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Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication

With a Foreword by Richard J. Bernstein and an Afterword by John Durham Peters

Edited By Jason Hannan

Philosophical Profiles in the Theory of Communication is the first book to draw systematic attention to the theme of communication in twentieth-century academic philosophy. It covers a broad range of philosophical perspectives on communication, including those from analytic philosophy, pragmatism, critical theory, phenomenology, hermeneutics, feminism, psychoanalysis, systems theory, and more. What emerges is a vital, long-neglected story about the theme of communication in late modern academic philosophy. Each chapter features a «profile» of a particular philosophical figure, with a brief intellectual biography, an overview of that figure’s contribution to communication theory, and a critical assessment of the significance of that contribution. The clear and accessible organization of the volume makes it ideal for courses in both philosophy and communication studies.


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1 Hannah Arendt: Public Action, Sociality, and Permanence in the World STUART POYNTZ 9


1 Hannah Arendt Public Action, Sociality, and Permanence in the World STUART POYNTZ ________________________________________ Might the problem of good and evil, our faculty for telling right from wrong, be connected with our faculty of thought? […] Could the activity of thinking as such, the habit of examining whatever happens to come to pass or attract attention, regard- less of results and specific contents, could this activity be among the conditions that make men abstain from evil-doing or even actually “condition” them against it? —Hannah Arendt, The Life of the Mind, 5 Scholars have been rethinking the work of the political philosopher Hannah Arendt for more than twenty years. Early efforts coincided with the English translation of Jürgen Habermas’ The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere in 1989, but they have since evolved across a range of disciplines, including politics, philosophy, education, legal studies, international relations, and women’s studies. Revisiting Arendt’s legacy has often involved “reading Arendt against Arendt,”1 efforts that have no doubt left their mark in communication studies. Still, Arendt remains a figure for circumspection in the field. At once regarded for her novel theory of the public realm, she at the same time is often treated with a kind of suspicion reserved for those conservative thinkers whose wariness of the modern age would seem to offer little for understanding complex, highly mediated twenty-first-century societies. If this wariness is part of Arendt’s legacy, I suggest that the Arendt many encountered in an earlier time is not the same Arendt...

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