(Re)thinking the «public sphere» with Arendt and Habermas


  • Vladimir Fours EHU
Keywords: Arendt, Habermas, political philosophy, social theory, public sphere, publicness, social imaginary


[In English]

The term «public» is polysemantic; its meaning varies accordingly to that what is actually articulated by the opposition «private/public», which in turn may be regarded from this or that angle and in various contexts. Nevertheless, there is one meaning of the term, which is especially relevant to a contemporary political philosophy: «publicness» refers here to a key principle of a solidary political community and of the politics beyond the play of mere instrumental concerns. «Public sphere» is the notion, which is simultaneously empirical and normative: this principle is largely institutionalized in modern democracies, yet it embodies the utopian expectations transcending any empirically possible form and state of political life. Reasoning about the «public sphere», thuswise understood, occurred in the 20th century’s political thought for the greater part in a nostalgic and pessimistic manner; however, in the nineties the democratic optimism was worldwide associated just with the multidimensional developments of the public sphere. Realities of the capitalist globalization crossed out a lot of naïve hopes, yet the idea of «public» remains its significance, be it in the context of the «democratization of democracy» or in the post-communist settings. In the paper it is intended to discuss the relative strengths and weaknesses of the conceptions of a «public sphere» in Habermas and Arendt with respect to theorizing the actual transformations and emancipatory potential of the public sphere.


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How to Cite
Fours, V. (2020). (Re)thinking the «public sphere» with Arendt and Habermas. Topos, (2 (19), 94-100. Retrieved from http://journals.ehu.lt/index.php/topos/article/view/700
Boundaries of the Political, Democracy and Totalitarianism