Solitude and the Activity of Thinking
THINKING IN DARK TIMES: HANNAH ARENDT ON ETHICS AND POLITICS, Roger Berkowitz, Jeffrey Katz, and Thomas Keenan, eds., Fordham University Press, 2009
15 Pages Posted: 2 Feb 2009
Date Written: February 1, 2009
Abstract: This paper reflects on the political importance of the activity of thinking and suggests that Arendt's space of politics may not be limited to its traditional abode within the public realm. Beyond the public realm of politics, Arendt's defense of political action requires attention to the private as well. What has been overlooked amidst all the attention to Arendt's defense of the public realm of politics over and against the rise of the social is her equally strong insistence upon a vibrant and secure private realm where active thinking is possible. Arendt's private realm is a space of solitude that is the necessary prerequisite for the activity of thinking. Indeed, it is solitude that nurtures and fosters thoughtfulness and thus prepares individuals for the possibility of political action. To create a meaningful politics amidst the loneliness of the modern world, Arendt suggests, requires solitude, which she sees as the cradle of thinking.
Keywords: Arendt, Socrates, Thoreau, Emerson, Solitude, thinking, activity of thinking, politics, jaspers, loneliness,
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