From the perspective of quite different theoretical traditions, Simone Weil and Hannah Arendt present nearly identical and equally powerful critiques of technological determinism in modernity. Yet unlike Arendt, Weil develops a concept of work that draws a distinction between technology and instrumental action as “methodical thinking.” As a result, Weil's theory of action embraces something that Arendt's theatrical politics rejects—a concept of liberatory instrumentality, or purposeful performance. I shall reassess some of the inadequacies of Arendt's concept of work and develop Simone Weil's concept of methodical thinking in order to argue for a more neighborly affinity between work:interaction and purposeful:theatrical performance than Arendtian public realm theory, for all its power, currently allows. If such an affinity is possible, then public realm theory might be more adequately equipped to deliver on what I take to be its promise as an emancipatory project in late modernity.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science
- Political Science and International Relations