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Hannah Arendt's Human Condition

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by Stefan Dolgert on 14 October 2014

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Transcript of Hannah Arendt's Human Condition

We are in a radically new situation, one that Rawls does not bother to imagine

The atomic bomb, the genomic revolution, the digital revolution, and the conquest of space change everything

The citizen of today is trapped in two paradoxes:

The Modern WORLD: Introducing Hannah arendt
We have amassed the power to fundamentally transform the human condition, but we are also disabled from thinking about how to use this power.
1. First example: the Web
First Paradox:
Modern citizens are trained to identify as laborers, but labor is now obsolete

1. Automation
2. Growth of the Service Sector
Second Paradox:
1. Vita Contemplativa vs. Vita Activa
2. Eternity vs. Immortality

SO: ordinary life slips by
Why have we come to this?
2. Second example: gene therapy
1. Return to "the human condition" - threefold

2. Labor: biological life
3. Work: the artificial habitat we create...permanence
4. Action: the uniquely human field...plurality and natality
HOW DO WE FIND OUR WAY OUT?
WHAT WOULD JOHN RAWLS SAY?

A. Arendt's ideas are "civic humanism" - a comprehensive moral doctrine
SS Rawls
1. Rawls misunderstands the nature of freedom: his freedom is social, not political freedom
2. Ancient Greeks distinguished between polis and oikos (public vs. private)...freedom vs. necessity
3. Freedom was not about the realm of necessity (economics), but about the realm of action that transcends mere biological life
THe social versus the political
B. Task of political philosophy is much more limited
POLI 2P91 Fall '12
Brock University
Stefan Dolgert
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