Wednesday, September 4, 2019
The Human Condition: Message Lost in the Capitalist Machine :: Hannah Arendt Human Condition Essays
The Human Condition: Message Lost in the Capitalist Machine In The Human Condition, by Hannah Arendt, the fundamental qualities of human behavior are described and analyzed. These qualities are first described by discussing the different entities present in the lives of Athenian Greeks. This partition of human life into separate units is supposed to be applied to modern American society as well, however, the structure of today's social order differs from that of ancient Greek. These disparities cause the analysis and ideas projected on the human condition to be contrasting as well. Arendt refers to the three elements of the human condition as vita activa: labor, work, and action, which correspond to the reason which humans have been granted life. According to Arendt, labor is the biological functions which define life itself, work is the artificial function of human existence and so defined as "worldliness," and action is activity that goes on between man and matter and leads to the permanence of a particular human's existence. These divisions are important in viewing the human life as a whole, seeing how Arendt divides it into two realms: the private and public. The private realm is where work is executed and labor is present, and a hierarchical family is the basis of activity with the male at the top. Since work and labor are when humans are at their most natural state and in touch with their biological functions, this is the simplest sphere of life. The public realm, which only exists for the dominant figure in the family, is most closely related with action and is where man gains a sense of freedom. This freedom comes from the fact that when humans meet in public, they discuss ideas and exchange views. Through this exchange, thoughts are developed free from the constraints of private life and primordial necessities. In this respect, freedom in the ancient Greek world was defined as the ability to contemplate thoughts and discuss socially. This is where the morals and ideals of society are formed and a common good is derived which creates a social standard. These social standards and their methods of development were valid during the days of ancient Greece, but are not contemporaneous with modern American society. The society of modern America, which coincides closely with the society of the rest of Western Civilization, cannot be analyzed on the same levels that Arendt evaluates ancient Greek culture in respect to her proposed human conditions.