Bucy, Brendan C. “Robust Citizenship and Democracy”, Boston College, 2017. http://hdl.handle.net/2345/bc-ir:107299.
Hannah Arendt contends that one can find in Thucydides' presentation of Pericles a “pure” form of politics, unadulterated by the advent of philosophy in general and of liberal political philosophy in particular. Periclean political practice, Arendt argues, is therefore a superior alternative to liberalism-superior because it is more authentic and hence more satisfying to permanent human political longings. After clarifying Arendt's claims about the pre-Socratic understanding of politics embodied in Pericles' statesmanship, the dissertation proceeds to test that account against a close reading of Thucydides' presentation of Pericles. Arendt's claim that Pericles' political practice is driven by a desire to escape the futility of human existence by creating an “immortal” story of his fame or glory proves to be unsubstantiated by Thucydides' account. To be sure, Pericles does seek glory, both for himself and for Athenians in general. But Arendt overlooks Pericles' preoccupation with deserving glory. Pericles' concern with cultivating Athenian citizens who can claim responsibility for their actions, and hence deserve praise for those actions, forces him to confront the complexities of human moral freedom and practical judgment in ways that Arendt ignores or overlooks.