FAH/PHIL Guest Lecture – “Europe and the Return of the Political” by Prof. Stefan Auer, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


Prof. Stefan Auer, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong


18 Oct 2018


16:00 - 18:00





Europe’s many contemporary problems are centred around Germany – the reluctant hegemon whose leadership oscillates between acting in the name of the exception and insisting on an apolitical adherence to the rule of law. My proposed solution is somewhat German too: I advocate the revival of the political, which is a rather awkward translation of ‘das Politische’. This concept was theorized by the likes of Carl Schmitt, Max Weber and Hannah Arendt. As crisis becomes Europe’s new normal, these writers, who pondered earlier crises of democracy in Europe, become ever more relevant. Despite their radically different positions, they shared a fascination for ‘the political’ as that special realm in which we realize ourselves fully as humans. Arendt’s notion of vita activa restates for modern times the Aristotelian ideal of man as a fundamentally political animal. Understood in this way, technocratic rule is no less a danger to democracy than the rise of populism, the focus on which tends to dominate media coverage and a great deal of academic studies devoted to Europe’s many discontents.

I advance my arguments in three parts. The first delves into key aspects of German political culture and the way they have framed Germany’s relationship to Europe. The second part combines a brief discussion of the political with a suggestion of how it may be reinvigorated by ‘thinking without a banister’ (Arendt). In the third part, I sketch how such thinking could be applied to three of Europe’s most pressing challenges; the eurozone crisis, EU relations with Russia and Ukraine, and the refugee crisis.


All are welcome




Philosophy and Religious Studies Programme
Tel: (853) 8822 4768
Email: fah.philosophy@um.edu.mo