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The Human Condition by Hannah Arendt
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May 11, 12


Arendt addresses the "vita activa," which she sees as replacing the "vita complentiva" at the advent of the "modern age" at around the 17th century following developments in science, philosophy and--to a lesser extent--economics. In essence, humans place more focus and value on what we do than what we think. She divides the vita activa into three categories: the "animal laborans," which performs the labor we must do to keep ourselves alive; the homo faber, which works to produce the objects which constitute the human "world;" and--maybe most importantly--the actions and deeds of the public, political sphere which directly link man with man. The modern age saw not only the trumping of vita activa, but the trumping of labor over actions and work. The result is our current mass culture society and its over focus on daily consumption. Arendt's narratives and categories are a little too clean, but she provides a useful way to think about "what we do."

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