Date of Award

5-1-2018

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Philosophy

First Advisor

Beardsworth, Sara

Abstract

This dissertation takes as its founding premise that modern subjects interpret and experience the political as somehow alienating or other—as a form of experience that is not fundamental but is only significant as a means to some further end. It is common in late modern societies to think of the political as subservient to economic and social ends, and to make it so. In light of this, my dissertation addresses two major problems: the erosion of distinctly political experience in modernity and the attempt to show how such experience can be recovered. By erosion I mean both the deterioration of the “public space,” a political concept that comes from Hannah Arendt, and the general impoverishment of political discourse. I argue, with Arendt, that political experience is recoverable through articulating a concept of the public space in which the need of creating and maintaining it for the sake of political experience as an experience in which freedom can arise. The dissertation is therefore an interpretation and extension of Arendt’s political thought, with a major objective being to seek a path forward in combating the alienation and instrumentality that, I argue, characterizes contemporary citizens’ experience of the political.

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