Arendt, Truth, and Epistemic Responsibility

November 10, 2015

Yasemin Sari

Tuesday, November 10, 4:00PM–6:00PM, Room 2200, SFU Harbour Centre

Taking seriously Arendt’s concerns regarding judgment and decision in texts such as “The Crisis in Culture,” I argue, contra Martin Jay, that Arendt’s understanding of decision does not promote a “decisionistic” model of sovereign politics. While Jay’s interpretation of decision is antithetical to Arendt’s own account of politics as the space for human plurality, I maintain, by contrast, that in its relation to judgment and meaning, decision constitutes a necessary political principle for preserving human plurality. Recognizing that Arendt is not explicit about this, my aim in this paper is to introduce a new concept for understanding the relationship between responsibility and decision into her political framework: the principle of “epistemic responsibility.” Epistemic responsibility becomes a guiding principle in political action, which rests on a thin notion of truth that can provide a more robust account of political action understood as the “accompaniment of speech and deed”. In this sense, this principle allows for a reinterpretation of the relationship between “factual truths” and “meaning-creation” on pluralistic grounds; this, in turn, allows for the emergence of a political space of plural human togetherness as the “topos of responsibility.”

Yasemin Sari has earned her PhD in Philosophy at the University of Alberta. Her dissertation proposes a “recognitive politics” based on Hannah Arendt's understanding of political space. It examines the relationship between Arendt's conception of “the right to have rights” and the condition of visibility, in order to understand the condition of “artificial equality” in its spatial aspect.

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