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10 thoughts on “The Human Condition

  1. says:

    The Human Condition, Hannah ArendtThe Human Condition, first published in 1958, Hannah Arendt s account of how human activities should be and have been understood throughout Western history Arendt is interested in the vita activa active life as contrasted with the vita contemplativa contemplative life and concerned that the debate over the relative status of the two has blinded us to important insights about the vita activa and the way in which it has changed since ancient times She distinguishes three sorts of activity labor, work, and action and discusses how they have been affected by changes in Western history 2012 1389 448 9789643119126 20 1958 1958

  2. says:

    This is a difficult read, although initially frightening than it ends up actually being Arendt s intellect is intimidating to say the least, and the manner in which she launches into a discussion of the human condition in the modern age is altogether unlike anything I ve ever seen before unique is certainly an understatement She completely renovates the discussion of political and social theory, but does it in a way that makes it seem logical and even natural The scope of her knowledge is breathtaking, as she deftly handles everything from Ancient Greek property rights to modern day astrophysics, displaying an impressive working knowledge of Greek, Latin, German, French, and Italian in the process.The book s greatest value is in its content In addition to Arendt s revolutionary proposal of the vita activa contrasted with the vita contemplativa as broken up into the three separate areas of labor, work, and action, she also develops background arguments in each of these three categories that could have become books unto themselves Her discussion of slavery in ancient Greece and Rome was one of the highlights It was utterly fascinating to learn that unlike modern slaves that exist for production s sake, ancient slaves existed chiefly to free their masters from the necessities of everyday labor day to day maintenance such as cleaning and cooking This distinction does not seem like much on first glance, but it completely shifted the manner in which these two separate cultures thought about labor and human liberty The opinion that labor and work were despised in antiquity because only slaves were engaged in them is a prejudice of modern historians The ancients reasoned the other way around and felt it necessary to possess slaves because of the slavish nature of all occupations that served the needs for the maintenance of life It was precisely on these grounds that the institution of slavery was defended and justified p.83 In order to have freedom to pursue the truly worthy human deeds politics, oration, philosophy , they had to enslave these servants Arendt s documentation of this shift is perhaps the most memorable part of the book I also enjoyed Arendt s writing style Though she tended to lose me with some of her longer sentences, the meaning is always very clear when you take the time to parse down each phrase and aside She is precise, if not concise She is seemingly without pretension neither arrogant in the way that she boldly takes down to size intellectual giants like Marx, Adam Smith, Bentham, Kant, or any of the Stoics or Epicureans, nor overly humble when she kneads the entire mass of political philosophy into a new and appropriate form Also, she seems to intuit that her ideas are complex and not immediately penetrable some of the concepts in the first chapters that leave you scratching your head she knowingly addresses in detail later on, without calling too much attention to the repetition and further elaboration It s as if she knew you wouldn t have any idea what she was talking about the first time and wanted to inconspicuously help you, avoiding any embarrassment on your part.My biggest problem with the book is its lack of stated purpose or overall thematic vision I know she mentioned early on that the idea was to get people to think , and I can respect that But I was left confused with what she was actually proposing I understood that she seemed to value action higher than either work or labor, but she was fairly clear in her condemnation of some of the worse outcomes of unplanned action as well unpredictability, irreversibility So what, then, is a reasonable model to follow, according to Arendt Or is it just about developing appropriate categories for these ideas The introduction which I recommend reading AFTER the text itself addresses this issue but doesn t fully resolve it either All in all, the genius of the discussion itself than makes up for this lack, and that indeed was probably her intention all along.Cross posted at Not Bad Movie and Book Reviews blakerosser1

  3. says:

    If I could recommend one work of philosophy, I d turn to this magnificent book And of the many interesting and influential philosophical texts from the 20th Century, this one is the most important of them all as it critically and sympathetically addresses our age, our problems and our fears In short, our ideas and our leaders governments have failed us But against the spirit of pessimism of her German counterparts notably Heidegger and Adorno, each representing a distinctly opposed sense of pessimism , Arendt says, Do not despair for there is hope after all And there is hope because, for Arendt, it is that we have not quite understood the important way in which philosophical thought is linked to human activity of living, of making and building things and of trying to live together Whereas the phenomenological turn placed human consciousness as the source of all philosophical activity, Arendt is realistic and pragmatic philosophy begins with how we live Any philosophy that forgets its foundations in the human condition is simply misguided In a way, Arendt is Nietzsche with a great heart.With The Human Condition, Arendt surpasses her own immediate influences Hegel, Nietzsche, Marx, Heidegger as well as her notable peers Sartre, Adorno, Wittgenstein, Russell And who is her only real rival In my estimation Immanuel Kant.

