the two-in-one that
Socrates discovered as the essence of thought and Plato translated into concep-
tual language as the soundless dialogue eme emauta--between me and
myself" (1.185)." .
It is not, however, "the thinking activity that cons titute the unity,
unifies the two-in-one; on the contrary, the two-in-one becomes One
again when the outs ide world intrudes upon the thinker..." (ibid.)
44
T his intrus ion collaps es the two-in-one-the dis tinction between the
thinking ego ("out of order" thinking) and the exis tential ego (the
"in order" being)-into the One of exis tence in the phenomenal
world, where the individual is made aware of the radical unity of
exis tence vis -a-vis other exis ting objects and pers ons . T he very act of
being a s pectator in the world of appearances makes the individual
cons cious of his being apart from that world. Cons cious nes s ,
however,
is not the same thing as thinking; acts of consciousness have in common with
sense experiences the fact that they are 'intentional' and therefore cognitive acts,
whereas the thinking ego does not think something but about something, and
this act is dialectical: it proceeds in the form of a silent dialogue" (1.187).
Cons cious nes s is als o not coterminous with cons cience for A rendt.
Cons cience, "before it became the lumen naturale of Kant' s prac-
tical reas on,-was the voice of God" (1.190). Cons cious nes s is the
actuality of the duality with thought, producing "cons cience as a
by-product" (1.193). "T he manifes tation of the wind of thought is
43. See the Socrates/Hippias example mentioned at the outset of this paper.
44. "It is the duality of myself with myself that makes thinking a true activity, in
which I am both the one who asks and the one who answers" (1.185). It is in this sense,
I would suggest, that one can entertain the notion that The Life of the Mind comprises
Arendt's dialogues with herself. Cf. OR 98-99; BPF 158; and Canovan, op. cit., 3.
208
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
not knowledge; it is the ability to tell right from wrong, beautiful
from ugly.
45
A nd this , at the rare moments when the s takes are on
the table, may indeed prevent catas trophes , at leas t for the s elf"
(ibid.) .
46
T he final chapter of volume 1, encompas s ing parts 19 and
20, is
directed at the ques tion "Where
,
are we when we think?" What
becomes meaningful during thinking "are dis tillations , products of
de-s ens ing" (1.199)-that is , es s ence. T hes e "es s ences cannot be
localized. Human thought that gets hold of them leaves the world of
the particular and goes out in s earch of s omething generally
mean-
ing ful... " (ibid.).
T hinking, therefore, cannot be s patially located,
and while A rendt has already informed us that thinking is not tem-
porally limited either, we are now provided with the thinking ego as
that which exhibits the "gap between pas t and future...only in
reflection"
(1.206).
47
A rendt s ugges ts a "time metaphor" to explain the pos ition of
thinking-one which compris es a diagonal line s tretching from the
pres ent toward the infinite
(1.208). T he origin of the line is found in
45.
It is a collapse in thinking, and a corollary collapse in the ability to distinguish
good from evil, which comprises the bedrock of the "banality of evil" with which
Eichmann in Jerusalem,
Rep. Ed. (New York, 1964) is sub-titled. Much of the work
concerns Eichmann's inability to remember and the corresponding condition of his
conscience. It was the collapse of thinking that was so well testified to in Himmler's
slogan coined for the S.S. (derived from a speech by Hitler to the S.S. in 1931): "My
Honor is my Loyalty" (see
ibid., 105; OT 324-325, n. 38). Cf.
Himmler's definition of
"the S.S. member as a new type of man who under no circumstances will ever do 'a
thing for its own sake."' See
ibid., 322, also 322-323, n. 33. It was, likewise, a collapse
in thinking, and the corresponding concern with the conscience, that allowed
Eichmann to respond "Not quilty in the sense of the indictment" to each of the charges
brought against him in Jerusalem. See
Eichmann, 21. Cf., however, Kateb, op.
cit.,,
164f., 170-171. See also 1.4-5, 1.177; and MDT 18ff.
46.
As Arendt observes in CR, however, "arguments raised in defense of individual
conscience or individual acts, that is, moral imperatives and appeals to a `higher law,'
be it secular or transcendent, are inadequate when applied to civil disobedience." CR
56-57. Cf. also, ibid., 60, 62 (where it is states that
"
the counsels of conscience are not
only unpolitical, they are always expressed in purely subjective statements.
"
), and 64
(
"
The rules of conscience hinge on interest in the self.").
Cf. OT 462-463-the iden-
tification of man and law has nothing to do with conscience. See also Kateb,
op. cit.,
162.
47.
The point of departure for this discussion is Kafka's parable of the two an-
tagonists of HE-one pressing from behind, the other limiting the road ahead
( Gesam-
melte Schriften
[New York, 1946], V, 287). Cf. BPF 7-8, 10-13.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
209
the inters ection of pas t and future in the pres ent.
48
T hought provides
for the awarenes s of pas t and future, and at the s ame time makes one
aware of the former' s infinite regres s ion and the latter' s infinite pro-
gres s ion. T he es s ential common point for all three-thinking, pas t,
and future-is the pres ent, to which the pas t proceeds , from which
the future departs , and agains t which thinking withdraws .
49
T here
is , however, a s econd inters ection of all three-infinity-admitting
by its very conceptualization an inters ection which admits of neither
s patial nor temporal cons traints .
N onetheles s , this figure is a metaphor and, as s uch, s hares the
s ame inadequacies in explaining the ineffable as metaphor in
general. T hought can be given a "temporal" dimens ion only through
metaphor. However, "each new generation, every new human be-
ing, as he becomes cons cious of being ins erted between an infinite
pas t and an infinite future, mus t dis cover and ploddingly pave anew
the path of thought" (1.210).
6
By as cribing pas t and future
"
as
directed, as it were, at thems elves -as their predeces s ors and s uc-
ces s ors ." great works of the mind es tablis h "a pres ent for thems elves ,
a kind of timeles s time..." (1.211). T his metaphorical "timeles s
time" is where we are when we are thinking. T o prove its exis tence is
as likely to be s ucces s ful as the correct projection of the thinking ego
upon the plane of the phenomenal world.
II.
T he s econd volume of
The Life of the Mind
cons iders the faculty
of willing. Unlike thinking, which has been recognized almos t from
the beginning, willing is , according to A rendt, a later concept.
61
48. T his s ame "parallelogram of forces " is employed at BPF 12. See als o ibid., 75.
49. On the "commonality of the pres ent" in the contemporary world, s ee MD T 83,
See als o ibid., 85, on the implications of univers al communication occas ioned by this
s ituation.
50. T he pres ences of a pas t and a future als o cons train human proclivities for
change through action. See CR 78-79.
51. In the "Introduction" to volume 2, A rendt s tates : "T he faculty of the Will was
unknown to Greek antiquity and was dis covered as a res ult of experiences about which
we hear next to nothing before the firs t century of the Chris tian era" (2.3). A rendt ac-
cepts the notion that the Will "was indeed ' dis covered' and can be dated. In brief, I
s hall analyze the Will in terms of its his tory, and this in its elf has its difficulties " (2.5).
If willing was "dis covered" later that the recognition of thinking, judging was
"dis covered" later s till-by Kant. See 2 .12 9-130.
210
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
R ather than a cons ideration of the mental faculty' s domain, the
manner whereby thinking had been addres s ed, volume 2 proceeds in
terms of how willing has been regarded by philos ophers . T his ap-
proach is explained by the fact that willing, as an independent facul-
ty, was the cons truction of the very proces s es of philos ophy from the
medieval age forward. It is "dis covered," therefore, in terms of how
philos ophers have addres s ed it.
