Hannah Arendt on Authority: Conservatism in Education Reconsidered
This chapter presents Hannah Arendt's conservatism as a unique approach that resists the reactionary tendencies of many conservative arguments. It first shows that Arendt's conception of authority shares a number of fundamental assumptions with the mainstream conservative view of authority. However, the political philosophy that Arendt developed is far from being "conservative" since it is heavily influenced by her existentialist convictions. This unusual blend of a traditional view of authority with an existentialist approach to politics shapes her ideas on education. The chapter compares Arendt's view on authority in education to mainstream conservative approaches and argue that her view constitutes a genuine alternative to these approaches, one that throws fresh light on the meaning of conservatism in education. Finally, it explores the implications of Arendt's insights on authority for the debate on democratic education. The chapter also shows that, unlike the views of two mainstream conservatives, Arendt's conception of pedagogical authority has a number of important implications for democratic education.