Distinction is a core theme in Arendt’s exploration of political issues. Contrasting what constitutes the private and public realm is a primary example of her approach. Private and public life corresponds to politics and the household respectively. In her writing, Arendt bases her arguments public versus private on Ancient Greece, particularly, the polis (city-state). It is possible that Arendt uses the polis in her argument because there existed a clear line between these two spheres. Inherently, citizens in their households were intrinsically despots. According to this statement, the private realm, which is ruled primarily by necessities, lacks freedom. Arendt notes that mastering necessity requires the use of force and violence, for instance ruling over slaves.
Moreover, in the private realm, the head of the household holds authority over others and dictates their actions. It is imperative to note that necessities are a core characteristic of households and as such, the private realm will never be a domain of freedom. The public realm starkly differs from the private sphere according to Arendt’s view. These citizens, who rule over their households form the polis when they gather to discuss politics and the general affairs of the city-state. In this capacity, they are equals, in that they do not rule over one another and are not subjects of necessities. As such, the political sphere is one of freedom and equality.
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