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Hannah Arendt, the problem of the absolute and the paradox of constitutionalism, or ‘How to restart time within an inexorable time continuum’

Lindsay, Adam

Authors

ADAM LINDSAY Adam.Lindsay3@nottingham.ac.uk
Assistant Professor in Political Theory_



Abstract

Contemporary theorists of constituent power recognise a tension in which the omnipotent novelty of constituent power is necessarily policed by constituted power. Beginning with Arendt’s claim that the categories of constitutional stability and political novelty should be thought together rather than treated as oppositional, this article presents an interpretation of her work that seeks to address this ‘paradox of constitutionalism’. Whilst commentators have come to assert that Arendt repudiates ‘absolutes’ in favour of an account of ‘relative beginnings’, this article demonstrates that Arendt’s argument involves a critical redescription of the absolute, rather than a repudiation. This is significant, for it illuminates the manner in which her account of founding seeks to dismantle the commonplace temporalisations we attribute to our political vocabulary. This is employed to argue that particular stylings of absolutes naturalise the appearance of the new only as temporal ruptures, allowing us to get a handle upon the paradox of constitutionalism, and to think tentatively beyond this paradigm.

Citation

Lindsay, A. (2017). Hannah Arendt, the problem of the absolute and the paradox of constitutionalism, or ‘How to restart time within an inexorable time continuum’. Philosophy and Social Criticism, 43(10), doi:10.1177/0191453717701990

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 5, 2017
Online Publication Date Apr 19, 2017
Publication Date Apr 19, 2017
Deposit Date May 9, 2017
Publicly Available Date May 9, 2017
Journal Philosophy and Social Criticism
Print ISSN 0191-4537
Electronic ISSN 1461-734X
Publisher SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 43
Issue 10
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0191453717701990
Keywords Arendt, constituent power, paradox of constitutionalism, founding, temporality
Public URL http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/42645
Publisher URL http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/0191453717701990
Copyright Statement Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingh.../end_user_agreement.pdf
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Copyright Statement
Copyright information regarding this work can be found at the following address: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/end_user_agreement.pdf





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