Hannah Arendt's The Human Condition

2089 Words Jul 8th, 2018 9 Pages
The Human Condition
Hannah Arendt’s book, The Human Condition, examines the “vita activa” and it’s relation to three fundamental human activities: labor, work and action. Arendt holds that these three activities “correspond to one of the basic conditions under which life on earth has been given to man” and make up politics (7). Throughout the book Arendt ultimately makes the point that our main political job is to discover other people’s opinions about political life and to then go forward and examine these opinions together. Differing viewpoints and opinions are inevitable and through politics we examine these opinions and should be able to find agreements within the discrepancies. In Arendt’s opinion examining opinions together is doing
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Labor and work can be easily distinguished between by the products length of stay in the world. These things are unnatural, or artificial. Products, such as houses, desks and phones are examples of things constructed through work. The activity of work provides for a stable world and serves the purpose of creating durability. Unlike labor, works sole relation to providing viable living conditions results in the view of every thing and every person as a means to make the object. Through the activity of work, the end justifies the means. This results in people being treated as a means to an end instead of a unique person. In the world of work, one person is in charge and violence is acceptable. Arendt justifies the use of violence, particularly in relation to nature, by saying “the end justifies the violence done to nature to win the material, as the wood justifies killing the tree and the table justifies destroying the wood”. Because products of work are so durable and have a long lifespan, they provide continuity with the past. Although work does not directly connect to the human condition of life, it does provide some rewards. Work provides pride and a sense of accomplishment. According to Arendt, work can “provide self assurance and satisfaction, and can even become a source of self-confidence throughout life” (140). People are able to master nature and therefore master oneself. The highest reward of work however is the work of art. While it is
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