Political Science Seminar: Gaye İlhan Demiryol (Yale University)


Sabancı University

Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences



Arendt and Benjamin:
Modernity, Tradition, and History as Progress



Gaye İlhan Demiryol
Postdoctoral Associate
The MacMillan Center for International and Area Studies
Yale University



Wednesday, 29 Şubat 2012
13:00 - 14:30
FASS 2034


The project explores the relationship between a progressive understanding of history and freedom. It challenges the Hegelian notion of history, a dialectical movement towards the realization of human freedom, which entrusts the human affairs to a flowing process, the meaning of which will only be revealed at the end of history. In its stead, she develops a notion of politics and political action grounded in Arendt’s political philosophy, which promotes the individual as an acting being and political actions as self-contained events, the value of which can only be redeemed in the public realm.

In this talk, she will examine the influence of Benjamin’s method of fragmentary historiography on Arendt’s understanding of historical narrative. She argues that Arendt and Benjamin shared a common understanding of the problems of modernity. Both thinkers perceived the contemporary conditions of existence as defined on the one hand by an understanding of history as progress and on the other hand a break with the tradition of philosophy. She demonstrates that Benjamin’s fragmented history, adopted by Arendt in response to this contemporary politico-philosophical crisis, allows for redeeming the past as basis of a future-oriented philosophy.