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Scientific paper


Community Building According to Hannah Arendt

Pierre Tosi

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Scientific paper

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Degrowth Conference Budapest 2016


«Are contemporary homo sapiens necessarily a homo faber as well? Can inspiration for a new narrative be found in the cultural past?» Interesting suggestions about this were given by Hannah Arendt, above all in her "The Human Condition" (1958).

The Jewish philosopher thought that the contemporary commingling of "homo faber" (maker of handworks and instruments) and "homo laborans" (producer of his sustenance), who traditionally were distinct, created the growth and consumption society, harmful not only for nature, but for human liberty as well. Her hope, following the example of the Greek "polis" and Aristotle’s thought, is a return to political action, the only way for a citizen to exist and to realise himself, as after a second birth. She retained that Christian and Modern history distanced men from common action, because of its unpredictable and unstoppable being; at the same time she exalted the value of forgiveness as a solution for these obstacles.

In the paper the considerations from her critics, like Jean-François Lyotard and the Italian Roberto Esposito, will be illustrated too. The former (who gives us also the opportunity to reconsider the role and the meaning of narration in post-modern times) criticizes the too easy humanism in her natality concept; the latter accuses Arendt of excessive optimism and in his book Communitas, dedicated to the concept of community, underlines the conflicting role of fear (through Hobbes’s and Rousseau’s reflections, up to Bataille’s proposal).

Arendt’s analysis, through the importance bestowed to the beginning (archein) of action, as an antidote to delusions can be very useful to imagine and plan degrowth activities (praxis).

This media entry was a contribution to the special session „Community Building According to Hannah Arendt“ at the 5th International Degrowth Conference in Budapest in 2016.

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