Arendt on Action and Performances
I have said that prakta have stability and visibility within the world, so that they transcend the confi nes of any kind of immanence. In keeping with this way of looking at things, I will cast doubt on the phenomenological accuracy of the claim, fraudulently (though not without certain grounds in her texts) attributed to Hannah Arendt, that actions should be considered pure performances, that is, mere displays of virtuosity. The present chapter aims at releasing Arendt’s concept of action from whatever dubious performative implications it may give rise to. I will carry out this project in three steps: fi rst, by pointing out the ways in which pure performativity contradicts Arendt’s own phenomenological commitments; second, by dispelling Arendt’s critical misconceptions of the Aristotelian notion of action; third, by exploiting the important example of promises, which corroborates my argument that Arendt avoids the pitfalls of pure performativity.