T he Will "is as obvious ly our mental organ for the future as
memory
62
is our
mental organ for the pas t" (2.13). Willing,
however, while it s hares with thinking the ability to produce things
in the mind which are abs ent to the s ens es , has another dimen-
s ion-it cons iders things , "vis ible and invis ible," which are not
s imply abs ent from the s ens es , but which "have never exis ted at all"
(ibid.).
Once "we turn our mind to the future, we are no longer con-
cerned with `objects ' but with
projects...
"
(2.13-14)
(cf. Kateb 153).
T he connection between willing and doing is much more emphatic
than the relations hip between thinking and doing.
63
A dditionally, the rise in
the recognition of the Will parallels a ris e
in the recognition of freedom as a concept to be articulated. "A will
that is not free is a
contradiction in terms -unles s one unders tands
the faculty of volition as a mere auxiliary executive organ for
whatever either des ire or reas on had propos ed" (2.14). So long as
reality is viewed as having been preceded by a potentiality, the
future is nothing but a cons equence of the pas t..." (2.15). T he Will,
therefore, had to await the ris e in the belief of time as linear, the ris e
in the belief that man in addres s ing projects in the future rather than
objects , cons titutes the freely acting beginning of s uch projects
(cf.
CR 5-6).
T he difficulty in articulating the relations hip between the Will
and freedom in the pre-Chris tian era is that "whatever may be the
merits of pos t-antiquity as s umptions about the location of human
52. On memory, see 1.85, 1.156; also HC 149; and BPF 43.
53.
See BPF 9 (where the
"
metaphorical approximation
"
of the mind in the twen-
tieth century revolves in full circle-first "an escape from thought into action, and
then again when action, or rather having acted, forced [one] back into thought."), and
25 ("Our
tradition of political thought began when Plato discovered that it is somehow
inherent in
the philosophical experience to turn away from the common world of
human affairs; it ended when nothing was left of this experience but the opposition of
thinking and acting, which, depriving thought of reality and action of sense, makes
both meaningless.").
Cf. Vollrath, op. cit., 167; and Nelson,
op. cit., 292.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
211
freedom in the I-will, it is certain that in the frame of pre-Chris tian
thought freedom was located in the I-can; freedom was an objective
s tate of the body, not a datum of cons cious nes s or of the mind"
(2.19) (cf.
BPF 158-159. 165).
It is the medieval age of thought to which one mus t turn to find
the recognition of the faculty of willing. It is , however, the Will in
the modern age of philos ophy which is addres s ed for the remainder
of chapter 1 in volume
2. Before proceeding to a concerted dis cus -
s ion of the Will as it is reflected in the period which gave ris e to the
recognition of the concept, A rendt directs our attention to the very
clos ing period of modern philos ophy, in which the faculty of willing
is
met with s evere metaphys ical ques tions .
While one might expect the modern age to exhibit a great concern
for the Will, owing to the notion of progres s (2.19)
54
which likewis e
addres s es the future, "it was not until the las t s tage of the modern
age that the Will began to be s ubs tituted for R eas on as man' s highes t
mental faculty" (2.20) . A fter Kant, "it became fas hionable to equate
Willing and Being" (ibid.).
Still, this concern with the Will is hardly
s hared by all in this later period. While it is true that the likes of
Schiller, Schopenhauer, and Hegel, provided a pre-eminence to the
Will unlike that s een in Kant, the difficulty of equating willing and
freedom pers is ted, until it reached its final expres s ion in N ietzs che' s
philos ophy-which centered upon the "Will to Power," and
"tes tif[ied] to an outs poken hos tility toward the theory of `freedom
of the Will' ..." (2.20-21).
T hree main objections to the Will s urfaced in pos t-medieval
philos ophy: (1)
,
the "dis belief in the very exis tence of the faculty"
(2.23); (2)
the dis trus t of the Will-occas ioned by its "connection
with freedom" (2.26); and (3)
the "curs e of contingency" (2.27)
which human affairs exhibits and, by implication, is exhibited by
willing. Skewed of a relations hip with everlas ting Being, as had
been experienced in the clas s ical age, and s ubject to the advancing
s ecularization of the modern age,
(cf. BPF, 69) thereby being
54, Cf.
OV 25-31, and 86; "The progresses made by science have nothing to do
with the I-will; they follow their own inexorable laws, compelling us to do whatever
we can, regardless of consequences. Have the I-will and the I-can parted company?"
See also BPF 96: "Generally speaking, it has been quite typical of liberal theorists to
start from the assumption that `the contrary of progress...in the direction of organized
and assured freedom is the characteristic fact of modern history..."' [citing Lord Ac-
ton's "Inaugural Lecture of the `Study of History"']. See also ibid., 97.
212
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
s evered from the s olace of the divine providence which had
animated the medieval period, "men of thought [were expos ed] to
the contingency of all things human more radically and more mer-
cilous ly than ever before" (2 .2 8).
55
T he denial of Will' s exis tence,
the denial of its freedom, and the contingent manner in which it is
expos ed (one can will not to will) produced a tens ion between the
application of willing and the exis tence of thinldng.
The clash here is between two
mental faculties that seem unable to co-exist.
When we form a volition, that is, when we focus our attention on some future
project, we have no less withdrawn from the world of appearances than when
we are following a train of thought. Thinking and willing are antagonists only
insofar as they affect our psychic states; both, it is true, make present to our
mind what is actually absent, but thinking draws into its enduring present what
either is or at least has been, whereas willing, stretching out into the future,
moves in a region where no such certainties exist (2.35).
"N ot the future as s uch but the future as the Will' s project (s ee
Kateb 153)
negates the given" (2.36). T he Will, as N ietzs che
reminds us , "cannot will backwards " (s ee 2.140, 2.168-169). Its
focus s tretches into the future, while the focus of thinking s tretches
into the pas t.
60
Since "the will always wills to
do s omething," it "im-
plicitly holds in contempt s heer thinking, whos e whole activity
depends on `doing nothing (2.37).5
7
T here emerges an oppos ition
in what A rendt calls the "`tonality' of mental activities "
(ibid.).
Since "the willing ego look[s ] forward and not backward, [it] deal[s ]
with things which are in our power but whos e accomplis hment is by
no means certain" (2.37-38). T he tonality of willing is tens ion,
S
"
whereas the tonality of thinking is s erenity (2.38). "T he tens ion can,
55. Cf. CR 12, See also Nelson, op. cit., 282ff.
56. Cf., however, CR 11-12: "The historian, as well as the politician, deals with
human affairs that owe their existence to man's capacity for action, and the means to
man's relative freedom from things as they are. Men who act, to the extent that they
feel themselves to be the masters of their own future, will forever be tempted to make
themselves masters of the past, too."
57. Cf.,
however, BPF 152:
"
Action insofar as it is free is neither under the
guidance of the intellect nor under the dictate of the will-although it needs both for
the execution of any particular goal-but springs from something altogether different
which (following Montesquieu's famous analysis of forms of government) I shall call
principle."
58. See HC 197 of the
"
exasperation
"
produced by the
"
frustration
"
of activity. See
also Canovan, op. cit., 64-65.
