Ambivalence of power
Heidegger's das Man and Arendt's acting in concert
This essay analyses how Arendt transforms Heidegger's critique of the anyone (das Man) in Being and Time into the philosophical concept of power as acting in concert in The Human Condition. The essay highlights the similarities as well as the differences of both concepts by focusing on their inherent ambivalences. In Heidegger's critique of das Man, this ambivalence derives from the combination of an existential and a historical perspective, which turn social life into both a condition for and a fallenness from authentic existence. Arendt aims to overcome this ambiguity with her concept of Acting in Concert as a condition for political empowerment, freedom and new beginning. In her Denktagebuch, the emphasis on beginning as an event is inspired by a heterodox reading of Heidegger's mature thought. But despite Arendt's attempt to overcome the negative aspects of das Man as a form of conventionalism by stressing instead the elements of plurality and freedom, the ambivalence of Heidegger's das Man reappears in Arendt's concept of acting in concert the very moment it is identified as political, i. e. democratic, power. It is the necessity of gaining majorities that expose democratic interactions to the threat of conformism. Turning Arendt against Heidegger and Heidegger against Arendt, this essay offers an understanding of democracy that encompasses this ambivalence of das Man.
Full citation [Harvard style]:
Meyer, K. (2017)., Ambivalence of power: Heidegger's das Man and Arendt's acting in concert, in H. B. Schmid & G. Thonhauser (eds.), From conventionalism to social authenticity, Dordrecht, Springer, pp. 157-178.
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