Villa, Dana R.
VILLA, Dana R.
PERSONAL: Male. Education: Princeton University, Ph.D., 1987.
(Editor, with Austin Sarat) Liberal Modernism andDemocratic Individuality: George Kateb and the Practices of Politics, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1996.
Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1996.
Politics, Philosophy, Terror: Essays on the Thought ofHannah Arendt, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 1999.
(With Joke J. Hermsen) The Judge and the Spectator:Hannah Arendt's Political Philosophy, Peeters (Leuven, Belgium), 1999.
Socratic Citizenship, Princeton University Press (Princeton, NJ), 2001.
Contributor to journals and periodicals, including Political Theory, Constellations, American Political Science Review, and Revue Internationale de Philosophie.
SIDELIGHTS: Dana R. Villa, a career academic, has published books and articles focusing on the political theorists Hannah Arendt, George Kateb and Socrates. Villa works as an associate professor at the University of California—Santa Barbara's political science department. He teaches courses on political theory and the people who helped to create it.
His first published work was 1996's Liberal Modernism and Democratic Individuality: George Kateb and the Practices of Politics, which he edited with Austin Sarat. The book consists of a group of essays, in which critics, colleagues and friends of liberal thinker George Kateb analyze the political theories Kateb spent his lifetime creating. Editors Villa and Sarat include an introduction to Kateb's theories as well as an index. A reviewer for Perspectives on Political Science called the essays "uniformly interesting and often provocative."
Also in 1996, Villa wrote Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political. In this book, Villa focuses on three issues: Arendt's political action theory, the areas in which Arendt and Martin Heidegger, former lovers, converge, and the areas in which the two political theorists disagree. He argues that, generally, Arendt's philosophies grew mainly out of Heidegger's ideas. Villa includes views from Nietzsche and Aristotle, as well as other theorists who contributed to Arendt's political theories. "Finally a book about Arendt and Heidegger that one can read with intellectual benefit," commented Fred Dallmayr in American Political Science Review.
In his 1999 Politics, Philosophy, Terror: Essays on the Thought of Hannah Arendt, Villa examines Arendt's familiarity with Leo Strauss, Jürgen Habermas, Socrates, Nietzsche, and Heidegger. Villa writes that Arendt's experience of alienated and lonely people inspired her writing. This collection of nine essays addresses Arendt's ideas of evil and contend that her arguments don't excuse Holocaust participants as players in a play they couldn't control, but that they should be responsible for their sins. Villa argues that active citizenry best protects against evil, better than a focus on philosophy or morality. Journal of Politics reviewer Elizabeth Brake called the book "lucid, well-argued, and interesting,"
During the same year, Villa coauthored The Judge and the Spectator: Hannah Arendt's Political Philosophy with Joke J. Hermsen. This time, Arendt's political ideas and thinking are highlighted, focusing on some of the moral and philosophical questions from which she extracted her political theories.
In 2000, Villa edited The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt, one in a series. The book is a group of fourteen articles organized into six topics: totalitarianism, political evil, political action and freedom, Arendt and the ancient thinkers, revolution, and philosophy. With a focus on the controversy of Arendt's political theories, Villa includes Arendt's critiques of democratic institutions and the relationship she saw between politics and philosophy, as well as a chronology of Arendt's life and a large bibliography. Some of the writings in this work are important additions to political theory, noted S. D. Jacobitti in a Choice review, and the book is, overall, "an outstanding group of new essays," he noted.
Villa broadens his subject in his 2001 book, Socratic Citizenship. In this work, Villa agrees with scholars' opinions that public life lacks civic involvement, and argues that Socrates' ideas on politics are the base for the five political theorists in his book: Nietzsche, Max Weber, Arendt, Strauss, and J. S. Mill. Socratic politics, he says, are accessible to everyone. Villa contends that Socrates demonstrated how intellectuality and morality can work together, and that they, as a team, are important to politics. He reminds readers that Socrates stressed thinking and morals over political activism, patriotism and a strict adherence to law. Choice reviewer P. Coby noted that the book's chapters "bristle with insight," and commented that "Villa offers an exceptional book, well written and instructive at every point."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
American Political Science Review, December, 1996, Fred Dallmayr, review of Arendt and Heidegger: The Fate of the Political, pp. 901-903; December, 1997, David Weinstein, review of Liberal Modernism and Democratic Individuality, p. 953.
Choice, September, 2001, S. D. Jacobitti, review of The Cambridge Companion to Hannah Arendt, p. 204; March, 2002, P. Coby, review of Socratic Citizenship, p. 1321.
Ethics, April, 1997, Mary G. Dietz, review of Arendt and Heidegger, p. 552; January, 2002, Mark A. Garnett, review of Politics, Philosophy, Terror: Essays on the Thought of Hannah Arendt, p. 409.
Journal of Politics, May, 2001, Elizabeth Brake, review of Politics, Philosophy, Terror: Essays on the Thought of Hannah Arendt, pp. 661-664.
Perspectives on Political Science, summer, 1997, review of Liberal Modernism and Democratic Individuality: George Kateb and the Practices of Politics, p. 184.
Review of Metaphysics, June, 1998, Tom Rockmore, review of Arendt and Heidegger, p. 966.*