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Hannah Arendt: from Property to Capital ... and Back?

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Scant attention has been paid to the notion of property in Hannah Arendt's thought, and this paper aims to address this gap. For Arendt, property is the realm of privacy, located in the house. She argues that the modern age represented its loss with the expropriation of the peasant classes after the Reformation. As a result, wealth started to be accumulated and became productive through the labor of the new propertyless classes. This new way of dealing with property needed a new notion of property for the laborers. Locke's understanding gave the laborers the hope of being property-owners through their labor and simultaneously justified the unending accumulation of money; nevertheless, property in its true meaning was never recovered. Arendt believes that recovering property under conditions of equality is an essential consideration, and this egalitarian vision of property only can be achieved if law protects property as well as set limits on the accumulation of wealth.
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Keywords: CAPITAL; HANNAH ARENDT; JOHN LOCKE; PRIVATE PROPERTY; WEALTH

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: April 1, 2018

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  • Archiv für Rechts- und Sozialphilosophie, edited by authorisation of the International Association for Philosophy of Law and Social Philosophy (IVR), is an international, peer-reviewed journal, first published in 1907. It features original articles on philosophical research on legal and social questions, covering all aspects of social and legal life.
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