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Political ThinkersFrom Socrates to the Present

Political Thinkers: From Socrates to the Present (3rd edn)

David Boucher and Paul Kelly
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date: 28 June 2022

p. 54829. Arendtlocked

p. 54829. Arendtlocked

  • Justine Lacroix

Abstract

This chapter examines a number of key concepts in Hannah Arendt's work, with particular emphasis on how they have influenced contemporary thought about the meaning of human rights. It begins with a discussion of Arendt's claim that totalitarianism amounts to a destruction of the political domain and a denial of the human condition itself; this in turn had occurred only because human rights had lost all validity. It then considers Arendt's formula of the ‘right to have rights’ and how it opens the way to a ‘political’ conception of human rights founded on the defence of republican institutions and public-spiritedness. It shows that this ‘political’ interpretation of human rights is itself based on an underlying understanding of the human condition as marked by natality, liberty, plurality and action, The chapter concludes by reflecting on the so-called ‘right to humanity’.

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