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Thinking Allegory Otherwise$
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Brenda Machosky

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780804763806

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: June 2013

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9780804763806.001.0001

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On Vitality, Figurality, and Orality in Hannah Arendt

On Vitality, Figurality, and Orality in Hannah Arendt

(p.237) Ten On Vitality, Figurality, and Orality in Hannah Arendt
Thinking Allegory Otherwise

Karen Feldman

Stanford University Press

This chapter argues that allegory as a form of metaphysical language constitutes the conditions of thinking and philosophy. It demonstrates how allegory provides the means for “imageless thought” (or thinking without ideas) and how the process of metaphorization makes “imageless thought” possible because figurality bridges the “two worlds” that play an essential role in Western philosophy. It also challenges the notion that allegory is a hierarchy that privileges the signified, the meaning, over the sign or the figure. The chapter shows that Hannah Arendt brings out the allegory of uncertainty in the history of philosophy, but does not fully realize the allegory of uncertainty within her own thought on figuration. In Life of the Mind, Arendt explains how abstract concepts and philosophical thought depend on what she initially refers to as “vitally metaphorical” language. Here Arendt essentially follows a conventional explication of literality versus figurality. This chapter argues that the significance of speech for Arendt situates the mouth at the center of philosophical thought and genuine politics.

Keywords:   allegory, philosophy, politics, speech, Life of the Mind, Hannah Arendt, imageless thought, literality, figurality, metaphorization

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