HANNAH ARENDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 213
be overcome only by doing, that is , by giving up the mental activity
altogether;
59
a s witch from willing to thinking, produces no more
than a temporary paralys is of the will, jus t as a s witch from willing
to thinking, produces no more than a temporary paralys is of the
will, jus t as a s witch from thinking to willing is felt by the thinking
ego to be a temporary paralys is of the thinking activity" (ibid.)
60
A rendt turns to Hegel, whos e treatment of the willing ego' s clas h
with the thinking ego knows no equivalent in the his tory of thought
(2.39). A rendt cons iders Hegel' s dis cus s ion of time to be the es s ential
foundation of his approach to the clas h between thinking and will-
ing.
81
"`T ime finds its truth in the future s ince it is the future that
will finis h and accomplis h Being. But Being, finis hed and ac-
complis hed, belongs as s uch to the Pas t.' T his revers al of the or-
dinary time s equence-pas t-pres ent-future-is caus ed by man' s de-
nying his pres ent: `he s ays no to his N ow' and thus creates his own
future" (2 .41).
82
T he coincidence of willing and thinking occurs in
the anticipation of death, in which "the will' s projects take on the
appearance of an anticipated pas t and as s uch can become the object
of reflection..." (2 .43.).
3
T his "anticipated pas t" leads one to cons ider Hegel' s "s equential
his tory of philos ophy," which, A rendt argues , "actually broke with
the tradition [of philos ophy], becaus e [Hegel] was the firs t great
thinker to take his tory s erious ly, that is , as yielding truth" (2.45). If
"World History"
thus becomes "a s ingle s ucces s ion of events whos e
eventual outcome would be the moment when the `Spiritual
59. Change is intended by the very "tonality of willing." "Change is constant, in-
herent in the human condition" (CR 78). Arendt adds, however, that "the velocity of
change is not." Ibid.
60. Cf. BPF 162-163. See also OT 502-503, n.18, where Arendt suggests that ter-
rorism also "paralyzes and sterilizes thought even more effectively than action. If one
does not mind risking one's life, it is easier to act than to think under conditions of ter-
ror. And the spell cast by terror over man's mind can be broken only by freedom, not
by mere thought."
61. Despite that fact that "Hegel does not mention the Will in this context, nor does
Koyre,...it seems obvious...that the faculty behind the Mind's negation is not thinking,
but willing, and that Hegel's description of experienced human time relates to the time
sequence approach of the willing ego" (2.41). Koyre refers to Alexandre Koyre's Hegel
a
Lena Paris, 1934-included in Etudes d'Histoire de la Pensee Philosophique [Paris,
1961], upon which much of Arendt's analysis is founded.
62. Internal quotations are from Koyre,
op. cit., 77 and 185, note.
63.
2.44: "That there exists such a thing as the Life of the mind is due to the mind's
organ for the future and its resulting 'restlessness'; that there exists such a thing as the
life of the Mind is
due to death, which, foreseen as an absolute end, halts the will and
transforms the future into an anticipated past, the will's projects into objects of
thought, and the soul's expectation into an anticipated remembrance."
214
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
Kingdom...manifes ts its elf in outward exis tence,' becomes
'
em-
bodied' in `s ecular life,'
B4
then the cours e of his tory would no longer
be haphazard and the realm of human affairs no longer devoid of
meaning" (2.46). T his "Spiritual Kingdom" is identified with the
"Kingdom of the Will" (ibid.). Precis ely becaus e Hegel denied the
ability of time to be arres ted, however, the objective truth of his ap-
proach could be entertained "only on condition that his tory were
factually at an end, that mankind had no future..." (2 .47).
05
T his apparent oppos ition of the willing faculty to the very prov-
ince of willing, which Hegel certainly s eems to be authoring, would
not, according to A rendt, have been accepted by Hegel. A ll too
briefly (2.48-51), A rendt puts forth the idea that what Hegel intend-
ed was a combination of the cyclical nature of thinking' s approach
to time and the rectilinear nature of willing' s approach to time. T he
res ulting "s piral is grounded on the experience of neither the think-
ing ego nor the willing ego; it is the non-experienced movement of
the World Spirit that cons titutes Hegel' s
Geisterreich....No doubt
this is a mos t ingenious s olution of the problem of the Will and its
reconciliation with s heer thought, but it is won at the expens e of
both-the thinking ego' s ins is tence on the primacy of an enduring
pres ent and the willing ego' s ins is tence on the primacy of the future.
In other words , it is no more than a hypothes is " (2.48).
Still this hypothes is has no rival in the attempt to integrate willing
and thinking. A t the clos e of chapter 1, A rendt pres ents her opinion
of the bas is of both Hegel' s "s piral s olution" and the deficiencies it
contains -"his never-ques tioned as s umption that the dialectical
proces s its elf starts from Being....T he initial Being lends all further
trans itions their reality" (2.50). It is to the relations hip of Being and
the mental faculties , as might be `expected from prior comments on
the s ubject in the firs t chapter, that A rendt will return in the final
chapter of volume 2.
T he s econd chapter of volume
2, encompas s ing parts 7 through
10, begins with a dis cus s ion of proairesis,
the faculty of choice, coin-
ed, A rendt as s erts , by A ris totle to indicate "preference between
alternatives " (2.60). T his cons titutes a "forerunner" of the concept
64. Internal quotations are from Hegel's
The Philosophy of History (Sibree transla-
tion [New York, 1956], 442).
65. Cf.
the pursuit of an "Archimedian point" discussed in HC 234ff. See also
Canovan, op. cit., 10.
HANNAH ARENDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 215
of willing, which, as A rendt has obs erved, was totally lacking in
Greek philos ophy. T he s econd chapter ends with a dis cus s ion of
A ugus tine, "the firs t philos opher of the Will."
Between the pillars of A ris totle on choice and A ugus tine on the
Will, A rendt cons iders St. Paul on the impotence of the Will and
E pictetus on the onmipotence of the Will. T he bas ic tens ion which is
progres s ively brought forward during thes e dis cus s ions concerns the
relations hip between, once again, willing and freedom. "Freedom
becomes a problem, and the Will as an independent autonomous
faculty is dis covered, only when men begin to doubt the coincidence
of the T hou-s halt and the I-can, when the ques tion aris es :
Are things
that concern only me within my power?" (2.63). For Paul, "the will
is impotent not becaus e of s omething outs ide that prevents willing
from s ucceeding but becaus e the will hinders its elf" (2.70). T his
"s elf-hindrance" is found in the "conflict between fles h and s pirit"
(ibid.), a conflict which cannot be res olved by human action.
E pictetus , on the other hand, views the will as all-producing. "In
each, the actual content of inwardnes s is des cribed exclus ively in
terms of the promptings of the Will, which Paul believed to be impo-
tent and E pictetus declared to be almighty" (2.74). A s E pictetus
declares in the Discourse:
' Where lies the good? In the will. Where
lies evil? In the will.
Where lies neither? In what is not within the
will' s control"' (ibid.)."
It is the final part of chapter 2, entitled "A ugus tine, the Firs t
Philos opher of the Will," which compris es the longes t part in the
chapter. A rendt' s concern with A ugus tine, as the title indicates , is
occas ioned by his treatment of the Will as a s ubject of philos ophical
inves tigation. A ugus tine was "the firs t man of thought who turned
to religion becaus e of philos ophical perplexities " (2.84). He s ought,
es s entially, to articulate "the s triving for eternal life as the summum
bonum and the interpretation of eternal death the summum
malum" through an inves tigation "of an inward life"
(2.85).
