Southern Journal of Philosophy 53 (3):362-384 (2015)

Itay Snir
Yezreel Valley Academic College
Arendt's concept of common sense has generally been misunderstood. It is almost exclusively interpreted in light of Kant's common sense, either as an espousal of the latter or as a distortion of it. This narrow reading of Arendtian common sense has led to a problem, as her uses of the concept do not always fit its Kantian understanding. This has led to accusing her of being inconsistent, or as holding on to several, incompatible concepts of common sense. This article argues that Arendt has one complex concept of common sense, used more or less consistently throughout her writings. Rather than understanding Arendt's common sense in light of Kant's, as most readers do, I demonstrate its links to Aristotle and to the eighteenth-century Scottish school of common sense. By doing so I turn attention to a difficulty that has thus far not been adequately treated, namely the fact that Arendt presents two, allegedly contradictory pictures of the relation between common sense on the one hand and science and philosophy on the other: a picture in which science and philosophy depend upon common sense, versus one in which they find themselves in a conflict that eventually leads to the loss or demise of common sense. The last part of the article suggests a way to settle the tension between these two pictures, by understanding the political significance Arendt ascribes to them as two distinct yet complementary ways of approaching the modern phenomenon of totalitarianism
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DOI 10.1111/sjp.12117
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References found in this work BETA

Critique of Judgment.Immanuel Kant - 1790 - Barnes & Noble.
The Life of the Mind.Hannah Arendt - 1977 - Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
Lectures on Kant’s Political Philosophy.Hannah Arendt - 1982 - University of Chicago Press.

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Citations of this work BETA

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Hannah Arendt on the Evil of Not Being a Person.Martin Shuster - 2018 - Philosophy Compass 13 (7):e12504.

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