The Human Condition: Message Lost in the Capitalist Machine


Length: 991 words (2.8 double-spaced pages)
Rating: Excellent
Open Document
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Text Preview

More ↓

Continue reading...

Open Document



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.

How to Cite this Page

MLA Citation:
"The Human Condition: Message Lost in the Capitalist Machine." 123HelpMe.com. 22 Jul 2017
    <http://www.123HelpMe.com/view.asp?id=10915>.
Title Length Color Rating  
The Capitalist System Essays - While capitalism is prevailing in the modern society, the issue on whether an amoral profit driven capitalist system is good for the society or not has been raised. Some believe that an amoral capitalist system is the best way to organize individuals together to serve the society. However, others argue that a amoral capitalist system will harm the society instead of benefit it. In this essay, I will be presenting the view of two neoclassical economists, Ricky Griffin and Adam Smith, who support the idea on the amoral capitalism is good for the society....   [tags: Economic System, Amoral Capitalist System] 1974 words
(5.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Karl Marx - Capitalist Alienation Essay - Karl Marx - Capitalist Alienation THE TERM "alienation" in normal usage refers to a feeling of separateness, of being alone and apart from others. For Marx, alienation was not a feeling or a mental condition, but an economic and social condition of class society--in particular, capitalist society. Alienation, in Marxist terms, refers to the separation of the mass of wage workers from the products of their own labor. Marx first expressed the idea, somewhat poetically, in his 1844 Manuscripts: "The object that labor produces, its product, stands opposed to it as something alien, as a power independent of the producer." Most of us own neither the tools and machinery we work with nor the prod...   [tags: Alienation Capitalist Society Marxism] 649 words
(1.9 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
The Time Machine and Mrs. Warren's Profession as Socialist Manifesto Essay - The Time Machine and Mrs. Warren's Profession as Socialist Manifesto   The industrial revolution was the period of greatest economic and technological growth in modern society. Starting in Europe and spreading to the world, multiple countries experienced a new definition of efficiency and productivity. Although the growth was certainly profound, many people questioned the methods with which it was achieved and the society created from its ideals. In particular, two British Authors, H.G. Wells in The Time Machine and George Bernard Shaw in Mrs....   [tags: Machine Warren] 1945 words
(5.6 pages)
Powerful Essays [preview]
Essay about The Human Condition: Freedom Expropriated by Corporations - The Human Condition: Freedom Expropriated by Corporations Arendt's ideas in The Human Condition have laid the foundation on which American society is grounded, and are particularly useful for looking at America today. American citizens have been displaced from the Arendtian model of the modern age. The American government has lost its freedom by having been expropriated from the realm of freedom in the vita activa. Capitalism and large corporations now wield the most power and economic influence in America today....   [tags: Hannah Arendt Human Condition Essays] 888 words
(2.5 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay about The Human Condition: Contemplation Key to Understanding - The Human Condition: Contemplation Key to Understanding Ask the average American what the problems facing his country are, and you will get a battery of standard responses. Some people will say health care, others violent crime, and still others will say drugs. There will probably be some who complain of high taxes or express a need for gun control. Certainly, there is evidence to support the fact that these are all issues of great importance. However, these are only superficial, and there is a deeper problem that will not have a simple legislative solution....   [tags: Hannah Arendt Human Condition Essays] 572 words
(1.6 pages)
Good Essays [preview]
America’s Mergence of Personal and Public Realms in Arendt’s The Human Condition - America’s Mergence of Personal and Public Realms in Arendt’s The Human Condition America is a superpower, irrefutably the most dominant nation in the world. Underlining this supremacy, however, is the fact that America's society is facing several problems. Among these problems is what Hannah Arendt calls the emergence of society through the mergence of both the personal and public realms. This major problem has spawned numerous other problems, so has been chosen as the underlying cause for the tribulations of modern American society....   [tags: Human Condition]
:: 1 Works Cited
644 words
(1.8 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
A Capitalist Economy vs Socialist Economy Essay - A Capitalist Economy vs Socialist Economy There are a variety of economic systems today, which can influence how prosperous we will be as individuals or as a group. Socialism is an economic system where the government will be greatly involved in the economy. In a socialist economy the government can control many industries, provide public institutions such as health care and education, and equalize incomes of the population. A socialist economy is one of low unemployment and stability, where the government sets production quotas and price regulation upon their perception of the needs of the economy....   [tags: Capitalist Economic Systems] 851 words
(2.4 pages)
Better Essays [preview]
Essay on Machine Learning - 1. Introduction Humans can expand their knowledge to adapt the changing environment. To do that they must “learn”. Learning can be simply defined as the acquisition of knowledge or skills through study, experience, or being taught. Although learning is an easy task for most of the people, to acquire new knowledge or skills from data is too hard and complicated for machines. Moreover, the intelligence level of a machine is directly relevant to its learning capability. The study of machine learning tries to deal with this complicated task....   [tags: Machine Learning Essays]
:: 5 Works Cited
2503 words
(7.2 pages)
Research Papers [preview]
Lost Essays - The “Others” Revealed The ABC show Lost has never failed to surprise me. The twists and cliffs just keep coming. This past week season three has started. Just as in past seasons another twist to the show has emerged with another journey to explore and possible answers to be revealed for the mysteries of island. One thing is certain, after two seasons I’m still lost as ever. The show starts out in house with a woman is putting on a CD, and she seems sad. She is getting things ready for a book club meeting when she burns herself while preparing some muffins....   [tags: Broadcast Television Analysis Lost Review] 1450 words
(4.1 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]
Capitalists? Essay - Capitalists. Capitalism is the American way to create massive amounts of wealth through exploitation of helpless or naive people. When capitalism controls one’s future it becomes a noose that will control how one grows up and lives in the future. An example of this type of controlling capitalism is the new Marriott Hospitality Public Charter High School in Washington D.C. that trains mostly black*, inner city, high school students to become desk clerks, sales directors, and caterers (Hedgpeth). Washington Post Staff Writer Dana Hedgpeth in her article “If You Can’t Hire ‘Em, Train ‘Em” describes this process and the way the Marriott Company is going about creating their ‘future’....   [tags: Free Essays Online] 1960 words
(5.6 pages)
Strong Essays [preview]