07
T he
66. Discourses
2.16. "`Philosophy means little else but this-to search how it is
practicable to exercise the will to get and the will to avoid without hindrance"'
(2.78-Epictetus,
Manual 1). Man
'
s judgment, rather than what is done to him, pro-
duces the problems of existence. "'You will be harmed only when you think you are
harmed. No one can harm you without your consent"'
(2.79-ibid., 30). "In short, in
order 'to live well' it is not enough to 'ask not
that events should happen as you will';
you must 'let your will be that events should happen as they do"' (2.81-ibid.,
8).
67. Cf. Arendt's discussion of Broch's recognition of death as the the
summum
malum (MDT 127).
216
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
problem was not, as Paul had s ugges ted, a tens ion between fles h and
s pirit; "it was to be found in the faculty of the Will its elf" (2.93).
T he will s peaks imperatively (2.94), but there always exis ts two
dis tinct activities within the Will-one which wills toward the crea-
tion of new realities through action, and one which will nullify what
already exis ts (ibid.). T his "s plit within the Will is a conflict, and
not a dialogue" (2.95).
A rendt further s ugges ts that A ugus tine located the reflection of
the T rinity within human nature in the triad of being, knowing, and
willing (2.99). A nd while "thes e three faculties are equal in rank,
their Onenes s is due to the Will" (ibid.). "T he Will, by virtue of at-
tention, firs t unites our s ens e organs with the real world in a mean-
ingful
way, and then drags , as it were, this outs ide world into
ours elves and prepares it for further mental operations ..."
(2.100).
"T he will decides how to
use memory and intellect, that is , it `refers
them to s omething els e' ..." (2.103).
88
T he tens ion between willing
s omething and willing nothing, that is , between creating and
negating, is ultimately res olved for A ugus tine by the pres ence of
Love.
89
Similarly, according to A rendt, it is Love which cons titutes for
A ugus tine the trans formation of the faculties of memory, intellect,
and will into an unders tanding of the Mind as a whole (2.104).
"T here is no greater as s ertion of s omething or s omebody than to love
it, that is to s ay: I will that you be..."
(ibid.). T o the extent that love
becomes the controlling direction of the Mind, the tens ion between
creating and willing is les s ened, s ince Love, of its very nature, is a
pos itive rather than a negative as s ertion.
T his very approach to the tens ion of the Will, however, contains
it own deficiency. For, if willing unites the other mental faculties ,
and if, further, willing is expres s ed in its mos t vibrant way through
the concept of Love, A ugus tine does not es cape the problem of time.
By extrapolating the pres ent into the pas t (Will' s activity upon
memory) or the pres ent into the future (Will' s activity upon intellect
from the s tandpoint of creating s omething new), the pres ent is
graphically expres s ed as beyond human creation-as ide from
"jump[ing] out of temporal order," (2.105) man does not s olve the
68. Internal quotation is from Augustine's On the Trinity 11.17.
69. It is Love, and not divine grace, which produces "the healing of the will" for
Augustine (2.95).
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S
LIFE OF THE MIND
217
contingent concept of willing. A ugus tine, therefore, brings the Will
into s erious focus . A t the s ame time, however, he s quarely pres ents
its
mos t uns ettling property."
T he equation between willing and freedom compris es the es s en-
tial confines of this difficulty. "T he freedom of s pontaneity is part
and parcel of the human condition.
71
Its mental organ is the Will"
(2.110). A ugus tine s ucceeds in paralleling the creation entertained
by willing with the creation of man by God. "With man, created in
God' s own image, a being came into the world that, becaus e it was a
beginning running toward an end, could be endowed with the
capacity of willing and nilling" (2.109).
72
Precis ely becaus e the
"s pontaneous " creation of the human will is not co-terminous with
divine will, man never has s ufficient control of the temporal s e-
quence in which he is located. Willing cannot be, therefore, ap-
proached apart from the radical contingency inherent in the human
choice either to act or not to act. By cons idering the Will as that
mental activity which produces the unity of the life of the mind,
A ugus tine s ucceeds in laying down the principal dis tinction between
knowing and willing, between intellect and volition.
It is to this dis tinction that chapter 3 of volume
2 is ad-
dres s ed-part 11 cons iders A quinas on the primacy of the intellect,
while part 12
cons iders D uns Scotus on the primacy of the Will. For
A quinas , "`if Intellect or Will be compared with one another accord-
ing to the univers ality of their res pective objects , then...the Intellect
is abs olutely higher and nobler than the Will"' (2.121).
73
Intellect,
for A quinas , s eeks first principles (2.117).
Intellect is dis tinguis hed
from reas on by virtue of the s elf-evident res ults of intellect as
70. It is at this point that Arendt is no longer commenting upon Augustine's
teaching on the Will per se, but, rather, is herself extrapolating certain inevitable con-
clusions which set the stage for later philosophical attempts to wrestle with the Will's
manifestations.
71. Arendt employs the phrase "the human condition" on several occasions in
volume 2, but only once in volume 1-where the pursuits of thinking are viewed as
often having been believed to be un-natural, and thinkers being regarded as "engaged
in an activity
contrary to the human condition" (1.78). In this regard, it is useful to
recall the distinction between "the human condition" and "human nature" which
Arendt had drawn in HC: "To avoid misunderstanding: the human condition is not
the same as human nature, and the sum total of human activities and capabilities
which correspond to the human condition does not constitute anything like human
nature
"
(HC 11).
72. Cf. Augustine, The City of God 13.10.
73. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I, question 82, article 4, reply to objection 1.
218
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
dis tinguis hed from the deliberative res ults of reas on." Further,
while both intellect and reas on s eek truth, they have corres ponding-
ly different appetitive faculties -will as the appetitive faculty of in-
tellect, free choice as the appetitive faculty of reas on. (2.116).
T ruth, however, is s ought by the intellect, whereas what "appears
good and des irable" is s ought by the Will
(2.120). "T he Intellect...is
as s ured of its primacy over the Will not only becaus e it `pres ents an
object to the appetite,' and hence is prior to it, but als o becaus e it
s urvives the Will, which is extinguis hed, as it were, when the object
has been obtained" (2.123).
"If T homas had argued that the Will is an executive organ,...a
merely `s ubs ervient' faculty," D uns Scotus contended that "the In-
tellect s erves the Will by providing it with its objects as well as with
the neces s ary knowledge i.e., the Intellect in its turn becomes a
merely s ubs ervient faculty. It needs the Will to direct its attention
and can function properly only when its object is `confirmed' by the
Will. Without this confirmation the Intellect ceas es to function"
(2.126). For Scotus , "free will" is dis tinguis hed from free choice in
that free will "freely des igns ends that are purs ued for their own
sake, and of this purs uance only the Will is capable..." (2.132).
Freedom, once again, produces the difficulty of contingency.
"Scotus ," however, "is the only thinker for whom the word
'
con-
tingent
'
has no derogatory as s ociation....
'
R ather contingency is a
pos itive mode of Being..."
(2.134-135).
75
"T he Will' s freedom does
not cons is t in the s election of means for a pre-determined
end...precis ely becaus e this end is already
given by human nature; it
cons is ts in freely affirming or negating or hating whatever confronts
it.
76
It is this freedom of the will mentally to
take a position that s ets
man apart from the res t of creation...
"
(2.136).
74. "The distinction would be that truth, perceived by the intellect only, is revealed
to and compels the mind without any activity on the mind's part, whereas in the
discursive reasoning process the mind compels itself" (2.116).
