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The Human Condition: Second Edition Paperback – Dec 1 1998


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 370 pages
  • Publisher: University Of Chicago Press; Second Edition edition (Dec 1 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226025985
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226025988
  • Product Dimensions: 22.8 x 15.3 x 2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 522 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #15,130 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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This is an introspective and stimulating read, well worth it! Most of the prominant early phenomenological philosophy is written by men and Arendt's is a leading pioneer female writer in the field. Her writing is clear and wise.
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Format: Paperback
This is a brilliant work by a foremost intellectual of our times, Hannah Arendt. Though labelled under "political theory", this book is actually a existential (Heideggerian) analysis of the "Human Condition", emphasizing especially its social and political elements, as befits a work written in the second half of the 20th century.
I will not attempt to summarize it; suffice to say it is one of the finest works of 20th century philosophy. Highly recommended to anyone interested in political philosophy of a different sort.
Oran Magal, graduate student of philosophy, Tel Aviv University
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By Emberek on Oct. 14 2003
Format: Paperback
It's hard to give a summary of this book, which touches on so many issues. In her introduction, Margaret Canovan notes that many academic critics, at the time of the book's first publication in 1958, found Arendt's argument "beneath refutation." The book is indeed something of a long essay in form and is not immediately "falsifiable" or arguable in the sense that most narrow academic texts are. Canovan also notes that many readers were thrown by Arendt's ongoing gesture (my words) of explaining contemporary social life in the vocubulary of Ancient Greek thought. In intellectual-history terms, this move of Arendt's is no surprise. She was a student of Heidegger's; many Continental thinkers fell under his spell. (Potential readers of "The Human Condition" might want to contrast it with "The Embers and the Stars" by Erazim Kohak, who also constructs a philosophy out of the etymologies of Greek words, but not of social life, but of the environment and nature.)
In short, Arendt's book is interesting reading for anyone involved in the world of work. Her categories of "labor," "work," and "action" provide an interesting way of thinking about society. A back-cover blurb from poet W. H. Auden talks about "The Human Condition" as "one of those books that seem to have been written especially for me." I would go further and recommend Arendt to any artist or budding artist or anyone who has ever seen themselves as being of an artistic temperament. Arendt provides a philosophical view of the artist in society, as opposed to a lyrical view, which is what one might find in, say, Joyce's "Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man." Arendt's vision is more realistic. A wonderful book!
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Format: Paperback
Most of the most contentious contemporary issues, like abortion, euthanasia and healthcare, welfare, tobacco, and suchlike, concern the problem of life. The argument can be made, and Arendt makes it, that the modern state, in its care for life, has moved from the power over death (capital punishment) to the power over life. It is Arendt's purpose to show that modern politics, in its absorption the public by the private, turns politics into economics (the household), where formerly the care of "life" was located. In a world in which there is neither the immortality of the state nor the individual, bare life becomes the highest value. (Strauss makes the argument that a politics that begins in the state of nature leads directly to "humanitarianism," to a politics devoted to eliminating suffering, and the argument is the same.) A politics devoted to life leaves no "space" (a decidedly unGreek word, used again and again by Arendt and every hip business exec today) for politics, for the play of concealment and disclosure, darkness and light, bright shining words and the privacy and darkness of pain, defecation, eating, love, etc. It is Heidegger put to good use, and Arendt reminds us that the elimination of the politics, or its suppression, is inseparable from a Seinsvergessenheit, but the real life-and-death issue is better grasped by Schmitt and Strauss, who do not fall into the trap of aestheticizing politics.
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