Helgard Mahrdt: Hannah Arendt – political education and reflective judgment

In this article I examine the human capacity to judge. I start with Hannah Arendt’s reflections on the activity of thinking. It turns out that thinking is a dialogical process between the thinking ego and the self. Thinking has a liberating effect on the faculty of judgment. The two mental activities are closely related, but they are not the same. While thinking is an intercourse with myself and the self, judging anticipates the judgments of others, and potentially of all others. Judging has its own modus operandi and far more to do with making distinctions than with organizing and subsuming the particular under the general. I therefore turn to Arendt’s reception of Kant’s Critique of Judgment. Kant’s third critique provides her with a model of judging where one experiences belonging to a community whenever one is willing to judge. In exercising our ability to judge, we not only practice our membership in a world we have in common, we also contribute towards stabilizing our world. Therefore, it seems to me, we have good reason to say that exercising judgment is an important task for political education.

Keywords: «enlarged mentality», judging, sensus communis, imagination, judgment of taste, world, examples