For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The end of action: An arendtian critique of Aristotle's concept of praxis"

by Backman, Jussi (2010)


Arendt’s concept of action, which she distinguishes from other human activities as the eminently political activity, is often regarded as a renewal of Aristotle’s concept of praxis. Arendt’s own remarks easily lead us to think that she is simply “rehabilitating” action from its Aristotelian subordination to contemplation. I will argue that in interpreting contemplation in its pure self-referentiality as the supreme kind of praxis, Aristotle is, in fact, realigning the pre-philosophical notion of action itself along the lines of the teleological means-end structure of production (poiēsis). Consequently, Arendt’s critique of philosophy’s traditional “forgetfulness” of action, which she sees as ultimately culminating in the totalitarian substitution of social production for political action, can be understood as a critique of the Aristotelian notion of praxis as such, along with its presuppositions. The roots of this critique can be traced back to Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle


Arendt, Aristotle, Praxis, Action, Acting, Judgement, Heidegger, Poiēsis


On Heidegger, On Aristotle, On Arendt

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