Hannah Arendt, Liberalism, and Freedom from Politics

In Arendt on Freedom, Liberation, and Revolution. pp. 17-45 (2019)
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Abstract

Arendt presents her defense of political freedom as a challenge to the liberal convention, which allegedly conceptualizes freedom as “freedom from politics.” But her comments on liberal theories of freedom are scattered and unsystematic, and they raise a series of questions. Is her understanding of liberal freedom accurate? If it is not, why does she misconstrue liberal freedom as she does? And does her limited understanding of liberalism undermine her defense of political freedom? This chapter aims to answer these questions. The first half clarifies Arendt’s (mis-)understanding of liberal freedom. The latter half critically evaluates her challenge to liberal freedom and considers what is alive in it over a half-century later.

Author's Profile

Kei Hiruta
University of Oxford

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