For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

The Human Condition

by Arendt, Hannah (2013)


A work of striking originality bursting with unexpected insights, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. 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. This new edition, published to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of its original publication, contains an improved and expanded index and a new introduction by noted Arendt scholar Margaret Canovan which incisively analyzes the book's argument and examines its present relevance. A classic in political and social theory, The Human Condition is a work that has proved both timeless and perpetually timely. Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the leading social theorists in the United States. Her Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy and Love and Saint Augustine are also published by the University of Chicago Press.

Key Passage

Aristotle distinguished three ways of life (b'xo'i) which men might choose in freedom, that is, in full independence of the necessities of life and the relationships they originated. This prerequisite of  freedom  ruled  out  all  ways  of  life  chiefly  devoted  to  keeping  one's self alive—not only labor, which was the way of life of the slave,  who  was  coerced  by  the  necessity  to  stay  alive  and  by  the  rule of his master, but also the working life of the free craftsman and the acquisitive life of the merchant. In short, it excluded every- body  who  involuntarily  or  voluntarily,  for  his  whole  life  or  temporarily,  had  lost  the  free  disposition  of  his  movements  and  activities. (p.12)


Arendt, Technology, Modernity, Animal Laborans, Homo Faber


The Human Condition [1958], Arendt Citations

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