The End of Action: An Arendtian Critique of Aristotle’s Concept of praxis

Hannah Arendt: Practice, Thought and Judgement (2010)
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The article re-examines the Aristotelian backdrop of Arendt’s notion of action. On the one hand, Backman takes up Arendt’s critique of the hierarchy of human activities in Aristotle, according to which Aristotle subordinates action (praxis) to production (poiesis) and contemplation (theoria). Backman argues that this is not the case since Aristotle conceives theoria as the most perfect form of praxis. On the other hand, Backman stresses that Arendt’s notion of action is in fact very different from Aristotle’s praxis, to the extent that Arendt thinks of action as an external to the means-ends scheme, whereas Aristotle ultimately remains caught in this scheme proper to poiesis in thinking of praxis as its own end. According to Backman, Arendt’s concept of action can therefore be understood as a critique, rather than as a rehabilitation, of Aristotelian praxis.
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