Hannah Arendt

Topics: Meaning of life, Personal life, Philosophy of life Pages: 2 (880 words) Published: October 10, 2006
In the Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt, the fundamental qualities of human behavior are described and analyzed. These qualities are first expressed by discussing the different aspects of life for Athenian Greeks. Arendt describes the division between public and private life and how it should be applied in the modern American society as well. Technology and capitalism are blurring the lines of Arendt's civic ideal between the public and private realms of society. Arendt refers to the three elements of the human condition as vita activa. The vita activa, is defined by, "human life in so far as it is actively engaged in doing something, is always rooted in a world of men and of manmade things which it never leaves or altogether transcends" (pg. 22). The three fundamental human activities that make up the vita activa are as follows: "Labor", the biological functions which define life itself, "work" is the artificial function of human existence and is also defined by "worldliness" and "action" which is the activity that goes on between man and matter and leads to the permanence of our existence (pg. 7). The three divisions are important in viewing the human life as a whole and in dividing life into public and private realms. Private life consists of work and labor and in the Athenian society the family hierarchy with the male of the household at the top. Private life is simple, just so long as it is devoid of action, which is entirely dependent upon the presence of others (pg. 23). The public realm, which only exists for the citizen in Athens, is almost interchangeable with action. It is where man is free and has the opportunity to expand his views with the exchange of thoughts and views with other citizens. It's moving above the private, primordial necessities, finding meaning with words and discussion and not through force and violence (pg. 26). These ideals worked well in ancient Greece, but become increasingly difficult to sort out in modern American...
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