Ausgabe 1, Band 11 – Dezember 2021


Nature and politics have been opposites in the history of Western ideas for a long time – albeit not undisputed. Today, it is vital to overcome this dualism and understand nature, too, as a political concept.

As far as nature and politics are concerned, Hannah Arendt is largely a representative of this Western tradition. We find in her a concept of nature that objectifies nature as "physis" and contrasts it with the man-made “world” and politics. Her scattered reflections on nature and politics, which we have compiled into a “document” following a manuscript prepared by Helmut König, offer nonetheless a number of suggestions if not to deconstruct this confrontation then at least to turn it around productively so that nature is not understood as something outside politics.

In this issue, pursues these ideas –  with Hannah Arendt and beyond Hannah Arendt.

With the help of analyses by Husserl, Arendt, Lovelock, Margulis and Latour, Antonio Campillo provides a fundamental overview of the human relationship to nature from the scientific and philosophical revolution at the beginning of the modern era to the enabling of nuclear and ecological self-destruction since the twentieth century.

Toni Cerkez shows that Arendt’s reflections on modernity and the interweaving of capital, science and technology give us a wealth of critical insights into the conditions underlying the emergence of the Anthropocene and its political features. Recent writings by Dipesh Chakrabarty, with their hope for a revival of wonder and awe as features of a new science and a “new universalism” or new “global politics”, allow for expanding Arendt’s concept of agency to include the aspect of a politics that is no longer anthropomorphic.

Jonathan Wren’s contribution presents a perspective – beyond a romantic or technocratic reaction to the environmental crisis – on the Arendtian relationship to the world as a shared complex space in which plurality-based dissent as a key element of political intersubjectivity has a special significance.

Given the immediate threats posed by the environmental crisis, Marie Wuth asks about the foundations of a sustainable relationship between nature and politics within the framework of the Arendtian understanding of action and politics. To enable the conditions for and meaning of politics in harmony with nature, she suggests extending Arendt’s conceptual toolkit in terms of “circular politics” and “planetary boundaries”.

Ari-Elmeri Hyvönen advances a “material culture of care” from the relationship perspective of humans and nature, which draws on Arendt's commentary on the Roman concept of colere, the cultivation of nature, and conveys a concept of care embedded in the material interdependencies of the “web of life”.

Veronika Vasterling traces Arendt‘s shift in terms of concepts of world and plurality from “The Human Condition” to “The Life of the Mind”. She no longer defines world as the human dwelling that excludes the animal world, but as nature producing both humans and animals, and plurality as a phenomenon no longer related to humans alone, but to all living beings.

Florian Pistrol and Melanie Mayerhofer addresses Agamben’s extreme response to political measures against the Corona pandemic. They establish that he erroneously bases his theses on biopolitics on Arendt and comes close to conspiracy theories in his vision of doom. By pointing to the interplay of human action with nature and offering a positive concept of political action, Arendt delivers a positive alternative to Agamben’s impotence.

Finally, Werner Bätzing deals with the practical political overcoming of the modern instrumental relationship to nature, which is based on domination and exploitation, and uses the example of the Alps and Alpine cultural landscapes to describe how pre-modern societies were able to use and alter nature without destroying it. From this, conclusions can be drawn for today's environmental issues.

We would like to thank Maike Weißpflug for her inspiring contribution as guest editor to the preparation of this issue. 

The editorial team