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A Cosmopolitical Proposal: Towards a Democratic Composition of Environments
Unformatted Document Text:  4 Politics, stemming from the Greek polis, refers to the Greek city-state, often “such a state considered in its ideal form.” 4 Much debate exists over the ‘proper’ meaning of polis and its specific use in the Greek context. In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt famously describes it as “properly speaking…not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be.” 5 “As city-states have remained paradigmatic for all Western political organization,” the polis has served as a nostalgic model of public life as well as an inspiring form of political activity. 6 Most importantly, the influence that life in the polis has had on the Western political imaginary has kept alive an emphasis on the active component of participation in public life, and the reminder that “the political realm rises directly out of acting together.” 7 Polis, and its emphasis on action in public life, serves as the root of the contemporary politics and political, as well as metropolis, cosmopolitan, biopolitics, among many others. Politics, with its roots in the creation of the shared life of an organized community, can be taken as the effort and energies put into making and sustaining a polis, all the activities that contribute to the character of a shared life of engaged actors and maintain a community’s existence. A cosmopolitics then refers to the activity of creating political communities through the organization of the relations among the entities that constitute these communities. For much of cosmopolitanism’s history, this has meant attempting to establish a universal political community where all people can participate. As Lolive and Soubeyran recount in their edited collection on the contemporary emergence of cosmopolitics, “the notion of cosmopolis, the city 4 Oxford English Dictionary. 5 Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.), 198. 6 Arendt, 201. 7 Arendt, 201.

Authors: Nordquist, Michael.
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4
Politics, stemming from the Greek polis, refers to the Greek city-state, often “such a state
considered in its ideal form.”
Much debate exists over the ‘proper’ meaning of polis and its
specific use in the Greek context. In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt famously describes
it as “properly speaking…not the city-state in its physical location; it is the organization of the
people as it arises out of acting and speaking together, and its true space lies between people
living together for this purpose, no matter where they happen to be.”
“As city-states have
remained paradigmatic for all Western political organization,” the polis has served as a nostalgic
model of public life as well as an inspiring form of political activity.
Most importantly, the
influence that life in the polis has had on the Western political imaginary has kept alive an
emphasis on the active component of participation in public life, and the reminder that “the
political realm rises directly out of acting together.”
Polis, and its emphasis on action in public
life, serves as the root of the contemporary politics and political, as well as metropolis,
cosmopolitan, biopolitics, among many others. Politics, with its roots in the creation of the
shared life of an organized community, can be taken as the effort and energies put into making
and sustaining a polis, all the activities that contribute to the character of a shared life of engaged
actors and maintain a community’s existence.
A cosmopolitics then refers to the activity of creating political communities through the
organization of the relations among the entities that constitute these communities. For much of
cosmopolitanism’s history, this has meant attempting to establish a universal political
community where all people can participate. As Lolive and Soubeyran recount in their edited
collection on the contemporary emergence of cosmopolitics, “the notion of cosmopolis, the city
4
Oxford English Dictionary.
5
Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005.), 198.
6
Arendt, 201.
7
Arendt, 201.


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