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Vita activa. La condizione umana

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  3,118 ratings  ·  118 reviews
Un saggio sul rapporto tra benessere economico e libertà, tra agire politico e mera difesa degli interessi: spregiudicata analisi della società di massa e accorata denuncia della condizione dell'uomo.
Paperback, Tascabili Saggi, 320 pages
Published 2000 by Bompiani (first published 1958)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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blake
This is a difficult read, although initially more frightening than it ends up actually being. Arendt's intellect is intimidating to say the least, and the manner in which she launches into a discussion of the human condition in the modern age is altogether unlike anything I've ever seen before -- "unique" is certainly an understatement. She completely renovates the discussion of political and social theory, but does it in a way that makes it seem logical and even natural. The scope of her knowle ...more
Tom Choi
Dec 02, 2008 Tom Choi rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all human beings
If I could recommend one work of philosophy, I'd turn to this magnificent book. And of the many interesting and influential philosophical texts from the 20th Century, this one is the most important of them all as it critically and sympathetically addresses our age, our problems and our fears.

In short, our ideas and our leaders (governments) have failed us. But against the spirit of pessimism of her German counterparts (notably Heidegger and Adorno, each representing a distinctly opposed sense o
...more
John Doe
The Human Condition outlines what a utopian democracy would look like. Arendt doesn't think that social inequality means we can never encounter each other as equals. We need to create public spaces where political equality can flourish. For example in a Town Hall meeting, we each have a voice, a perspective and perhaps a suggestion. Lawyers and doctors argue with the unemployed, the high school drop outs, the prostitutes and the drugies. We all have something to contribute to public reason.

When
...more
David Withun
Arendt's book is a masterpiece of modern philosophy. Like any masterpiece, especially of philosophy, and even more especially of modern philosophy, this mistakes it very difficult to summarize. In this book, she draws on the history of Western thought from the ancient Jews, Greeks, and Romans through to Marx and Nietzsche to diagnose, as the title puts it, “the human condition.” Nearly every page is filled with insight into what it means to be human. She moves swiftly through the ages, introduci ...more
Hadrian
A very unique approach to philosophy, to put it mildly.

Divides human life into three spheres: labor, action, and work. Describes the evolution of these three concepts, using historical examples from philosophy. Not an easy book, but a very stimulating one.
Rob
This is an original and insightful book of philosophy that lives up to its lofty title. What Arendt deals with here is what politics should be about -- not manufactured wedge issues but the very way we live our lives.

The real strength of The Human Condition is how Arendt manages to escape the limits of conventional ideology. She doesn't easily fit into any political classification, nor does she propose a concrete program of reform. Instead she looks at the changes in human activity and how it ha
...more
Michael
In The Human Condition (1958), Hannah Arendt discusses the public/private distinction with hope toward a more active political life, what she calls viva active (7). She argues that the dividing line between private and public has become blurred because we have come to understand political realms in terms of the family (28). She sees a "gulf" between private and public in ancient thought where people had to cross, and it touch courage to cross this gulf because one left behind concerns of only hi ...more
MG
I read this when I was sophomore at Berkeley and it changed my life. As a political philosopher, her fundamental belief about the human condition is that we must think about what we are doing as citizen of the world, as public beings who make the world and defend it from thoughtlessness and blind ignorance. Sigh. If I could be three of the most brilliant women of the 20th century, I would be Simone Weil, Gillian Rose, and this woman--Hannah Arendt.
Cosmo
This is an odd work.

Arendt mischaracterizes a great many thinkers over the course of the book; her "labor," "work," "action," trichotomy seems only intermittently useful; it is unclear whether or not her vision of political action has ever, or could ever, exist. And yet.

One of my fellows in our reading group suggested a nice way to get past the egregious misreadings of various thinkers (Locke and Smith have an especially hard time). He suggested that, instead of offering actual interpretive wor
...more
Andrew
I'm afraid that I have difficulty with so much of the great intellectual powerhouses of the immediate postwar era, which is terrible, because I know they were a reasonable, humane bunch who tirelessly threw themselves towards lofty goals. But it seems to me that most of these cogitations on universal human aspiration are a bit suspect.

