Friendship Special #3 Jaspers

Don't miss the third of our special Friendship podcast series based on our Summer Virtual Reading Group on Arendt & Friendship.  Hannah Arendt, whose thinking is at the heart of our center, was said to have a “genius for friendship.” Known as a political thinker, Arendt wrote to her friend Gershom Scholem that she could never love a state or a political people, but only her friends. For Arendt, “only in misfortune do we find out who our true friends are.” It is our true friends, she wrote, “to whom we unhesitatingly reveal happiness and whom we count on to share our rejoicing.” Arendt prized the humanity of intimate friendships where “friends open their hearts to each other unmolested by the world and its demands.” As much as she believed in the power of intimate friendship, Arendt also understood what she called “the political relevance of friendship.”  The world is not humane simply because it is made by human beings. Rather, the things of this world only become human “when we can discuss them with our fellows.” For Arendt, it follows that in public life, “friendship is not intimately personal but makes political demands and preserves reference to the world.” The common world is thus held together by friendship.Politics and friendship both are based in the act of talking with others. There are no absolutes in either friendship or politics, where everything emerges from the act of speaking and acting in concert with others. Thus, Arendt insists there is no truth in politics. In politics it is opinion and not truth that matters. Absent truth, what holds the political world together is friendships, our sober and rational love for our fellow citizens.That friendship emerges in conversation and that conversation, and not the revelation of truths from on high, is the source of political consensus. That is why Arendt can say, with Cicero, “I prefer before heaven to go astray with Plato than hold true views with his opponents.”  She means that friendship more so than truth is the foundation of a meaningful political world.   See more about our Annual Conference, Friendship & Politics.

Om Podcasten

The Hannah Arendt Center presents the Amor Mundi Podcast. This episode, Roger Berkowitz talks with Martin Gurri, author of The Revolt of the Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium.