What Is a World?: On Postcolonial Literature as World Literature
Pheng Cheah is Professor of Rhetoric and Chair of the Center for Southeast Asia Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the author of
The In-Between World: Anthropologizing the Force of Worlding
This chapter is a study of the differences between Martin Heidegger’s and Hannah Arendt’s conceptions of the world. It examines in greater detail Arendt’s critique of Heidegger’s idea of world for its denigration of politics, human action, and plurality. It then outlines the two components of Arendt’s own account of the world as the objective world of fabricated things and the intersubjective world of speech and acts. This chapter argues that Arendt’s concept of natality is a dogmatic anthropologistic reduction of the force of worlding, as evidenced by the utopianism of her solutions to modern world alienation. However, Arendt’s idea of plurality can usefully supplement Heidegger’s conception of the world with a concrete account of being-with others. The important role she gives to storytelling is also an important resource for understanding the literature’s worldly force.