75. Internal quotation from Arthur Hyman and James J. Walsh,
Philosophy in the
Middle Ages (New York, 1987), 597. Thus, "the primacy of the Intellect over the Will
must be rejected
`
because it cannot save freedom in any way...
"'
(2.135). Internal
quotation from Bernadine M. Bonansea,
"
Duns Scotus
'
Voluntarism,
"
in John K. Ryan
and Bernadine M. Bonansea, John Duns Scotus, 1265-1965 (
Washington, 1965), 109,
n. 90.
76. This trilogy of affirmation, negation, and hate comprises the equivalent of the
attraction, aversion, indifference trilogy found in later thought. The concept of indif-
ference
(contempt), of course, is often seen in medieval thought.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 219
N ow contingency implies a concern with neces s ity, s ince that
which is caus ed neces s arily cannot be the product of man' s free
will.
77
Scotus recognized the problem, but argued that contingency
and neces s ity are s eparate modes of Being (2.134-135). A t bas is here
is the "law of caus ality" which "apparently s poke agains t the Will' s
freedom..." (2.137). It is , however, "precis ely the caus ative element
in human affairs which condemns them to contingency and un-
predictability" (2.138). Scotus res olves the problem by as cribing
neces s ity to "everything that is past,"
and cons iders s uch neces s ity as
"absolutely necessary"
(2.139). T his is required to s ave the ability of
the
mind to perceive its elf in a "unilinear s equence of events "
(2.140), and while Scotus "cheerfully admitted that `there is no real
ans wer to the ques tion as to the way in which freedom and neces s ity
can be reconciled' "
78
(ibid.), he believed "no s uch reconciliation was
needed, for freedom and neces s ity were two altogether different
dimens ions of the mind; if there was a conflict between the willing
and the thinking ego, a conflict in which the will directs the intellect
and makes man as k the ques tion: Why?....T he ques tion
Why?-what is the causeP-is s ugges ted by the will becaus e the will
experiences its elf as a caus ative agent" (ibid.).
"T he decis ive oppos ites " for Scotus are not "freedom and neces s i-
ty, but freedom and nature....Like the Intellect, the Will is natural-
ly
inclined to neces s ity, except that the Will, unlike the Intellect,
can s ucces s fully res is t the inclination" (2.140-141). Scotus ' concep-
tion of the Will, therefore, places its activity within its elf, a place-
ment, A rendt contends , which is "without precedent or s equel in the
his tory of Wes tern thought..." (2.145).
In the final chapter of volume
2, curious ly entitled "Conclus ions ,"
A rendt s ketches the difficulties which willing, as mental activity,
has experienced in the modern age. T his final chapter parallels the
volume' s firs t chapter in which many of the themes addres s ed to the
modern age were firs t advanced.
A rendt begins her treatment of the modern period by cons idering
77. On necessity, see OR 109, iii; and BPF 117-118. See also Martin Bormann's "the
laws of nature are subject to an unchangeable will that cannot be influenced. Hence it
is necessary to recognize these laws.
"
OT 346, n. 10. On causality and the phenomenon
of the world, see Vollrath, op. cit., 171.
78.
Internal quotation from Bonansea, op. cit., 95.
220 THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
pos t-Kantian'
s
German Idealis m,
B
a cons ideration noticeably ab-
s ent from chapter 1. "T he ris e and decline of the modern age [is ] a
factual event that can be dated"-it is connected to the ris e and fall
of modern s cience (2.149-150).
81
What dis tinguis hes German
Idealis m is the belief "that we do not pos s es s the truth" (2.151), and
not until "the end of the nineteenth century did the conviction of not
pos s es s ing the truth become the common opinion of the educated
clas s es " (ibid.). Cas ting doubt upon the adequacy of s ens ual
knowledge produced a concomitant "immens e optimis m as to what
man can know and learn"
(2.153). Philos ophy' s fas cination with
progres s unfolded. T his was , however, applied to the concept of
mankind-a collective expres s ion-not to the individual' s faculties
of mental activity. Mankind became the model.
B2
"T he concept was
not a metaphor, properly s peaking; it was a full-fledged personifica-
tion....In other words , Progress became the project of mankind"
(ibid.). Largely due to the French R evolution and its aftermath, (cf.
OR 40-52) "philos ophers were converted to a faith in the progres s
not only of knowledge, but als o of human affairs generally" (2.154),
"and as the revolution encouraged them to trans fer the notion of
Progres s from s cientific advancement to the realm of human affairs
and unders tand it as the progres s of His tory, it was only natural that
their attention s hould be directed toward the Will as the s pring of
action and the organ of the Future. T he res ult was that `the thought
of making freedom the s um and s ubs tance of philos ophy eman-
cipated the human s pirit in all its relations hips ,' emancipated the
thinking ego for free s peculation...whos e ultimate goal was to
`prove... that not only is E go all, but contrariwis e too, all is E go"'
79.
Kant is not considered because his concept of Will is "not
a special mental
capability distinct from thinking, but practical reason....Kant's
Will is neither
freedom of choice nor its own cause....Kant's Will is delegated by reason to be its ex-
ecutive organ in all matters of conduct
"
(2.149).
Cf. BPF 144-145.
80. Cf. Arendt's discussion of the rise to social status by German Intellectuals (OT
168f.). See also Gray, op. cit., 50-51.
81. See, however, Arendt's distinction between "the modern age" and "the modern
world" (HC 6).
Cf. OT 54; and BPF 26-27.
82. See Arendt's distinction between a "philosophy of mankind' and a "philosophy
of men
"
(
MDT 90-91). See also OT 465:
"
Terror is the realization of the law of move-
ment; its chief aim is to make it possible for the force of nature or of history to race
freely through mankind, unhindered by an spontaneous human action. As such, terror
seeks to 'stabilize' men in order to liberate the forces of nature or history." It fabricates
a mankind, therefore, by eliminating individuals.
HANNAH ARE NDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 221
(2 .155-156)
.83
A ccording to German Idealis m, the Will made its appearance on-
ly in s peculation (2.156). A rendt s pecifically addres s es why it is that
German Idealis m had not been previous ly cons idered in the volume
and, in the proces s of this comment, reveals a good deal of her own
pers pective:
This, then, is my justification for having omitted from our consideration the
body of thought, German Idealism, in which sheer speculation in the realm of
metaphysics perhaps reached its climax together with its end....I do not believe
in a world, be it a past world or a future world, in which man's mind, equipped
for withdrawing from the world of appearances, could or should ever be com-
fortably at home" (2.157-158).
German Idealis m cas t the Will as a metaphys ical category. For
N ietzs che and Heidegger, to whom the next two parts of chapter 4
are addres s ed, "it was precis ely a confrontation with the Will as a
human faculty and not as an ontological category that prompted
them firs t to repudiate the faculty and
then turn around to put their
confidence in...pers onified concepts [res ulting from] the thinking,
as oppos ed to the willing, ego" (2.158).
N ietzs che rejected the equivalence of Progres s and mankind. Pro-
gres s ' optimis tic overtone implies "lack of his torical s ens e,...the
original error of all philos ophers " (ibid.).
84
Concerning "Progres s '
correlate, the idea of mankind," N ietzs che proclaimed that
"`Mankind does not advance; it does not even exis t"' (2.159).
85
T he inherent es s ence of willing is command for N ietzs che (2.611).
T here are, however, two conceptions of the ego implicit in com-
mand-the "I" commanding and the "I" obeying.
