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A Democratic Theory of Judgment$
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Linda M. G. Zerilli

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226397849

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226398037.001.0001

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Objectivity, Judgment, and Freedom: Rereading Arendt’s “Truth and Politics”

Objectivity, Judgment, and Freedom: Rereading Arendt’s “Truth and Politics”

Chapter:
(p.117) Four Objectivity, Judgment, and Freedom: Rereading Arendt’s “Truth and Politics”
Source:
A Democratic Theory of Judgment
Author(s):

Linda M. G. Zerilli

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226398037.003.0004

Taking up Arendt's well-known claim that politics has always been at odds with truth, this chapter finds a more complicated position in her writings on truth and politics. Arendt's concern was not only to keep dogmatic claims to truth from destroying a public realm formed around the free exchange of opinion. It was also to guard against the easy assimilation of truth to a wholly subjective idea of opinion. What is "merely" subjective can endanger factual truth, as Arendt sees it, which is reliant on the correcting free exchange of public opinion to "survive." Thus Arendt rejects both a wholly objective conception of factual truth in the political realm and a wholly subjective idea of opinion. She offers an alternative to the efforts of dystopic thinkers such as George Orwell, who embrace what in her view is an impossible ideal of objectivity. Arendt's understanding of truth as requiring a robust public sphere is which opinions can be exchanged is seen as her attempt to articulate a distinctively political conception of truth through the prism of nonsovereign freedom.

Keywords:   truth, Hannah Arendt, democratic theory, politics

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