Within the heart's darkness : The role of emotions in Arendt's political thought

Degerman, D. (2019) Within the heart's darkness : The role of emotions in Arendt's political thought. European Journal of Political Theory, 18 (2). pp. 153-173. ISSN 1474-8851

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Interest in the political relevance of the emotions is growing rapidly. In light of this, Hannah Arendt’s claim that the emotions are apolitical has come under renewed fire. But many critics have misunderstood her views on the relationship between individuals, emotions and the political. This paper addresses this issue by reconstructing the conceptual framework through which Arendt understands the emotions. Arendt often describes the heart – where the emotions reside – as a place of darkness. I begin by tracing this metaphor through her work to demonstrate that it is meant to convey the inherently uncertain nature of emotions rather than a devaluation of them. I proceed to challenge the notion that Arendt adopts the Enlightenment dichotomy between reason and emotion. In fact, she rejects both as a basis for politics. However, she does identify some constructive roles for the emotions. I argue that fear is intrinsically connected to courage – the principal political virtue – in Arendt’s philosophy. In light of my discussion, I then reinterpret the role of compassion and pity in On Revolution, concluding that Arendt’s insights can help us avoid the potential pitfalls of the contemporary project to recuperate the emotions in politics.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
European Journal of Political Theory
Additional Information:
The final, definitive version of this article has been published in the Journal, European Journal of Political Theory, 18 (2), 2016, © SAGE Publications Ltd, 2016 by SAGE Publications Ltd at the European Journal of Political Theory page: http://ept.sagepub.com/ on SAGE Journals Online: http://online.sagepub.com/
Uncontrolled Keywords:
?? hannah arendtemotionspolitical science and international relationssociology and political science ??
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Deposited On:
06 Jun 2016 10:32
Last Modified:
15 Jul 2024 16:03