Rafał Zawisza


PhD candidate in Cultural Studies, University of Warsaw

Junior Visiting Fellow
(July – August 2016)


Natalism as a Third Attempt to Overcome Gnosis

Hans Blumenberg stated that modernity, after Christianity, was the second attempt to overcome gnosis. Since modernity is endangered, the role of its upholder was assumed by Hannah Arendt’s natalism, reflection on natality, forming the hidden core of her writings. It constitutes a retroactive riposte for the revival of Augustinian problematic in German Lebensphilosophie. Arendt’s secular messianism, sprang from the fact of birth, heralds a philosophy of life that cannot be expressed in biopolitical vocabulary which remains insusceptible to cryptotheology.



Previous stays at the IWM:
July – December 2015, Józef Tischner Visiting Fellow

Pevious poject:
Hannah Arendt’s Early Thought as a Response to the Political Theology

The early works of Hannah Arendt – Der Liebesbegriff bei Augustin and Rahel Varnhagen – greatly inspired her later thought. Arendt indirectly participated in the Weimar political-theological debates, and her defence of the ‘pretheological sphere’ could be seen as a critical response to Carl Schmitt’s political theology. She was also influenced by Max Weber’s theory of secularization and studies on Jewry. The project aims at contextualizing Arendt within the Weimar debates, in which contemporary discussions on secularization still remain rooted.


From Ordinary Exception to Exemplary Exclusion: Arendt-Jaspers Epistolary Exchange on Jewishness and Nationality

This text relates to the philosophical dissent between Hannah Arendt and Karl Jaspers from the 1930s, when they were bitterly discussing the question of national rootedness and human groundlessness on the basis of a nascent biography of Rahel Varnhagen (a German Jewess from Romantic epoch) that Arendt was writing at that time. When it comes to method, it is particularly important to stress that the text examines the concepts used by Jaspers and Arendt in their private correspondence: since the status of these concepts was unstable, in a process of establishing distinctions, an emphasis is put more on the context of their appearance than on their supposed meaning. In effect, concepts uncover their strategic, polemical dimension, which is in that case their only initial, unstable meaning, which usually remains invisible.
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