Open Access Honors Program Thesis
Liberty; Arendt, Hannah, 1906-1975;
The possibility of human freedom has captivated philosophers throughout the ages, often leading them to conclude that freedom is a unique capacity of humanity, exemplifying our potential for politics, contemplation, and/or religious salvation. In the modern age, beginning with the political writings of Thomas Hobbes and John Locke, freedom has been understood (at least within the early liberal tradition and common discourse) as unhindered and individuated economic movement, motivated by self-interest and actualized most fully in institutions such as the consumerist free market. Yet, we find that the more we devote our actions to fulfilling our individual interests and needs, the more our actions become subservient to physical/emotional impulses, leaving one to wonder how freedom can be found in these apparently necessitated activities. Hannah Arendt’s political theory, which draws on her personal experience of totalitarianism in Europe and her understanding of Greek culture and thought, offers a profoundly different and, in my estimation, superior understanding of freedom. It is not in individual, economic action that we find human freedom, but rather in the discursive and action-based associations we form with others. Thus, freedom is an essentially political phenomenon, and depends upon the willingness of humans to form public identities through their communal interactions with one another.
Date of Award
University Honors Designation
A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the designation University Honors
© 2008 Grant J. Rozeboom
Rozeboom, Grant J., "Social politics and freedom: Incorporating civil society into Arendt's political thought" (2008). Honors Program Theses. 18.