Browsing Masters Theses by Subjects
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Action, Love, and the World: An Inquiry Into the Political Relevance of Christian Charity (With Constant Reference to Hannah Arendt)In The Human Condition, Hannah Arendt identifies the central principle that has defined Christian communities since their earliest appearance as “worldlessness.” On Arendt’s analysis, Christianity has always tended to found relations between people on charity, a virtue that, due to its affiliation with the anti-political experience of passionate love, is incapable of serving as the basis of any public realm or common political world. This thesis aims to reconcile the virtue of charity to Arendt’s political vision on the basis of a reconsideration of love’s “worldlessness.” In the first two chapters, I characterize Arendt as a political thinker and provide an account of her ideas of political action and the common world. In the third chapter, I place Arendt’s understanding of the world in dialogue with Jean-Luc Marion’s phenomenological account of charity, which dissociates charity from the idea of passion and presents it as an act of will through which one resolves to see past the simple objectivity of the world and to perceive the invisible “flesh” or personhood of others. Charity is “worldless”—and thus crucial to an Arendtian understanding of politics—in the sense that it looks beyond what the world automatically makes present in order to “see” the other person and to invite her voice into the common world of speech and action.
Relationship Issues: Forgiveness and Promising According to Hannah Arendt and Jacques DerridaIn retrospect this learning experience lead me to two conclusions. First, the way we hold someone responsible must reflect the openness and vulnerability of the actor and those to whom she relates. What we do when we hold someone responsible, administering a sentence, for example, must respond to the unending process of interaction and transformation that defines the human person in intersubjective life. This essentially describes the meaning and limits of holding someone responsible. The second lesson was more directly addressed in this thesis. It concerns the idea that the uncertain and vulnerable characteristics of the self that accompany our transformability, are not simply detriments to responsibility. Rather, the uncertain nature of a self as it exists in relationship with others is a condition of meaningfulness, responsibility, and love. As a condition of responsibility, our finitude calls for the sustaining ethical practices of promises and forgiveness. Uncertainty, even in its greatest manifestations as birth and death, is something we can embrace.