88
A rendt argues
that N ietzs che "detected in the `cons cious nes s ' of the s truggle a kind
of trick of the `I' that enables it to es cape the conflict by identifying
its elf
with the commanding part and to overlook, as it were, the
unpleas ant, paralyzing, s entiments of being coerced and hence
83.
Internal quotation is from Schelling's Of Human Freedom
(Gutmann transla-
tion [Chicago, 1936] 351).
84. Internal quotation from Nietzsche's
Human All Too Human, no. 2 (Kaufmann
translation, The Portable Nietzsche
[New York, 1954], 51).
85. Internal quotation from Nietzsche's
The Will to Power, no. 90 (Kaufmann
translation [New York, 1968]. 55).
86. Cf.
Arendt's discussion of the authoritarian relationship between commanding
and obeying (BPF 93).
222
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
always on the point of res is ting" (2.161-162). N ietzs che "s hifts from
the I-will to the anticipated I-can...[bas ed] on an elevation of Life
as experienced outs ide all mental activities to the rank of s upreme
value by which everything els e is to be evaluated" (2.163).
87
T he
very ris e of Life as the s tandard of reference carries with it certain
problems for the Will. For N ietzs che, the fact that "the Will cannot
will backward" (2.168) produces a feeling of impotence, while will-
ing future events is , of its very nature, a potency.' In either s itua-
tion, however, "the Will...trans cends the s heer givenes s of the
world" (2.169).
Stated in this manner, N ietzs che' s view of the Will, if "developed
into a s ys tematic philos ophy,... would have fas hioned a kind of
greatly enriched E pictetian doctrine..." (2.170). However, N ietz-
s che als o "embarked on a cons truction of the given world that would
make s ens e..." (ibid.), which would "be a fitting abode for a
creature whos e `s trength of will [is great enough] to do without
meaning in things ...[who] can endure to live in a meaningles s
world"' (ibid.). T his compris es the es s ential cons truct of N ietzs che' s
idea of "E ternal R ecurrence"
89
in which Becoming as s umes the pre-
eminent condition of willing.
90
T his idea is "N ietzs che' s term for the
Being of Being, through which time' s trans ient nature is eliminated
and Becoming, the medium of the will-to-power' s purpos ivenes s ,
receives the s eal of Being" (2.175).
Being becomes exis tence for which no caus al s equence can be
legitimately inferred. Becoming, therefore, is s een in a way which
eliminates intent and purpos e. With caus ality eliminated,
81
"`Becoming does not aim at a final state, does not flow into "being"
....Becoming is of [equal value at] every moment...in other words , it
has no value at all, for anything agains t which to meas ure it...is
87. See the comparison of Nietzsche's "yes to life" and Bertolt Brecht's "Gegen
Verftthrung' (MDT 233). On Brecht, see also Hannah Arendt, Walter Benjamin, Ber-
tolt Brecht: Zwet Essays ( Munich, 1971), 63-107; and Heller, op. cit., 148-157.
88. Internal quotation is from The Will to Power, no. 585A (Kaufmann transla-
tion, 318).
89.
1.175: "`Eternal Recurrence' is the most affirmative thought because it is the
negation of the negation. In that perspective, the will-to-power is no more than a
biological urge that keeps the wheel rolling and is transcended by a Will that goes
beyond the mere life instinct in saying `Yes' to Life."
90.
Cf. HC 221 on Nietzsche and the
"
meaning of the Will.
"
91. See Canovan, op. cit., 44.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S
LIFE OF THE MIND 223
lacking.
The total value of the world cannot be evaluated"'
(2.171-172).
92
N ietzs che' s "s uperman" becomes one who can "over-
come [the] fallacies " inherent in the "internal experiences " of the
Will which have "mis led thinking men into as s uming that there are
s uch things as caus e and effect, intention and goal, in reality"
(2.172).
A ccording to A rendt' s interpretation, N ietzs che' s "will-to-
power" eventually produces his "repudiation of the Will and the
willing ego" (ibid.).
Heidegger' s interpretation of N ietzs che compris es , for A rendt, the
moment of his famous "revers al"
(Kehre) on the will which, again
according to A rendt,9
3
is s een in the change of pers pective between
volumes 1 and 2
of Heidegger' s work entitled Nietzsche,
containing
lectures delivered between
1936 and 1940.
T he es s ential difference in emphas is between the two volumes is a
decis ive "s hift...from the thought of `E ternal R ecurrence' to an in-
terpretation of the Will as almos t exclus ively will-to-power, in the
s pecific s ens e of
a
will to rule and dominate..." (2.176-177). For
Heidegger,
"the las t word...concerns the
Will' s
des tructivenes s ...manifes t[ed] in the
Will' s obs es s ion
with the
future, which forces men into
oblivion. In order to will the future in
the s ens e of being the future' s mas ter, men mus t forget and finally
des troy the pas t....[S]ince everything that is real has `become,' that
is , incorporates a
pas t, this des tructivenes s ultimately relates to
everything that is " (2.177-178).
T o all of this is added the oppos ition of willing and thinking, a
recognition of the "enigmatic" being of man which Heidegger
s hared with N ietzs che (2.179). Heidegger, however, als o pres ents
the idea of a "History
of Being, and this His tory determines whether
men res pond to Being in terms of willing or in terms of thinking"
(ibid.).
Unlike the general theme in the his tory of thought which
pos its a connection between willing and acting, but not between
thinking and acting, "for Heidegger, it is Being its elf that,
forever
changing,
manifes ts its elf in the thinking of the actor s o that acting
and thinking
coincide" (2.180). T his coincidence, A rendt s ugges ts ,
92. Internal quotation is from The Will to Power,
no. 708 (Kaufmann translation,
377-378). At 2.175-176, however, Arendt chooses to translate a section from the same
passage herself.
93. See also J.L. Mehta's The Philosophy of Martin
Heidegger (New York, 1971),
112, to which Arendt refers (2.173).
224 THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
prompts Heidegger to reject the des tructivenes s of the Will and opt,
rather for "the letting be, and letting-be as an activity is thinking
that obeys the call of Being. T he mood pervading the letting-be of
thought is the oppos ite of the mood of purpos ivenes s in willing,...a
calmnes s ...that `prepares us ' for
'
a thinking that is not willing"
(2.178).
94
"T he s erenity of `letting be"' produces "the paradoxical
`Will-not-to-will' ,"
95
a mood, A rendt contends , which is no les s a
radical revers al than that which occurred between the two volumes
of Heidegger
'
s commentary on N ietzs che (2.188).
T he impact of this "s econd revers al" is advanced by A rendt in the
following pas s age: "Becoming, the law that rules beings [i.e., ex-
is tences external to the thinking ego], is now the oppos ite of Being
[i.e., the withdrawn, internalized, awarenes s of being by the think-
ing ego], when, in pas s ing away, becoming ceas es , it changes again
into that Being [internalized awarenes s ] from whos e s heltering, con-
cealing darknes s it originally emerged... .It is through withdrawal
that `being [internalized awarenes s ] holds to its truth' and s hields
it....T his leads to the s eemingly paradoxical s tatement `A s [Being
(internalized awarenes s )] provides the unconcealment of beings [ex-
ternal exis tences ], it [es tablis hes ] the concealment of Being [inter-
nalized awarenes s ]"' (2.191)
.96
T he withdrawn, internalized, Being
remains dis tinct from the various beings found in exis tence. Inter-
nalized Being s eeks truth,
B7
while it is the propens ity of external be-
ings to produce error. Internalized Being s eeks refuge in its elf, and
thinking, rather than willing, cons titutes its proper mental faculty.