Hannah Arendt, you are clearly a stunningly intelligent person. Your phenomenological approach to the work-labor distinction is admirable for its rigor, and a grea
...more
Patricia Carlton
This reading was deeply intellectually satisfying while also challenging me to keep up. Arendt brought the ancient Greek philosophies and western tradition of philosophic thought to illuminate three areas of the modern human condition: labor; work; and action. Although we seem to be more of a society of animal laborans and jobholders,than man as toolmaker or policy maker, the advent of digital media and social networking may be building a new public space for speech and thought; (the realm of hu ...more
haetmonger
still don't get how *SPOILER ALERT* thinking counts as action, ending the book with that quote from cato ("never is he more active than when he does nothing, never is he less alone than when he is by himself") seems like a weird note to end the book on. the first bit about thinking being active is understandable enough (activity =/= action for arendt), but the bit about being unalone by being by oneself isn't making sense to me in the context of arendt's philosophy
Bart Everson
I read this, or tried to, when I was 20 years old. It was completely over my head. It was assigned in a 400-level religious studies class at Indiana University which was also over my head. The class met in a pub and I was slightly intoxicated most of the time. That may not have helped my comprehension, but the prof had known Hannah Arendt personally, and he told us, "She would have approved. She preferred hard liquor and could drink more than most mortals."
Andrew
This book is very deep. By this I mean not that it is a difficult read or that it is philosophical (it is both), but that it is as complicated and interesting as a deep-sea shipwreck. One can revisit this text over and over again and uncover new treasures. Agamben has called this work "practically without continuation" in any scholarly tradition. This is not because it is ignored, but because it is a very original and multi-faceted argument. Besides its main thrust of the sullying of politics th ...more
Nare
In this text, Arendt is critical of the institutions that have defined the democratic society, relating them to the problems, fears, and failures that we have experienced. In order to lead a more political life, or “vita active” as she called it, there must be the crossing over of the private, public, and social sectors. The constant infiltration of the private into the public has given rise to the need of the social, which is often interpreted as the political. Arendt draws on ancient Greek tho ...more
Tristan
Arendt is sometimes frustrating because she has read everything. In this incredible work, she weaves together history, politics, and philosophy from Ancient Greece to contemporary America to construct a theory, not on human nature, but rather what humans are capable of doing. The book develops five terms: labor, work, action, vita contemplativa and vita activa. Arendt then theorizes the relationship amongst all these ideas in Ancient Athens, Rome, the Middle Ages, the Enlightenment, the Industri ...more
Rhys
It is remarkable how relevant this book is some 56 years after it was written. Labour, Work, and Action and its relation to the 'public' and 'society'.

And probably one of the best critiques of Marx's 'withering away of the State' concept as being a confusion between labour (immersed in necessity and directed towards consumption) and work (creation of use-value), in which the leisure time released by technology would be used for our collective betterment.

"A hundred years after Marx we know the f
...more
Kathi
Well, that wasn't a typical read! I had to read this book for class in university and I'm kind of torn if I really like it or if it's just important to pass the class.

I guess I really liked it because I thought about it long after I had to read it. It made me think that we should keep our focus on things which effect the society and our lives and norms.

So, it's not an easy read, but it's worth it.
Troydooley
I have this book to read in the event that I feel like I actually know something. I think I have spent more time on commentaries than the actual book, however I find Arendt nothing but hopeful and incredible. Whenever other philosophers and thinkers bring you down, Arendt comes along and sees 'birth' in all things. Take that Heidegger!
Erik C
Arendt describes 3 different modes of existence characterized by the types of work, labor or action one engages in.

That doesn't sound exciting, but this book is pretty amazing and will certainly mess you all up inside.
Barry
I first gave this 4 stars but on reflection it deserves 5, despite my reservations. It is brilliant, original, and in parts almost prophetic. A book well worth having mental arguments with.
Bradley
Wow... what a book. Meticulous voyage through Western Society from the Ancient Greeks through the Modern Era. Considered a classic by most hip-left-leaning-philosophy departments.
Aya Nassar
Might be the only book deserving the label of a political theory text!
Saira
not an easy read, but opened my mind to human processes immensely.
Nell
Feb 23, 2012 Nell is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
I'm getting ready.
Devon
really 3.5 stars... probably will rate it higher once I catch up on all my Greek classics and therefore can understand the context of the book slightly better...

Arendt looks at a variety of terms and concepts that make up 'the human condition' following their development and evolution from antiquity up into 'modern' times...though the book is from the 50s so it's somewhat dated.

My knowledge of Plato, Aristotle, Archimedes, Socrates, the Epicureans, the Stoics, etc is pretty limited so I really s
...more
Ian Ryan
Oh my god you guys, I actually finished it. This hulking, 300+ page philosophical behemoth that has been floating around in my room for the last three months. I've been managing to chip away at it here and there, and it's only now, after starting it back in late September, that I've managed to finish it.

In all seriousness though, as much as people have heard me about this complain about this, it's not a BAD book-- Arendt just isn't the best of writers, and it can be somewhat difficult to follow
...more
Paul Bard
The Banality of Hannah Arendt.


Arendt achieves here a useful Marxist philosophy of work, but does not achieve a viable understanding of the human condition, because she excludes absolute distinctions between God and man and between animal and angel, in favor of merely relative distinctions between social/political, public/private, and pagan/Christian.

The resulting busywork is a straw man against inhumanity, proposing a humanism that exists only in action, and completely neglecting common sense di
...more
Mac
At some point I found myself at a Lyle Lovett concert – odd enough – but it became odder when I ended up winning front-row tickets from a radio station’s swag booth that I shared with a group of people. This meant that Lyle was about fifteen feet away, watching us awkwardly tag each other in and out of the primo location and run back to our cheap seats on the lawn. At any rate, I happened to be in the special seat when he introduced a song of his, saying “This next one is a song about the human ...more
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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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