Hannah Arendt on Free Speech

Apropos of this week’s media storm:

“Free speech has always come in many different forms and with many meanings, and even in antiquity it had about it that odd ambiguity that still clings to it today. The key thing, however, both then and now, is not that a person can say whatever he pleases, or that each of us has an inherent right to express himself just as he is. The point is, rather, that we know from experience that no one can adequately grasp the objective world in its full reality all on his own, because the world always shows and reveals itself to him from only one perspective, which corresponds to his standpoint in the world and is determined by it. If someone wants to see and experience the world as it “really” is, he can do so only by understanding it as something that is shared by many people, lies between them, separates them, showing itself differently to each and comprehensible only to the extent that many people can talk about it and exchange their opinions and perspectives with one another, over against one another. Only in the freedom of our speaking with one another does the world, as that about which we speak, emerge in its objectivity and visibility from all sides.” Hannah Arendt – The Promise of Politics.


  1. Reblogged this on The Turning Spiral and commented:
    In the last week, there has been endless and often emotion-charged debate about rights to free speech. Thanks to Jeremy Schmidt for posting this piece by Hannah Arendt.

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