For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"The robot condition: Karel Čapek's R.U.R. and Hannah Arendt on labor, technology, and innovation"

by Dinan, Matthew (2017)


This article reads Karel Čapek's R.U.R. through the lens of Hannah Arendt's critique of technology in The Human Condition. Arendt and Čapek share a suspicion that modernity's attempts to overcome labor through the use of technology undermines the human condition of natality. Indeed, the revolt of Čapek's Robots dramatizes Arendt's warnings of the dangers of a “society of laborers without labor” and “world alienation.” Both thinkers suggest that the dilemmas posed by modern technology cannot be resolved through “practical” means but require loving attentiveness to the fragile conditions in which genuine natality can emerge.


Čapek, Arendt, Technology, Natality, Robot, German Idealism


On Arendt, Robots

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