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Constituent PowerLaw, Popular Rule and Politics$
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Matilda Arvidsson, Leila Brännström, and Panu Minkkinen

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781474454971

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9781474454971.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM EDINBURGH SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.edinburgh.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Edinburgh University Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ESO for personal use.date: 19 May 2022

Public Space, Public Time: Constitution and the Relay of Authority in Arendt’s On Revolution

Public Space, Public Time: Constitution and the Relay of Authority in Arendt’s On Revolution

(p.43) 2 Public Space, Public Time: Constitution and the Relay of Authority in Arendt’s On Revolution
Constituent Power

Emily Zakin

Edinburgh University Press

In On Revolution, Hannah Arendt addresses the central conundrum of legitimacy: the source of authority to found a new political form. On Arendt’s account, for revolutionary founding to evade the twin dangers of an infinite regress or a vicious circle, and to succeed in the constitution of a political body, it must enact and invoke both a worldly and a temporal component. To understand the bond between authority, constitution, and constituent power, Arendt thus analyzes the exchange between political space and political time. For the inauguration of a stable and secure public space, the events of founding must permit the independence of what it founds, unbinding the founding deed from the worldly object. For the inauguration of enduring public time, the constitutional document must contain a principle of self-preservation or endurance, allowing the present to appeal to both the past (ancestors) and the future (descendants). By thus distinguishing the authority of a constituted document, which maintains jurisdiction through time, both from the public theater within which the people’s plurality, creativity, and power can flourish, and from inaugural violence, the authoritative relay between space and time also sustains a politics of inheritance that moves between binding and unbinding.

Keywords:   Hannah Arendt, public things, authority, inheritance, isonomy 

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