T he coincidence of thinking and acting, however, occurs in "the
trans itional moment from one epoch to the next, from des tiny to
des tiny, when Being qua T ruth breaks into the continuum of error,
when the `epochal es s ens e of Being lays claim to the ecs tatic nature
94. Internal quotation is from Martin Heidegger, Gelassenheit (Pfullignen, 1959),
33 (English translation by John M. Anderson and E. Hans Freund, Discourse on
Thinking [New York, 1966], 60).
95. See Martin Heidegger Sein and Zeit (Tubingen, 1949), 329.
96.
Bracketed passages added. This statement is found in Heidegger's "Der Spruch
des Aniximander,
"
written in 1946. Arendt is here quoting from the English transla-
tion by David Farrell Krell,
"
The Aniximander Fragment," Arion 1 (1975), 591.
Arendt's entire suggestion concerning the "second reversal" is derived from this essay.
97. As Heidegger remarks in the Introduction to
"
What is Metaphysics?
"
-
"
Mean-
ing of Being
"
and "Truth of Being" say the same
"
(1.15).
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 225
of Da-sein [i.e., "exis tence"]"'
(2.192).
98
T his pus hing outward of
Internalized Being, at the pivotal moment, produces a meaningful
Becoming-the product, however, of thinking, not willing.
In the final part of the final chapter of the s econd, and owing to
her death, the final volume of The Life of the Mind, we return to the
ques tion of freedom and take up, for the only time in either volume
the ques tion of political life as well. What is here attempted,
however, is an examination of the political notion of freedom in the
hope of overcoming the perplexities inherent in the philos ophical
concept of freedom.
"Philos ophical freedom," A rendt writes , "the freedom of the will,
is relevant only to people who live outs ide political communities , as
s olitary individuals "
(2.199).
B9
"Political freedom is dis tinct from
philos ophic freedom in being clearly a quality of the I-can and not
of the I-will. Political freedom is pos s ible only in the s phere of
human plurality, and on the premis e that this s phere is not s imply
an extens ion of the dual I' and-mys elf to a plural We"
(2.200).
100
98. Internal quotation is from "The Aniximander Fragment," op. cit., 592. Cf. HC
375, n. 76.
99.Cf. OR 227-228 where
"
the trickiest and the most dangerous of modern concep-
tions and misconceptions"-that of the opposition of reason and passion (Arendt is here
referring to Federalist 50) is discussed. This opposition
"
has the great merit of bypass-
ing the faculty of the will."
It is paradoxical, as Arendt observes at the outset of the final chapter of volume 2,
"that every philosophy
of the Will is conceived and articulated not by men of action
but by philosophers, Kant's `professional thinkers,' who in one way or another are
committed to the bios theoretikos
and therefore by nature more inclined to `interpret
the world' than to `change it"' (2.195).
Cf. 1.166-167: "It is the helplessness of the
thinking ego to give an account of itself than has made the philosophers, the profes-
sional thinkers, such a difficult tribe to deal with." Cf. Canovan, op. cit., 11.
100.
Cf. BPF 246; HC 155-156, 167; and MDT 81-82:
"
Political concepts are based
on plurality, diversity, and mutual limitations. A citizen is by definition a citizen
among citizens of a country among countries. His rights and duties must be defined
and limited, not only by those of his fellow citizens, but also by the boundaries of a ter-
ritory. Philosophy may conceive of the earth as the homeland of mankind and of one
unwritten law, eternal and valid for all. Politics deals with men, nationals of many
countries and heirs to many pasts; its laws are the positively established fences which
hedge in, protect, and limit the space in which, freedom is not a concept, but a living,
political reality.
"
Consider, however, BPF 148 (
"
We first become aware of freedom or
its opposite in our intercourse with others, not in the intercourse with ourselves.") and
151 ("Freedom as related to politics is not a phenomenon of the will."). See Cooper,
op. cit.,
145f., 153; Sheldon S. Wolin, "Hannah Arendt and the Ordinance of Time,"
Social Research 44 (1977), 95' and Kateb,
op. cit., 148.
226 THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
Since
"
political power...is always limited power, and s ince power
and freedom in the s phere of human plurality are in fact
s ynonymous ,
101
this means als o that political freedom is always
li mited freedom" (2.201).
102
A rendt proceeds to comment upon limited political freedom, (cf.
OR 4, 279; BPF, 146)
the freedom experienced by "a group of people
[ who] came to think of thems elves as `We"' (2.202)
.103
In the proces s ,
we are confronted with a temporal concern, much as we were met
with a concern for time at the end of volume 1. T he collective "We"
s eeks to articulate its elf in terms of its foundation (s ee OR
160), its
creation, the moment in which becoming and being inters ect.
l04
T here is , at the founding of a "We," a profound s ens e of produc-
101.Cf. OV
43 (
"
Power, strength, force, authority, violence-these are but words
to indicate the means by which man rules over man; they are held to be synonymous
because they have the same function."), and 44 ("Power corresponds to the human
ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an in-
dividual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps
together."). See the entire discussion of power and violence, ibid., 41-56. Cf. Berns-
tein, op. cit., 8-9; and Canovan, op. Cit., 72-73. Coopei maintains that "the emphasis
on participation is the dominant theme in Hannah Arendt's political philosophy."
Cooper, op. cit., 145. See also ibid., 150, on power and violence.
Consider also OR 148-149: "It was precisely because Montesquieu-unique in this
respect among the sources from which the founders drew their political wisdom-had
maintained that power and freedom belong together, that conceptually speaking,
political freedom did not result in the I-will but in the I-can, and that therefore the
political realm must be contrasted and constituted in a way in which power and
freedom would be combined, that we find his name invoked in practically all debates
on constitution."
102. On power and appearance, see HC 178ff. On power and authority in the
modern world,
cf.
CR 205, 223-224. On power and the nation-state, see OT 38, also
139ff. On power and totalitarianism, see ibid., 418. Cf. Habermas, op. cit., (especially
20).
103. This recognition of "We
"
requires community among citizens. A state in
which no such communality exists, "where each man thinks only his own thoughts, is
by definition a tyranny
"
(BPF 164). On the implications of consent in this experience,
see CR 84ff. The "equality" of this condition is reflected in isonomy-"equality within
the range of law,...not equality of condition" (OR 22). Cf. OT 234, and Kateb, op.
cit., 155. See also Peter Fuchs, "Hannah Arendt's Conception of Political
Community," Idealistic Studies 3 (1973), 252-265.
104. The "public sphere" mapped out by the "We" encompasses as well the
"spiritual realm" in which humanitas is acquired. See MDT 73-74. On the modern
substitution of "social" for "political," see HC 24, 51; and Canovan, op.
cit., 2.
On the
"
perversion
"
inherent in the notion of nationalism, see OT 231.
HA N N A H A R E N D T
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND 227
ing
a
new order.
105
Owing to the "manifes t limitations inherent in
the human condition" (ibid.), however, that s ens e can only be
gras ped through legend. A rendt turns to the two eminent "founding
legends " of Wes tern civilization-R ome and E xodus (2.203f.).
loe
Both exhibit "the freedom that comes from being liberated" and
"the freedom that aris es from the s pontaneity of beginning
s omething new" (2.203). T hes e two founding legends "have acted as
guides for Wes tern political thought" (2.203-204). In each cas e, the
founding legend produces "a hiatus between dis as ter and s alvation,
between liberation from the old order and the new freedom, em-
bodies a novus ordo seclorum..." (2.204; cf., OR 171ff). T his "legen-
dary hiatus between a no-more and a not-yet clearly indicated that
freedom would not be the automatic res ult of liberation, that the
end of the old is not neces s arily the beginning of the new, that the
notion of an all-powerful time continuum is an illus ion" (ibid.).
