Title page for ETD etd-07042011-160914

Document Type Master's Dissertation
Author Vivier, Lincky Elme
Email elme.vivier@up.ac.za
URN etd-07042011-160914
Document Title Praxis, poiesis, and durable public space in the philosophy of Hannah Arendt
Degree Master of Arts
Department Philosophy
Advisor Name Title
Prof M J Schoeman Supervisor
  • remembrance
  • public space
  • plurality
  • durability
  • work
  • action
  • Arendt
  • freedom
Date 2011-04-06
Availability unrestricted
This dissertation examines the potential dependence of praxis upon poiesis. The relation between praxis and poiesis, or action and work, is complicated by the conflicting qualities and principles of each. This tension, however, illuminates the human being as free and worldly. It is therefore concluded that praxis and poiesis form an interdependent tension that is potentially mediated by the faculty of judging and care for the world.

Chapter 1 serves as an introduction to the framework and significant elements of Arendt's overall project. It begins with an elucidation of the philosophical bias against politics that Arendt critiques. The rest of the chapter explores the unique characteristics and principles that Arendt attributes to each respective activity of the vita activa. This chapter enables the reader to grasp the significance of the differences that Arendt accentuates between activities, as well as the specific characteristics and principles of action and work.

Chapter 2 introduces the potential dependence of action upon the capabilities of the work activity. It centres on the relationship between action, the condition of plurality, the public space of appearance, and the durable, fabricated world. The durable world provides both a shared context and shared concern for potential action and the realisation of plurality. But this is problematic considering the extent to which the durable world arises through fabrication. This suggests that action is subordinate to the faculty of work. The problematic implications of such a relationship are further analysed, with a focus on the principles that inform homo faber's view of the world in general, and the relation between this sensibility and public spaces of appearance in particular. The contradictory principles of work and action, and yet the significance of work in building a durable world, will come to light.

Chapter 3 explores further the extent of the relationship between action and world. The aim is to provide an exegesis of Arendt's notion of amor mundi, or love for the world, coupled 132 with her emphasis on the frailty of action. Amor mundi illuminates actors' concern with the world as a space for appearance and as a durable world. However, the extent to which political actors may effectively care for the world is brought into question. The faculties of promisemaking, forgiveness, and remembrance are examined as 'solutions' to the frailty of action. But remembrance once again suggests a dependence of action on work. The chapter concludes with a discussion on the relationship between praxis and poiesis in light of the role of remembrance and the tension between freedom and permanence.

Chapter 4 builds on the claim that praxis and poiesis must be rethought in terms of an interdependence that reflects the nature of human being as free and worldly. It is argued that it is specifically in the faculty of judgment that this interdependence is mediated. The role of the disinterested spectator is therefore introduced and its relevance in both praxis and poiesis investigated. This faculty emphasises the importance of spectators who judge all appearances on the basis of beauty and meaning, and out of a concern for the world as a durable public space. The relation between judgment, action, and work also illuminates the condition of the human being as free and worldly, and the capacity to care for the world through the activities of both beginning and preserving.

2010, University of Pretoria. All rights reserved. The copyright in this work vests in the University of Pretoria. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the prior written permission of the University of Pretoria.

Please cite as follows:

Vivier, LE 2010, Praxis, poiesis, and durable public space in the philosophy of Hannah Arendt, MAs dissertation, University of Pretoria, Pretoria, viewed yymmdd < http://upetd.up.ac.za/thesis/available/etd-07042011-160914/ >


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