Meaning Analysis

Arendt Poder

Meaning analysis addresses power and immortality.

As we have discovered, thinkers views on History are varied, many focusing on its reliability or its misuse in politics. Hannah Arendt writes one of the uses of history is to arm us with the requisite knowledge to engage the world, our polis, through politics in the form of speech and action–but she insists that this action is enough: as a part of our Human Condition, we should expect no more. Her second use of History positions it with poetry and art as the record of humanity’s great actions, the artifacts that make us immortal. (Whose actions would reverberate through History if no one wrote of them? If a tree falls in a forest…?)

William Faulkner finds Arendt’s view lacking, insisting that not only will we survive our Human Condition, we will endure–we will prevail. After the last dingdong of doom, humanity will not fade pathetically out with a whimper, but through our voices we will project our souls and our spirits and lift the hearts of our co-habitants of this small planet.

The aim of this course will be to determine who is right by exploring at the following historical phenomena and functions outlined by Arendt, which we will refer to as the “Historical Ps.”Arendt Argues that these Ps provoke historical judgement that is far more important than the Hegelian analysis scaffolded through the Historical Cs.

  • Predecessors — a thing that has been followed or replaced by another.
  • Precedents — an earlier event or action that is regarded as an example or guide to be considered in subsequent similar circumstances.
  • Potentiality — the possibility for re-occurrences of the precedents and predecessors analyzed (e.g. Totalitarianism, War, Genocide) 
  • Power — the ability to engage the polis through speech and action: as an end in itself (à la Arendt) or as a means to prevail (à la Faulkner) 

The aim of this course is to muddle through these views, form our own, and forge our world.