chapter  9
28 Pages

“Who One Is” – A Political Issue? Hannah Arendt on Personhood, Maximal Self, and Bare Life

WithSophie Loidolt

Arendt’s phenomenology of the political puts persons at the center. It is persons who act and who become who they are by interacting with and appearing before others. By generating stories through their actions, persons gain their identities. In this sense, the issue of “who one is” and its intrinsic relation to plurality constitutes a central feature of Arendt’s theory of the political, in its descriptive as well as in its normative aspects. But does this mean conversely that we need the political and the public realm for being persons as such – or, at least, “full persons”? A differentiated answer to this question will be necessary which takes account of the fact that “who one is” is a complex issue on many different levels. This paper intends to map these interrelated levels from the highest forms of “maximal self” down to “bare life.”