A ll "foundation legends , with their hiatus between liberation and
the cons titution of freedom, indicate the problem without s olving it.
T hey point to the abys s of nothingnes s that opens up before any deed
that cannot be accounted for by a whole chain of caus e and
effect....In the normal time continuum every effect immediately
turns into a caus e of future developments , but when the caus al chain
is broken-which occurs after liberation has been achieved, becaus e
liberation, though it may be freedom' s
conditio sine qua non, is
never the conditio per quam that caus es freedom
107
-there is
nothing left for the `beginner' to hold on to. T he thought of an ab-
s olute beginning:creatio ex nihilo-abolis hes the s equence of tem-
porality no les s than does the thought of an abs olute end, now right-
ly referred to as `thinking the unthinkable" (2.207-208).
108
Lacking any experience in "creating from nothing," founders turn
to his tory for guidance.
109
What initially is viewed as an abs olutely
105.Cf. HC 201 on the
"
pre-determined identity of ruling and beginning [which]
had the consequence that all beginning was understood as the legitimation of ruling
until, finally, the element of beginning disappeared altogether from the concept of
rulership. With it the most elementary and authentic understanding of human
freedom disappeared from political philosophy."
106. See OR 206. Consider as well the "Great Game" (as portrayed by Kipling in
Kim) as a foundation legend (OT 216ff.).
107. Cf. ibid.,
22, 58, 301, n.1; and Bernstein,
op. cit., 6.
Kateb, op.
cit.,
is in-
dispensable on this point.
108. On the factors contributing to "total war," see OR 5-7.
109.Cf., however, HC 372, n.62: "Each time the modern age had reason to hope
for a new political philosophy, it received a philosophy of history instead."
228
T HE POLIT ICA L SCIE N CE R E VIE WE R
new beginning is re-defined into a "creating s omething anew," that
is , the re-creation of a prior event.
11
It is the "re-founding" of R ome
which has attracted the attention of men-indicating why antiqui-
ty, es pecially R oman antiquity, had s uch a pervas ive hold upon the
"re-birth[s ] or renais s ance[s ], from the fifteenth and s ixteenth cen-
turies onwards ... .It was not until the A ge of E nlightenment-that
is , in a new completely s ecularized world-that the revival of anti-
quity ceas ed to be a matter of erudition and res ponded to highly
practical political purpos es " (2.211)." '
T he founding of "R ome anew" occas ions A rendt' s treatment of
Virgin (2.211-215).
12
A ny founding is bes et by "the perplexity in-
herent in the tas k of foundation" (2.211), that is , how to create
s omething new-to found a political enterpris e which has not ex-
is ted and whos e future is highly contingent. T he relations hips
among political action, founding, and freedom do not provide the
res olution of the willing/freedom problem A rendt had s ought to
locate there. "When we directed our attention to men of action," s he
writes , "hoping to find in them a notion of freedom purged of the
perplexities caus ed for men' s mind by the reflecting of mental ac-
tivities -the inevitable recoil on its elf of the willing ego-we hoped
for more than we finally achieved. T he abys s of pure s pontaneity,
which in the foundation legends is bridged by the hiatus between
liberation and the cons titution of freedom, was covered up by the
device...of unders tanding the
new as an improved re-s tatement of
the old" (2.216)
. 1 3
Political action, thus , does not provide the res olution of the dif-
ficulties inherent in willing as it relates to freedom. A n impas s e
s eems to have aris en between the idea of "man as beginning" and
man "doomed to be free by virtue of being born" (2.217)-whether
man likes or abhors the condition, whether man s eeks to embrace it
110.Cf. CR5:
"
A characteristic of human action is that it always begins something
new, and this does not mean that it is ever permitted to start ab nova,
to create ex
nihilo." Cf. OT 473.
111. Arendt adds: "For that enterprise the only predecessor has been the lonely
figure, Machiavelli" (2.211). Cf. BPF 136-149; and OR 28-32.
112.Cf.
2.214 with OR 212. See Judith N. Shklar, "Rethinking the Past," Social
Research 44 (1977), 83f.
113.Cf.
MDT 11: "In the political realm restoration is never a substitute for a new
foundation but will be at best an emergency measure that becomes inevitable when the
act of foundation, which is called revolution, has failed."
HANNAH ARENDT
'
S LIFE OF THE MIND
229
or reject it altogether through fatalis m (ibid.).
114
T his impas s e, con-
s tituting as it does the es s ence of freedom, can be "opened or
s olved," A rendt s ugges ts , only "by an appeal to another mental
faculty-the faculty of Judgment, an analys is of which at leas t may
tell us what is involved in our pleas ures and our dis pleas ures "
(ibid.).
So ends The Life of the Mind as we have it.
III
Since A rendt s trictly couns els in both volumes that s he is neither
pres enting a s ys tematic treatis e, nor that one is likely to find a
definitive res olution of the enduring problems produced by mental
living, and further, s pecifically rejects the idea that s he s hould pro-
vide any all encompas s ing conclus ions garnered from her approach,
we are couns eled to refrain from doing s o here. A rendt, throughout
both volumes , had been practicing what s he cons idered to be true
thought. What is s ought is meaning, not cognition. T o provide
"s olutions " to the problems encountered in the s tudy would be tan-
tamount to vitiating the entire enterpris e.
If philos ophy concerns the es s ence of reality, is , therefore, the
s tudy concerned with beginnings (1.120), it is directed toward "the
meaning of the whole" (1.96). "T he s pectator, not the actor, holds
the clue to the meaning of human affairs " (ibid.), and the province
of political philos ophy is res erved for the s pectator, not the actor.
Political philos ophy, however, requires dialogue. One s olitary
s pectator, taking his bearings from the des ire to know "beginnings ,"
can never produce a s ufficient unders tanding of human affairs .
Kant, for example, could s peak of political philos ophy only becaus e,
and precis ely becaus e, thes e s pectators were in the plural (ibid.).
If philos ophy has witnes s ed a decline in the contemporary world,
if the metaphys ical foundations upon which philos ophy has res ted
have all turned into fallacies , then the only pos s ibility of continuing
the purs uit of meaning mus t fall back on the faculties of the human
mind, not on the s ys tems of philos ophic s chools . Philos ophy requires
a re-awakened memory, the one mental ~ faculty of A ugus tine' s
114. Cf. ibid., 4-5. See also Cooper, op. cit.,
146, on what he terms the
"philosophical anthropology" of Arendt's political philosophy.
230
THE POLITICAL SCIENCE REVIEWER
trilogy of memory, intellect, and will, which has been los t to the
modern world, to the great prejudice of "all s trictly political
philos ophy" (2.117). Hannah A rendt' s
The Life of the Mind com-
pris es a grand couns el on the neces s ity of re-kindling memory, and
memory demands a recognition of the rational faculties of man. It is
perhaps in this s ens e that
The Life of the Mind s tands as the
philos ophical equivalent of
The Human Condition. For Hannah
A rendt, if s he accomplis hed nothing els e, forces us to remember;
and by doing s o, compelled us to enter into dialogue with her. A
"plurality of s pectators " has been achieved.
Duquesne University
KENT F. MOORS