In “Truth and Politics” Hannah Arendt defends opinion against the judgment of the philosophical tradition. This defense risks misinterpretation as epistemologically nihilistic unless read in conjunction with Arendt's position on facts and acting in concert. What Arendt prizes in opinion is its performative dimension rather than its constative dimension where it falls short of truth. It is opinion as action that Arendt rehabilitates: she subscribes to the philosophical tradition's harsh verdict on the pseudotruths of an anonymous and repressive public opinion. For opinion to be an action, for action to be recognizable as such, there has to be a world beyond each given opinion and action on which they leave a mark. This world, irreducible in its diversity and historical contingency to rational truth, is the arena common to facts and action. To acknowledge the facts is to trust in the testimony of others, but if this trust is not to be gullibility, if it is not to mistake the facts for lies and vice versa, it stands in need of judgment.
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Research Article| August 01 2013
James Phillips; Between the Tyranny of Opinion and the Despotism of Rational Truth: Arendt on Facts and Acting in Concert. New German Critique 1 August 2013; 40 (2 (119)): 97–112. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/0094033X-2077717
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