European Journal of Political Theory 13 (2):154-177 (2014)

In this article, I offer a reassessment of the influence of two disparate bodies of thought – republicanism and existentialism – on Hannah Arendt. Arendt, I argue, is not involved in an ‘agonistic appropriation’ of Heidegger. Arendt identifies two opposed attitudes in Heidegger’s work. The first Promethean moment places Heidegger squarely in the tradition of Western political philosophy, and the second seemingly correcting for this recommends a quietism. Arendt rejects both these attitudes. Machiavelli rather than Heidegger, I argue, is the key influence on Arendt's political thought. Through a reading of Arendt’s published works and her unpublished 1955 lecture notes on Machiavelli I show that the central categories of Arendt’s thought emerge from her meditation on Machiavelli’s texts. Arendt finds in Machiavelli a performative understanding of politics, an accurate understanding of the connection between morality and politics, and a primacy given to politics that she thought it deserves
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DOI 10.1177/1474885113483285
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