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

My contention is simply that the enormous weight of contemplation in the traditional hierarchy has blurred the distinctions and articulations within the vita activa itself and that, appearances notwithstanding,  this  condition  has  not  been  changed  essentially  by the modern break with the tradition and the eventual reversal of its  hierarchical  order  in  Marx  and  Nietzsche.  It  lies  in  the  very  nature of the famous "turning upside down" of philosophic systems or currently accepted values, that is, in the nature of the operation itself, that the conceptual framework is left more or less intact. (p.17)


Arendt, Technology, Modernity, Animal Laborans, Homo Faber


The Human Condition [1958], Arendt Citations

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