For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"On Animal Laborans and Homo Politicus in Hannah Arendt: A Note"

by Levin, Martin (1979)


Every political philosopher is subject to misunderstanding, but perhaps none more so than those who insist on distinctions to which their age is not accustomed or which it is determined to ignore. Thus it is not surprising to discover that Hannah Arendt, whose philosophy is based on just such distinctions which we find either alien or meaningless, should be particularly vulnerable to misunderstanding and misinterpretation.

Key Passage

The whole ground of Arendt’s objection to the modern age is that animal laborans has become the dominant model of human life. However, this is not because the working class has taken over the public realm but because we have all become animal laborans in our attitude to our work and in our relationship to the public world.  (p.523)


Arendt, Animal Laborans, Homo Politicus


On Arendt

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