What We Talk about When We Talk about Political Theory: Reconsidering Hannah Arendt’s “Method” of Political Thinking and its Critiques of the Rawlsian Method of Political Philosophy Today
This paper reconsiders Hannah Arendt’s “method” of political thinking and its implicated critiques of the Rawlsian methodology of political philosophy today, namely, the reflective equilibrium. By addressing Arendt’s approach to political thinking and comparing it with John Rawls’ counterpart, I argue that inasmuch as thinking cannot be reduced to philosophising, the outcome of thinking is by no means nothing but philosophy, either. That is to say, in opposition to the analytic method of normative political philosophy ever since Rawls, I contend that reﬂective equilibrium, as Rawls and some political philosophers proposed, is not the paradigmatic method of thinking on political matters and that political philosophy (or in Rawls’ words the coherent theory) is not the only possible product of political thinking. Based on these points, this paper concludes that Arendt’s approach to political thinking, namely, thinking in plurality and judgmental theory, could provide a trenchant critique of the belief that is held by Rawlsians and most philosophers today. That is, reﬂective equilibrium and political philosophising are neither adequate for theorising politics nor the best way of thinking about political matters.