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Comparing Bauman and Arendt: three important differences

Bowring, Finn ORCID: 2011. Comparing Bauman and Arendt: three important differences. Sociology 45 (1) , pp. 54-69. 10.1177/0038038510387186

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Hannah Arendt is a frequent reference point in Zygmunt Bauman’s writings. This article explains Arendt’s influence on Bauman, and then identifies three important differences in their work. The first is that Arendt’s account of totalitarianism departs from the Weberian theory of bureaucratic rationalization. The second is that Arendt believes sentiments of compassion are corrosive rather than productive of civilized public life. The third is that Arendt defines the moral conscience as a relationship with oneself rather than the other, and that this relationship is not a form of action. Arendt argued that the moral self is unpolitical because of this, but that in periods of social crisis the negative character of the moral conscience may become a precious source of political defiance. I conclude by suggesting that Arendt’s conception of morality could be a starting point for the kind of ‘ethics of self-limitation’ which Bauman believes is necessary to mitigate the destructive consequences of liquid modernity.

Item Type: Article
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: Social Sciences (Includes Criminology and Education)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > B Philosophy (General)
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Arendt; Bauman; Durkheim; morality; totalitarianism
Publisher: Sage
ISSN: 0038-0385
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2022 08:29

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