Hannah Arendt: Plural Agency, Political Power and Spontaneity

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    Engaging with the work of the philosopher who is best known for her work on the “active life” (vita activa), Hannah Arendt, this entry deals with a particular type of agency that is rarely accounted for in phenomenology: political agency. For Arendt human beings are actors only in particular instances, that is: if one follows the standard account of agency as entailing the capacity for intentional and goal-directed action, which the author calls the model of agency as sovereignty. In this model, someone is considered an actor if she knows what she is doing and is more or less in control of the outcomes of her deeds, so that those outcomes can indeed be attributed to the enactment of her intentions. Whereas the non-sovereignty of animal laborans precludes political agency, this is entirely different when people act as citizens. Even if they are not sovereign, Arendt does not deny their agency.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationRoutledge Handbook of Phenomenology of Agency
    EditorsT. Keiling, C. Erhard
    Place of PublicationLondon
    Number of pages17
    ISBN (Electronic)9781315104249
    Publication statusPublished - 2020


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