Solidarity in Dark Times: Arendt and Gadamer on the Politics of Appearance

Philosophy Compass 13 (12):e12554 (2018)
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Abstract

This essay surveys the theme of solidarity in the respective works of Hans-Georg Gadamer and Hannah Arendt. Recent discourses in continental political philosophy have arrived at an impasse regarding solidarity. On the one hand, solidarities are important for galvanizing historically oppressed peoples against dominant discourses. On the other hand, solidarities that impose similarities in advance run the risk of absorbing difference and becoming exclusionary. Gadamer and Arendt, each in different manners, promise a distinctive approach to discourses on solidarity through their emphasis on the existential concern for human finitude. Both suggest that insofar as we are finite, we are bound together not by familiarity and sameness but rather by shared vulnerability, finding help with this vulnerability by remaining open to the difference and otherness that is always at stake in communal life. In this, Gadamer and Arendt open new paths to theorizing collectives in ways that embrace and defend difference rather than rejecting it. Moreover, both remind us of the urgency of such a notion of solidarity for responding to what, in allusion to Arendt, we may be inclined to call the dark times in which we live.

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Author's Profile

Jennifer Gaffney
Loyola University, Chicago