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

The  moment  laboring  was  liberated  from  the  restrictions  imposed  by  its  banishment  into  the  private  realm—and  this  emancipation of labor was not a consequence of the emancipation of the working  class,  but  preceded  it—it  was  as  though  the  growth  element  inherent  in  all  organic  life  had  completely  overcome  and  overgrown the processes of decay by which organic life is checked and  balanced  in  nature's  household.  The  social  realm,  where  the  life process has established its own public domain, has let loose an unnatural growth, so to speak, of the natural; and it is against this  growth,  not  merely  against  society  but  against  a  constantly  growing  social  realm,  that  the  private  and  intimate,  on  the  one  hand, and the political (in the narrower sense of the word), on the other, have proved incapable of defending themselves. (p.47)


Arendt, Technology, Modernity, Animal Laborans, Homo Faber


The Human Condition [1958], Arendt Citations

Links to Reference



How to contribute.