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The Life of the Mind: The Groundbreaking Investigation on How We Think
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The Life of the Mind: The Groundbreaking Investigation on How We Think

4.22  ·  Rating Details ·  713 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
The author’s final work, presented in a one-volume edition, is a rich, challenging analysis of man’s mental activity, considered in terms of thinking, willing, and judging.
Paperback, 521 pages
Published March 16th 1981 by Harvest Books (first published 1971)
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Jun 27, 2013 Ingeborg rated it really liked it
Shelves: philosophy
A very interesting account of what do we do when we think. Where are we when we think? Why do we think at all? At times a complicated text, full of erudite references to Aristotle, Socrates, Plato, Nietzsche and other philosophers, but never boring. Arendt recognizes 3 basic mental activities – thinking, willing and judging. The first section, Thinking, is the best and the most stimulating read. It is a pity Arendt didn't have time to finish this work, she died, left it unfinished, and it was ed ...more
Jul 31, 2011 Carmen rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
One of the most impressive philosophy books. She takes simple observations about thinking and the thought process from everyday life(some might call it phenomenology) and draws radical conclusions as well as reaffirming the importance of a philosophic approach to the everyday. I like to reread it once every few years.
Jun 18, 2010 Nathanial added it
Shelves: theory
"Everything that can see wants to be seen, everything that can hear cries out to be heard, everything that can touch presents itself to be touched."

-from book one, "Thinking"
Dec 14, 2012 sheena rated it it was amazing
Oh, with or without Hannah I'm never going to graduate.
Mar 05, 2015 Lysergius rated it really liked it
Originally conceived in three parts, Thinking, Willing and Judging, but not completed at the time of her death, this is perhaps Hannah Arendt's most difficult work. Cetainly the initial section on Thinking took a long time to read and a lot of reflection to follow all of her arguments. Willing the second section seemed easier, since the activities of the will have been much discussed by Nietzsche and Heidegger for example. The last section Judgement is the shortest and is based upon lecture note ...more
Sep 14, 2015 Ali rated it really liked it
This is Arnedt at her most lucid, eloquent, thought-provoking, and interestingly, most erudite state of mind. It took a long time for me to get through the first section (Thinking), but once I did, the following two sections on Willing and Judging seemed ten times easier; partly because you get used to her prose, her jargons, her way of thinking, analyzing and approaching things, and partly because the content of these two sections are not as dense, and unfortunately, due to her untimely death t ...more
Jul 14, 2007 Mary rated it really liked it
Shelves: finito
Fascinating. But so difficult to read at times that I had to read it aloud to myself to keep from getting confused. I am not proud of that.
Lindsay Moore
Nov 08, 2013 Lindsay Moore rated it it was amazing
This book is very important and worth careful study.
Arendt takes up where Kant's Critique of Pure Reason stops, showing how "reason" goes beyond conceptual knowledge. Knowing that Arendt was one of Heidegger's most important students, you can see places where she is pointing toward Heidegger's non-representational 'thought' as the path beyond knowledge and into the unknowable metaphysical realities.
She is at her best in the first section of this two volume work, where she deals with thinking p
Aug 19, 2016 Pradnya rated it it was amazing
Great book about thinking as viewed by philosphers over the ages. Somewhat difficult to grasp the phrases in Latin and German that occur often. I especially like her statement that The present is slippery, the now changes to then, the past, and ahead is the future approaching but not yet there. We live in between the past and the future. The present is a life-long fight against the dead weight of the past while hope drives one forward. Yet fear drives man backward toward the quiet of the past an ...more
Barış Özgür
Dec 30, 2015 Barış Özgür rated it really liked it
aslında thinking, willing ve judging olarak üç cilt halinde planlanmış fakat willing'i bitirdikten bir hafta sonra vefat etmiş. heidegger'in, her ne kadar otuzların sonunda bu planı terk etmiş olsa da, -kısmen editörünün erken baskıdaki ısrarı yüzünden- yazmadığı üçüncü bölümünün metafiziğin yerle bir edilmesine ayrılmış olması manidar. arendt de willing'i heidegger'in planını terk edişi üzerinden ele alarak bitiriyor. onun hükmü ne olacaktı acaba? ismet özel'in kendine yakıştırdığı gibi, muamma ...more
Mar 01, 2015 Alison rated it really liked it
Thick read but very insightful...already another step closer to becoming Rust Cohle ;)
Dec 15, 2014 Ghieanna added it
Shelves: philosophy
what makes us think ?
Adam Hall
Dec 06, 2014 Adam Hall rated it liked it
Easy to read? Not so much, but if you enjoy summaries of major philosophies you may find it fulfilling. I wish Arendt had contributed more of her personal thoughts on the matter instead of just giving a history of philosophy.

Mar 31, 2014 Samuel added it
Begriff- Reason. The German thought-experiments, fearsome in their density. The Raskol- sovereign trickster, white shaman, standing outside the community, representing it in the animal and planetary consuls, delivering their edicts.
Jun 27, 2012 Wilrite4fd rated it really liked it
This book will change the way you think. Arendt focuses on the space of being, the appearance of self that others see. Its a lengthy book, but you'll want to take a while to read it so you can digest what the author is saying.
Ron Mitchell
Mar 18, 2014 Ron Mitchell rated it it was amazing
Just brilliant, and superbly edited by Mary McCarthy after the author's death.
Thomas Hill
May 02, 2011 Thomas Hill rated it it was amazing
An excellent survey of the history of Western thought as told from one of the most brilliant minds of the 20th century.
Mark Ambrose
Oct 29, 2009 Mark Ambrose rated it it was amazing
Well written and thought out.
Jul 13, 2008 Mateo is currently reading it
Each page takes me days
Fairly intense
Mga Van der sluis
Apr 25, 2013 Mga Van der sluis rated it it was amazing
Mind blowing !
Aug 18, 2016 Shelley rated it really liked it
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Hannah Arendt (1906–1975) was one of the most influential political philosophers of the twentieth century. Born into a German-Jewish family, she was forced to leave Germany in 1933 and lived in Paris for the next eight years, working for a number of Jewish refugee organisations. In 1941 she immigrated to the United States and soon became part of a lively intellectual circle in New York. She held a ...more
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“If the ability to tell right from wrong should have anything to do with the ability to think, then we must be able to ‘demand’ its exercise in every sane person no matter how erudite or ignorant.” 2 likes
“From the Greek word for spectators, theatai, the later philosophical term “theory” was derived, and the word “theoretical” until a few hundred years ago meant “contemplating,” looking upon something from the outside, from a position implying a view that is hidden from those who take part in the spectacle and actualize it. The inference to be drawn from this early distinction between doing and understanding is obvious: as a spectator you may understand the “truth” of what the spectacle is about; but the price you have to pay is withdrawal from participating in it.” 1 likes
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