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Article

The Life of the Work: Virno’s Reception of Arendt’s Political Theory

Russian Sociological Review. 2018. Vol. 17. No. 4. P. 158-174.
Третьяк А. Р.

Since antiquity, political philosophy has been occupied with basic human capacities, dividing them into three main realms: work, action. and intellect. The definition and aims of these capacities, as well as their relation to the main human virtues, were elaborated in Aristotle’s Ethics. This work is a starting point of a long tradition of reflection on the human condition. Its further development was incorporated by Hannah Arendt into her more-modernized political theory. Following Aristotle, Arendt defines two main spheres: vita activa and vita contemplativa. An attempt to redefine the main terms of this tradition was made by an Italian political philosopher, Paolo Virno, who combines it with Marxism. For this, Virno turned to Arendt’s political thought. He follows the central idea that the ability of action is connected with speech and has a virtuosic character. However, in his perception of Arendt’s theory Virno tries to blur the boundaries between other concepts of her political philosophy. The goals of this article are to explore the ways that the reception of Arendt’s ideas has shaped Virno’s political thought, and to analyze how his approach is able to cope with the main problems that she poses in her political theory. In his interpretation of Arendt’s political thought, Virno tries to redefine the distinctions that she draws, and to combine the spheres of praxis, intellect, and work. According to the author of this paper, this strategy does not always succeed in accurately covering all aspects of Arendt’s political thought