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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.

Topics: Politics, Ethics, Social Science, Civil and Political Rights, Anthropology, Government, Capitalism, Wealth, Humanism, Slavery, Family, Democracy, Philosophical, Contemplative, Roman Empire, and Essays

Published: University of Chicago Press an imprint of UChicagoPress on Dec 4, 2013
ISBN: 9780226924571
List price: $18.00
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Arendt's book is a masterpiece of modern philosophy. Like any masterpiece, especially of philosophy, and even more especially of modern philosophy, this mistakes it very difficult to summarize. In this book, she draws on the history of Western thought from the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans through to Marx and Nietzsche to diagnose, as the title puts it, “the human condition.” Nearly every page is filled with insight into what it means to be human. She moves swiftly through the ages, introducing us to the ideas that have shaped our modern way of life and our way of viewing ourselves. And she finally ends with where we are at and why a reevaluation of our own humanity is now more pressing than ever (and now even more pressing than when Arendt wrote the book): our worst fears have been realized. Man has been simultaneously reduced to the state of an animal – a biological machine of no lasting worth – and elevated to the position of a god – capable of destroying worlds. What are we to do now? I recommend that everyone read this book – and ponder every word deeply.read more
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Arendt deals with human beings in the collective, and thus calls herself a political philosopher. Her reflections on the nature of work, action, and thought are profound precisely because they are rooted in experience (phenomenology). Arguably, the most important political thinker for understanding the future of democracy...plurality and persuasion, rather than force and mass. This gets to the root of her critique of Marx.read more
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A timeless and fascinatingly philosophical look at humanity seen through its defining activities. The author divides these into labor, work, and action: after Aristotle's division of knowledge into episteme, techne, and phronesis. Labor is the activity of necessity: what we must do to sustain ourselves in the world. Work is the activity of craft and artifact: what we can do to build an enduring and beneficial environment. Action is the activity of ethical praxis: what we should do to improve ourselves and our progeny.read more
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Arendt's book is a masterpiece of modern philosophy. Like any masterpiece, especially of philosophy, and even more especially of modern philosophy, this mistakes it very difficult to summarize. In this book, she draws on the history of Western thought from the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans through to Marx and Nietzsche to diagnose, as the title puts it, “the human condition.” Nearly every page is filled with insight into what it means to be human. She moves swiftly through the ages, introducing us to the ideas that have shaped our modern way of life and our way of viewing ourselves. And she finally ends with where we are at and why a reevaluation of our own humanity is now more pressing than ever (and now even more pressing than when Arendt wrote the book): our worst fears have been realized. Man has been simultaneously reduced to the state of an animal – a biological machine of no lasting worth – and elevated to the position of a god – capable of destroying worlds. What are we to do now? I recommend that everyone read this book – and ponder every word deeply.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Arendt deals with human beings in the collective, and thus calls herself a political philosopher. Her reflections on the nature of work, action, and thought are profound precisely because they are rooted in experience (phenomenology). Arguably, the most important political thinker for understanding the future of democracy...plurality and persuasion, rather than force and mass. This gets to the root of her critique of Marx.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
A timeless and fascinatingly philosophical look at humanity seen through its defining activities. The author divides these into labor, work, and action: after Aristotle's division of knowledge into episteme, techne, and phronesis. Labor is the activity of necessity: what we must do to sustain ourselves in the world. Work is the activity of craft and artifact: what we can do to build an enduring and beneficial environment. Action is the activity of ethical praxis: what we should do to improve ourselves and our progeny.
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"Being seen and being heard by others derive their significance from the fact that everybody sees and hears from a different position. This is the meaning of public life, compared to which even the riches and most satisfying family life can offer only the prolongation or multiplication of one's own position with its attending aspects and perspectives."
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I read this when I was sophomore at Berkeley and it changed my life. As a political philosopher, her fundamental belief about the human condition is that we must think about what we are doing as citizen of the world, as public beings who make the world and defend it from thoughtlessness and blind ignorance. Sigh. If I could be three of the most brilliant women of the 20th century, I would be Simone Weil, Gillian Rose, and this woman--Hannah Arendt.
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Arendt's classic on excellence for humans.
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