Hannah Arendt’s thought responds to what she believes to be the greatest danger and challenge of the modern age—the loss of belief in transcendent truth catalyzed by the rise of science. Without the structure and framework that transcendent truth traditionally provided communities, without the age-old distinction between humanity and the divine, the door has been opened to the possibility of realizing the divine on earth. The perfection of humanity has become an option. The dangers inherent in this modern situation are, for Arendt, exemplified by the atrocities of the totalitarian regimes of the 20th century. However, Arendt does not believe that a reconstruction of the old pillars of transcendent truth is possible or necessarily desirable. Thus Arendt is a thinker caught between a resigned recognition of the inevitability of the loss of faith and a deep awareness of the dangers engendered by this development. This work begins by examining Arendt’s distinction between the public and private realms, it then turns to the decline of this distinction in the modern age with the rise of totalitarianism, and ends by examining the important role she assigns to the faculty of judgment. By tracing the larger arch of Arendt’s thought, this paper presents Arendt’s work as an attempt to discover a new kind of transcendent standard that could provide the necessary framework for a community without falling back upon the traditional reliance on revelation and faith. The core argument of this work is that Arendt locates such a standard in the public realm, the realm that she exalts above all others. For Arendt, the public realm is the place in which a common humanity, a humanitas, is revealed through the processes of interaction and judgment that take place between individuals.
On February 1st, 2016, the World Health Organization declared the Zika epidemic a public health emergency of international concern. With the second highest rate of Zika infection behind Brazil, Colombia offers an interesting case study for the sociopolitical effects of disease, particularly in post-conflict societies. Just recently emerging from a violent past, Colombia demonstrates a surprisingly high level of state capacity in certain regions but exercises almost no control over others. It also boasts a robust health care system, lauded by both the World Bank and WHO, and some of the most progressive reproductive rights laws in the region. Through both primary and secondary research, this study explores the ways in which Colombia’s response to this exogenous threat both reinforces and defies theories of state capacity, inequities in health care, and the impact of disease on economic and political stability, particularly in post-conflict zones.
This paper analyzes the twentieth-century political philosopher Eric Voegelin’s Gnosis-thesis put forth in The New Science of Politics, focusing particularly on his treatment of the medieval abbot and theologian, Joachim of Fiore. It explores Joachim’s life, works, and connection to three symbols designated by Voegelin as being central to Western political thought: the Third Realm, the Brotherhood, and the Last Leader. While these concepts had been around before Joachim’s time, the repeated association between them and the abbot’s works and pseudo-prophecies based on his works significantly influenced European politics for decades to come. Joachim is more correctly categorized as an apocalyptic thinker than a Gnostic one, but Voegelin was right to position the abbot as a liminal figure in Western politics and history.