In the tumult of modern times, Hannah Arendt complains, philosophy, the search for truth, has become “a solitary business” (Canovan 1992, p. 254). Great philosophers have a taste for “rational tyranny” (Sluga 2008, p. 92), and Plato, the father of Western political thought, is hostile to democracy. Political philosophy is shallow and in its triviality contributes to the “banality of evil.” Moreover, the philosopher thinks—or wishes to think—in solitude and disdains the authentically political experience of acting in the polis and among others. Apolitia, the “indifference and contempt for the world of the city,” she continues, characterizes all post-Platonic philosophy (1990, p. 91). Eternal truth, according to such philosophers, is achievable only if the philosopher turns away from the ever-changing polis, the world of “becoming,” and seeks the essential of “being.” As Plato states, “The organ of knowledge must be turned around from the world of becoming together with the entire soul … until the soul is able to endure the contemplation of essence and the brightest region of being, that is to say, that which we call the good” (1994, p. 518d). Understanding the truth, in other words, requires a purified form of reasoning that withdraws from human opinions and passions in the polis and from entanglement in politics. Through this purified reasoning, an apolitical truth/episteme—with a transhistorical content that transcends the ever-changing particulars of everyday life and its constituent doxa—discloses itself to the philosopher who has withdrawn from society.
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