When Arendt says that “truth has a despotic character,” she explains that she means that as a single person investigates questions in, say, physics or math (even aspects of history, though that’s more complicated), the correct answers are not in any way affected by the fact that there are other minds with other perspectives. It’s simply between me and the non-negotiable world. By contrast, in the domain of the moral and political, there is no subject matter at all if not for multiple minds and perspectives. The right answer is not only hard to know without help from others—that’s also true about lots of math, physics, and history (she emphasizes the need for witnesses, for example). More importantly, in normative matters the right answer is itself some accommodation of multiple perspectives, such as competing aims and convictions.
Continuing the End Times series, Richard Marshall interviews David Estlund.