- Mass Market Paperback: 385 pages
- Publisher: Doubleday; First Edition Thus edition (1959)
- ASIN: B000GRFTTO
- Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 4.2 x 0.9 inches
- Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,673,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Human Condition Mass Market Paperback – 1959
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Labor is, according to Arendt, those human activities whose main aim is to allow men to survive, for example eating, drinking and sleeping. These activities belong to the private sphere, and while the human being strives painstakingly to perform them, he is not free.
On the other hand, Action is the moment when the human being develops the capacity that distinguishes him, the ability of being free. This is the public sphere, where men, after having provided for themselves and their families what was needed to "continue in existence", can at last be free.
Arendt shows us the historical evolution of these concepts, and how that evolution is connected to the evolution of the concept of work. At the end of this book, you will have analyzed with her the human condition, from the point of view of the activities that the human being is capable of. What is more, you will be able to have a valid view regarding the past, and an interesting perspective on what is happening now, and on what the future may bring to us. Yes, it is true that this book was released a long time ago, but I believe that it is still as important now as it was then.
Arendt (1906-1975) was a respected professor and thinker, who wrote books that greatly influenced quite a few of her contemporaries. Even though her more significant book was "Origins of Totalitarianism" (1951), "The human condition" is also essential in order to understand her ideas.Read more ›
She wrote in the Preface to this 1958 book, “What I propose, therefore, is very simple: it is nothing more than to think what we are doing. ‘What we are doing’ is indeed the central theme of this book. It deals only with the most elementary articulations of the human condition, with those activities that traditionally, as well as according to current opinion, are within the range of every human being.Read more ›
Auden was a close friend of Arendt, so close, in fact, that he proposed to her shortly after he husband died, which is not only surprisingly like Claudius but even stranger because Auden was a homosexualist. Could his reaction to the book be a reflection of his feelings for Hannah?
If so, you wonder if Berlin and Arendt had a personal encounter that influenced his judgment.
In any case, this book is not incoherent, but neither is as revelatory as Auden claims. It's worth reading, however, as are most of Arendt's other books, in spite of the influence of the unspeakable Heidegger on her philosophical views.