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'We Feel Our Freedom': Imagination and Judgment in the Thought of Hannah Arendt
Unformatted Document Text:  41 judgment, not to dismiss these as totally irrelevant to what an aesthetic judgment is, but to discern the existence of our mutual attunement. 41 This limited view of imagination as empirical and reproductive is tied to certain suppositions about the status of normative political claims and the kind of rationality that is proper to politics, both of which are central to Habermas’s discourse ethics: (1) that political claims are cognitive and can be treated like claims to truth; (2) that the justification of claims requires that speakers engage in an actual practice of argumentative justification. Even defenders of Arendt’s non-cognitive account of political judgment against Habermas’s charge of incoherence (e.g. Lisa Disch) take for granted (2) because they never really find a way to counter (1), beholden as they are to the validity problematic that defines our understanding of politics. 42 Hannah Arendt, “What Remains? The Language Remains,” Essays in Understanding, 1930-1954, ed. Jerome Kohn (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1994), 1-23, 20. 43 For Habermas, the perspective of the third installs the objectification typical of the philosophy of consciousness. Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, 297. 44 David Carroll, “Rephrasing the Political with Kant and Lyotard: From Aesthetic to Political Judgments,” Diacritics, vol. 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1984): 73-88, 82. 45 Beiner, “Interpretive Essay,” 92-93. Beiner argues that Arendt’s earliest writings on judgment (e.g., “The Crisis in Culture” and “Truth and Politics”) reflect her concern with the actual dialogic activity of judging citizens. In her later work, Arendt describes a solitary judging subject, who “weighs the possible judgments of an imagined Other, not the actual judgments of real interlocutors” (Ibid., 92). 46 Lyotard, Lessons, 18. For a similar critique, see David Carroll, “Community after Devastation: Culture, Politics, and the ‘Public Space’,” in Politics, Theory, and Contemporary Culture, ed. Mark Poster (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 159-196.

Authors: Zerilli, Linda.
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41
judgment, not to dismiss these as totally irrelevant to what an aesthetic judgment is, but to
discern the existence of our mutual attunement.
41
This limited view of imagination as empirical and reproductive is tied to certain
suppositions about the status of normative political claims and the kind of rationality that is
proper to politics, both of which are central to Habermas’s discourse ethics: (1) that political
claims are cognitive and can be treated like claims to truth; (2) that the justification of claims
requires that speakers engage in an actual practice of argumentative justification. Even defenders
of Arendt’s non-cognitive account of political judgment against Habermas’s charge of
incoherence (e.g. Lisa Disch) take for granted (2) because they never really find a way to counter
(1), beholden as they are to the validity problematic that defines our understanding of politics.
42
Hannah Arendt, “What Remains? The Language Remains,” Essays in Understanding,
1930-1954, ed. Jerome Kohn (New York: Harcourt Brace & Co., 1994), 1-23, 20.
43
For Habermas, the perspective of the third installs the objectification typical of the
philosophy of consciousness. Habermas, The Philosophical Discourse of Modernity, 297.
44
David Carroll, “Rephrasing the Political with Kant and Lyotard: From Aesthetic to
Political Judgments,” Diacritics, vol. 14, no. 3 (Autumn 1984): 73-88, 82.
45
Beiner, “Interpretive Essay,” 92-93. Beiner argues that Arendt’s earliest writings on
judgment (e.g., “The Crisis in Culture” and “Truth and Politics”) reflect her concern with the
actual dialogic activity of judging citizens. In her later work, Arendt describes a solitary judging
subject, who “weighs the possible judgments of an imagined Other, not the actual judgments of
real interlocutors” (Ibid., 92).
46
Lyotard, Lessons, 18. For a similar critique, see David Carroll, “Community after
Devastation: Culture, Politics, and the ‘Public Space’,” in Politics, Theory, and Contemporary
Culture, ed. Mark Poster (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), 159-196.


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