This text with its oral gesture (despite the literary designation) was written in one flow even if it shows at least one layer of reworking. The numbering of the pages (not the 1, 2, 3, of Arendt’s usual practice, but the uncommon 01, 02, 03, etc.) clearly sets it apart from the other texts written for either the book or the seminars. It is notable that her overview makes mention only of a “first lecture”; the rest of the exposition is not delegated to specific meetings. This supports the assumption that even as the lecture series was beginning, Arendt had not yet mapped her way through all six sessions in detail and was leaving herself room to restructure the presentation as it progressed.
Of this lecture only fragments survive; see the First New York Fragment.
|1||9||15||20a, 23||29||20f, 20h, 36|
|2||20, 10||16||20||30||26, 37|
|3||3, 11||17||20b, 24||31||28, 27, ¿|
|4||3a, 4, 12||18||20c, 25||32||18b, 28, 33, 39|
|5||13||19||20d, 26||33||29, 34, 40|
|6||13a||20||36, 37, 27||34||29a, 35, 41|
|7||13b||21||38, 28||35||29b, 36, 42|
|8||3c, 6, 14 ad14||22||38a, 29||36||19, 36, 37, 37, 43 sic! ad30|
|9||15||23||38b, 30||37||3¿, 38, 44|
|10||4, 7, 16||24||39, 31||38||3¿, 39, 45|
|11||5, 8, 17||25||20e, 27, 32||39||33, 46|
|12||6||26||20f, 28, 33||40||34, 47|
|13||6, 9, 18||27||20g, 29, 34||41||35, 45, 48|
|14||7, 18, 19||28||20f, 20h, 32, 35|
We assume that “II” and “Tradition and past” had originally been written as a continuous text for the “First New York Fragment.” When Arendt prepared her presentations for the Gauss seminars she used the first part of the text, probably for the second meeting, without implementing any major changes. For her next presentation, though, she restructured the following pages substantially, and, we suppose, at the last minute since all the additions are handwritten. First, she removed six pages of the text but kept them for the book version (see First New York Fragment pages 10-15). In a next step, she wrote a new beginning for the lecture (page 18), addressed to an audience in a seminar room (“Tradition and the past are not the same, as I tried to show”). She then transcribed the lower part of the old page 35 on a piece of paper and attached it to page 26. Because she did not cut the page in two pieces, page 35 remained intact, which again signals that she did not intend to destroy irrevocably the original structure of the chapter. At the same time, she relocated the five pages following page 35 to the middle part of her lecture — following page 26 — and by so doing changed the emphasis of her argument.
While the First New York Fragment discusses notions of the law in Greek antiquity quite extensively (10 pages) before it moves on to Roman and modern notions, the lecture jumps directly from Greek antiquity to Kant and Montesquieu. The distinction Arendt wants to establish is between those who rule and those who are ruled. This distinction marks a fundamental shift in Greek political experience, and comes to determine, as she says at the end of her presentation, “the whole realm of public political life and the common world” in modern times. By inverting parts of the chapter, the lecture concentrates much more on diagnosing contemporary political debates and their shortcomings.