Hannah Arendt's Constitutionalism

A special issue of Laws (ISSN 2075-471X).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2024 | Viewed by 3017

Special Issue Editors

Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities, Bard College, Annandale-On-Hudson, NY 12504, USA
Interests: Justice and Jurisprudence; Heidegger, Nietzsche, Kant, Plato, Aristotle; dignity; history and philosophy of science; politics and aesthetics
The Weiss-Livnat Center for Holocaust Research and Education, University of Haifa, Haifa 3498838, Israel
Interests: political theory, particularly Hannah Arendt, John S. Mill; participatory democracy; genocide studies; the Israeli-Palestinian conflict

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Two central chapters in Hannah Arendt's last book On Revolution set the American constitutional tradition at the center of her inquiry into the founding and preservation of political freedom. In "Foundation I: Constitutio Libertatis", Arendt argues that the central innovation of the American revolution was the constitutional embrace of federalism and the "consistent abolition of sovereignty within the body politics of the republic". It is the constitution’s federal principle that allows for the multiplication and flourishing of power within a stable system. The following chapter, "Foundation II: Novus Ordo Saeculorum", offers an original reading of the Supreme Court as the successor of the Roman Senate. The Court's authority allowed the Constitution to come to be worshipped in a way that tied together permanence and change. The combination of power and authority that the U.S. Constitution allows is, Arendt argues, the modern condition for the possibility of founding free government.

Hannah Arendt's reflections on constitutionalism and its implication for domestic and international law, as well as for the relations between countries and between different groups within countries, have garnered renewed interest in recent years. One may think for example of the collection of essays Hannah Arendt and the Law, edited by Marco Goldoni and Chris McCorkindale (2012), Christian Volk's Arendtian Constitutionalism (2015), recent explorations into the tensions between constituent power and constituted power in Arendt's work (Muldoon 2016; Popp-Madsen 2021) and various other essays on this topic that came out in the past decade. This scholarship has opened up new horizons for thinking about Arendt's contribution to constitutional and legal thought and highlighted the way that focusing on these aspects of Arendt's thought allows for new and important perspectives on her political theory as a whole.

This Special Issue seeks to bring Arendt's contribution to constitutional and legal thought and the role these topics play in her thought into a sharper focus. We invite contributions from researchers who are interested in Arendt's constitutional thinking; how she saw constitutions as essential to the ambition of founding freedom; the way she challenged or complemented other constitutional thinkers; the relations between her reflections on (most famously) the American constitution and her understanding of the meaning of politics, federalism and civil disobedience; her support for a council system; and other related topics in Arendt's political theory or in conversation with it.

Prof. Dr. Roger Berkowitz
Dr. Shmuel Lederman
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Published Papers (1 paper)

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25 pages, 341 KiB  
Privacy, Property, and Third-Party Esteem in Arendt’s Constitutionalism
Laws 2023, 12(5), 75; https://doi.org/10.3390/laws12050075 - 23 Aug 2023
Viewed by 945
In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt makes the case that a constitution must account for the need of the human person to participate in the building of society, both as a primordial and continual action of founding. This paper draws on Arendt’s insight [...] Read more.
In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt makes the case that a constitution must account for the need of the human person to participate in the building of society, both as a primordial and continual action of founding. This paper draws on Arendt’s insight on the relationship between privacy and the notion of property, both of which the constitution must protect, as it is dependent on those notions. Property in its fullest sense is the means by which a person interacts with others and establishes a society. Particularly important for this notion of engagement are the concepts of shame and the love of goodness. The actor emerges from the private sphere to interact with others on the strength of the secrecy and confidentiality of her intimate, private relationships. Property is therefore essential to human flourishing and happiness. Following this, the activity of constructing the public forum on the basis of the private is an important feature of Arendt’s constitutionalism. Human Action showers third-party esteem on the actor’s family and friends, binding them to the constitutional structure and strengthening familial relationships and social cohesion. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Hannah Arendt's Constitutionalism)
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