Related Searches




In today's world, the public life and private life are too closely intertwined to define their purposes the way Arendt has. If the private life is related to work, and the public life is related to thought and contemplation, than modern America's social structure would imply a role reversal. This is due to the fact that the artifacts produced by humans, which in turn affect the social structures and institutions, are further developed and completely different. It is partially because of these disparities between man-made products that priorities have experienced a polar change, which is more directly related to the differences in Arendt's society and that of modern America.

 

The fact that modern technology succeeds that of Athens is a major factor in the creation of different cultures.

 

"The world of which the vita activa spends itself consists of things produced by human activities; but the things that owe their existence exclusively to men nevertheless constantly condition their human makers." (Page 11)

 

Since the products of modern American civilization have been brought into everyday patterns, the way life is lived has changed proportionally. The introduction of machinery such as computers and factory machines have allowed for decreased thought on the part of the average person, therefore, according to Arendt, a decrease in freedom. According to American standards and the Constitution, however, these people are technically and rightfully free, which provides that her definition of freedom is not valid in today's world. The increase in man-made products and rise of an economy-based society has led to the divergence of priorities. In ancient Greece, the most important aspect of the vita activa was thought, where as today, in Western society, it is work. Because of the value placed on work, it is now emphasized in the public realm and has replaced original thought and contemplation. Introspection and deliberation, if any even occurs within an individual's mind, is considered private and done so on a familial level, or, as an exception, in a university or educational institution. The decisions of the collective good of society are left to those of the governing body, whose purposes are so tainted with re-election that contemplation no longer occurs. With Arendt's ideas of public and private realm untrue in modern civilization, her views on the human condition cannot apply as they did for the ancient Greeks.

 

As society develops, it creates a normal good that it expects out of its members as well as the structure of the institution. In Athens, social contemplation, the exercising of freedom, was in small city-states, but modern America is a much larger and more diverse place than a simple city-state. As society grows larger, the values, common good, and goals become more and more vague, making it more difficult for the introspections of every member in society to exercise their abilities for thought and decide the values of their society. This could qualify as a reason, which, in today's culture, the decisions of society are determined by a select few (government), and the average member turns work into a higher priority, since their thoughts don't show any results anyway. Arendt's philosophical argument holds true to human conditions ideally. The priorities and actions of ancient Greece were ideal, and so the argument holds true in this respect. The structures of modern American society have strayed from the ideal and moved toward the mere functional, causing Arendt's case to be lost in the furrows of capitalism and technology.


Return to 123HelpMe.com