The Tradition of Political Thought

In The Promise of Politics Hannah Arendt examines the abyss that opened between thought and action – a tradition beginning with Plato and culminating with Marx.  A tradition that ultimately fails.

At our last meetup we critiqued her essay “Socrates,” where she proposed that Plato, writing under the full impact of a politically decaying society, attempted to reconcile the gulf between philosophy and politics that opened historically with the trial and condemnation of Socrates.  This provided the context for Arendt’s view that a philosophy of politics wrestles with the possibilities that arise from the relationship between the philosophers sense of “speechless wonder at that which is as it is” and “the living together with others that begins with living together with oneself.”

At this event, we will critique and discuss the next essay in The Promise of Politics: “The Tradition of Political Thought.”  Here we move into the Roman world, where remembering the past becomes a matter of tradition, and political action now consists of the foundation and preservation of a civitas.  This tradition becomes sacred, and is preserved and handed down by authority.  With the full strength of the Roman spirit, this Roman Trinity takes root, and the roles of religion, authority, and tradition become inseparable.

Then, somewhere along the line, the idea of forgiveness creeps in…

If you are unable to purchase or borrow the book, you can request a PDF version by emailing

CTC Discussion
The Tradition of Political Thought
October 17th, 6pm
October 24th, 6pm
Harold Washington Library
5th Floor North Study Room
6th Floor North Study Room

Space is limited so please RSVP using the form below.

RSVP list is currently full. Check back for future events, or follow us on Twitter to be in the loop about future events.

By Rick Osborn

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