  4. says:

    I took months reading this book, and I loved it What I keep mostly about reading it is changes The possibility of change How the world has changed and what brings about those ch ch changes The way everything is connected, philosophy, science, spirituality, and the way one change of view brings many as consequence Ver stimulating read, totally worth the effort, every page leaves you with a lot to think about It applies to every day life and what we see happening in the world I underlined so much, but I will write here some of my favorites Power is always, as we would say, a power potential and not unchangeable, measurable, and reliable entity like force or strength While strength is the natural quality of an individual seen in isolation, power springs up between men when they act together, and vanishes the moment they disperse Another one on power Power is actualized only where word and deed have not parted company, where words are not empty and deeds not brutal, where words are not used to veil intentions but to disclose realities and deeds are not used to violate and destroy but to establish relations and create new realities This one made me think so much of Mexico, my country, because it is exactly what she says, in opposite word and deed have parted company, with politicians saying one thing, with tragedies happening every day and not being explained, and words are empty, and deeds are brutal, with so many people disappearing, or dying every single day Words are only used by politicians to veil intentions, and deeds are used to violate and destroy so many lives But I will end with a positive tone The fact that man is capable of action means that the unexpected can be expected from him that he is able to perform what is infinitely improbable And this again is possible only because each man is unique, so that with each birth, something uniquely new comes into the world With respect to this somebody who is unique it can be truly said that nobody was there before So yes, there is always the possibility of change, and that is something that gives me hope that things can always get better, because we all have a possibility of change Also, I love how she separates power from strength, and how power is of a collective of people having the same view That is the real power And that also gives me hope, that in unity A country can grow stronger, no matter what its defects or problems are, there is always the possibility that it will be better than its problems.

  5. says:

    This is an odd work Arendt mischaracterizes a great many thinkers over the course of the book her labor, work, action, trichotomy seems only intermittently useful it is unclear whether or not her vision of political action has ever, or could ever, exist And yet.One of my fellows in our reading group suggested a nice way to get past the egregious misreadings of various thinkers Locke and Smith have an especially hard time He suggested that, instead of offering actual interpretive work, Arendt positions the thinkers she references as one would characters in a play I think this is right.That understanding fits with reading the book as a kind of polemic but it s a polemic with at least the appearance of a serious scholarly apparatus So, what to do with it Arendt wants political action that may or may not be possible, that she attempts to illustrate by appealing to classical thought Obviously that is overly reductive, but it draws out the connections she shares with some of her fellow German emigres from the mid century most oddly, Leo Strauss Arendt is often associated with the left Strauss with the right Nonetheless, I couldn t escape the feeling while reading The Human Condition that something about that German experience e.g Heidegger had shaped them so thoroughly that they could not escape each other, and that their political associations are a product of personal priors and who their students were than anything particularly substantive in their thought It s something I ll have to consider Strauss prizes the vita contemplativa while The Human Condition is an exhortation of the vita activa Arendt writes elsewhere, however, of the necessity of the former see, for instance, Thinking and Moral Considerations They share similar Heidegerrian misgivings about society and technology Etc.Anyway, much of the book strikes me as muddled, but it is occasionally wonderful Well worth reading.

  6. says:

    I m afraid that I have difficulty with so much of the great intellectual powerhouses of the immediate postwar era, which is terrible, because I know they were a reasonable, humane bunch who tirelessly threw themselves towards lofty goals But it seems to me that most of these cogitations on universal human aspiration are a bit suspect.Hannah Arendt, you are clearly a stunningly intelligent person Your phenomenological approach to the work labor distinction is admirable for its rigor, and a great many of your observations are just as cutting as they were fifty years ago But when you use the intellectual circles of classical Greece as an immortal standard, you re selling yourself a bit short I have a great respect for many classicist principles, but if you fail to recognize a degree of contingency, then the substratum of your approach is inherently flawed Sorry.

  7. says:

    I read this, or tried to, when I was 20 years old It was completely over my head It was assigned in a 400 level religious studies class at Indiana University which was also over my head The class met in a pub and I was slightly intoxicated most of the time That may not have helped my comprehension, but the prof had known Hannah Arendt personally, and he told us, She would have approved She preferred hard liquor and could drink than most mortals.

  8. says:

    This book is very deep By this I mean not that it is a difficult read or that it is philosophical it is both , but that it is as complicated and interesting as a deep sea shipwreck One can revisit this text over and over again and uncover new treasures Agamben has called this work practically without continuation in any scholarly tradition This is not because it is ignored, but because it is a very original and multi faceted argument Besides its main thrust of the sullying of politics the book hints at and opens many lines of question in passing Arendt puts forth a theory of the political action , a critique of liberal society, discussions of goodness, suicide, technology, the modern, etc etc The accusation of elitism that Arendt faces that the rise of lower classes into politics threatens politics is not without foundation However, recent theorists such as Foucault, Agamben, and Ranci re have continued to push us along this dangerous line of thought The rise of the population into politics, intertwined with the technicalization and instrumentalization of the world has led to a confused moment in which public and private have lost there distinction and great horrors have become possible.

  9. says:

    A book that is all over the place and is not an easy read I m not entirely sure what she was trying to attempt.

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The Human Condition summary pdf The Human Condition, summary chapter 2 The Human Condition, sparknotes The Human Condition, The Human Condition 95142ec A Work Of Striking Originality Bursting With Unexpected Insights, The Human Condition Is A In Many Respects Relevant Now Than When It First Appeared In In Her Study Of The State Of Modern Humanity, Hannah Arendt Considers Humankind From The Perspective Of The Actions Of Which It Is Capable The Problems Arendt Identified Then Diminishing Human Agency And Political Freedom The Paradox That As Human Powers Increase Through Technological And Humanistic Inquiry, We Are Less Equipped To Control The Consequences Of Our Actions Continue To Confront Us Today

  • Paperback
  • 349 pages
  • The Human Condition
  • Hannah Arendt
  • English
  • 18 September 2018
  • 9780226025988

About the Author: Hannah Arendt

Hannah Arendt 1906 1975 was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century Born into a German Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York She held a