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.As the subject matter of the narrative of a human life, action forms the content—the acts, deeds, events—their stories recount.It is the specific, concrete, and sui generis actions an actor undertakes that reveals the “whoness” of the actor, their unique identity.Only that actor and that actor alone would have summoned up that unique, particular response to the circumstances that were presented to them in the world.The action is something completely original to the actor, something that could never have been predicted on the basis of antecedent causes.Arendt argues that action is exclusively characterized by its extraordinariness, and thus human historical reality is the story of events enacted by human agents.136Arendt’s notion of action has both inspired and perplexed her readers.Many struggle with how her account of human agency can be intelligible once our ability to predict the outcome of our acts becomes so ambiguous.If we have no control over the outcome of our actions, does this not render our agency moot? I want to argue here that this is not necessarily so.Instead, it only significantly attenuates and complicates it, that the actor’s agency involves trying to, in Arendt’s words, “force things into a certain direction.”137 Because action is something that is essentially intersubjective, it appears as if any description of the causality of action could never be characterized in terms of a simplistic cause/effect logic.138 Thus, the first presumption that has to be abandoned is any easy understanding of the causality occurring in human agency in terms of fabrication—of an effect achieved by our acts that is the result of an antecedent mechanical or efficient cause.If human ontology truly is at its basis a narrative or story that conditions our epistemological and historical frameworks in the way Heidegger suggests, then the sense of causality associated with it has to be reconceived in a much more sophisticated manner.Contemporary philosophers such as Charles Taylor, for instance, have noted the likely impossibility of ever performing a complete reduction of historical phenomena to physical mechanism.139 But even beyond the metaphysically contested nature of causality, our phenomenal conception of causality has always been marked by much more sophistication than the mechanistic conception of cause and effect.Aristotle, for instance, famously theorized a fourfold phenomenology of causality, none of which—not even causa efficiens—coheres exactly with the modern mechanistic conception of causality.In his essay “The Question Concerning Technology,” Heidegger embraced this conception of causality, arguing that authentic human causality is never sovereign causality: it recognizes that human action never truly enacts its will, but instead has the sense of cultivating and abetting that which proceeds out of physis or Being, for example, in parenting, advising, or farming.140 Arendt, however, developed a more dynamic notion of the causality of human agency.Unlike Heidegger and Aristotle, Arendtian action does not just abet what is already proceeding out of Being; it is itself natal.It is the beginning of something new.In order to conceptualize this dynamic conception of causality, we might preliminarily refer to Kant’s discussions of causality in the Critique of Pure Reason.Kant understood mechanism (cause and effect) to be only one category of a threefold categorical account that included both “substantia et accidens” and what he calls “community” or “interaction.”141 This last category of interaction is much closer to the kind of causality Arendt understands human action to have, although her version is much more dynamic and potent.Kant refers to it as the notion of “a dynamic community,” that is, the fact that within a given community of phenomena they all are reciprocally interacting and determining each other and this interaction has to be understood dynamically and not successively [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]