Critique of Hannah Arendt’s Mysterious Concept of ‘Thinking’ in ‘Life of Mind’ (2019.05)

  • Authors : Chiwon Choi
  • Journal : The Korean Review of Political Thought
  • Publisher : Korean Society For Political Thought
  • Volume : 25(1)
  • Publication Date : May, 2019
  • Abstract : The reality or true identity of Arendt’s theory is not well understood, and its value is exaggerated. Arendt’s theory is repeatedly reproduced through the ‘Arendt scholarly cottage industry’. In the context of criticizing it, this study explores that Arendt’s ‘thinking’, while transformed into a superhistorical notion, becomes a empty theory in relation to the reality. In its core, there is an aestheticization of thinking through literature and art, and Heidegger provides a important theoretical foundation. Arendt’s method of aesthetic thinking is closely tied to the way she idealizes thinking. And these aestheticized and ideationalized thinking leads to a moralized thinking. This moralized thinking, however, is empty. Arendt’s concept of thinking reveals many contradictory and conflicting moments, and there are many deficiencies in form and substance. Arendt’s ‘thinking’, which is aesthetized, ideationalized and moralized, located out of the realm of practice. ‘Thinking’ is not situated in a reality but a literary poem or ‘nunc stans’ and has the activity there. ‘Thinking’, which lives and is active in a place where only God knows or no one knows, can not proceed to the realm of praxis. In other words, Arendt’s theory can not be an actual theory for political action based on ‘thinking’. No matter how much ‘politics’ is put forward and emphasized, not all theories are political theories.