This guest column suggests that we should follow Hannah Arendt in resisting the urge to expound doctrines or systems and, instead, should disclose the processes of our thought as they are “in motion.” While we should not hesitate to express judgments, our aim in intellectual work should be to occasion (and experience) surprise. Like Arendt, we should candidly express “the bliss of thought” as we think and write. On this basis, the political arena can become “a space for self-analysis and (by analogy with psychoanalysis) continuous rebirth.” And it is only on this basis, Kristeva argues, that reconstruction, after a century of unprecedented destruction, be accomplished without our succumbing to nostalgia. Efforts at reconstruction must be undertaken, as Arendt undertook them, “in light of the history of nihilism” and “in the name of sheer survival.” Kristeva joins Arendt in advising against a return to foundationalism while at the same time urging the development of a kind of “re-foundationalism.” Kristeva concludes by showing how, in these attitudes, Arendt's thinking was—despite her notorious dismissal of psychoanalysis—in tune with those of Freud.

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