Between Performance and Participation: The Time of Action in Hannah Arendt
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This thesis takes up the debate between the agonal and deliberative interpretations of Hannah Arendt's conception of political action. In it, I redeem the model of action as performance found in her descriptions of agonal politics and pull emphasis away from the deliberative model of communicative action on the basis of Arendt's ontology of temporality and her account of the witnessing and judging spectatorship that preserves the meaningfulness of human events against oblivion. I find the danger of this loss of meaning accounted for by the agonal model in the syncopated relationship between spectator and actor. The deliberative model of communicative action, however, collapses the roles of actor and spectator into the uniform role of participant and replaces experiential grounds of legitimacy with atemporal rational grounds. Communicative action is unable to account for the public realm as a space of endurance and skirts the ontological stakes of Arendt's agonal politics.