The Human Condition Second Edition
by Hannah Arendt, introduction by Margaret Canovan
University of Chicago Press, 1998
Cloth: 978-0-226-02599-5 | Paper: 978-0-226-02598-8 | Electronic: 978-0-226-92457-1
DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226924571.001.0001


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A work of striking originality bursting with unexpected insights, The Human Condition is in many respects more relevant now than when it first appeared in 1958. In her study of the state of modern humanity, Hannah Arendt considers humankind from the perspective of the actions of which it is capable. The problems Arendt identified then—diminishing human agency and political freedom, the paradox that as human powers increase through technological and humanistic inquiry, we are less equipped to control the consequences of our actions—continue to confront us today. This new edition, published to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of its original publication, contains an improved and expanded index and a new introduction by noted Arendt scholar Margaret Canovan which incisively analyzes the book's argument and examines its present relevance. A classic in political and social theory, The Human Condition is a work that has proved both timeless and perpetually timely.

Hannah Arendt (1906-1975) was one of the leading social theorists in the United States. Her Lectures on Kant's Political Philosophy and Love and Saint Augustine are also published by the University of Chicago Press.


"It is hard to name another thinker of the twentieth century more sought after as a guide to the dilemmas of the twenty-first."
— Adam Kirsch, New Yorker


Introduction by Margaret Canovan


1. Vita Activa and the Human Condition

2. The Term Vita Activa

3. Eternity versus Immortality

4. Man: A Social or a Political Animal

5. The Polis and the Household

6. The Rise of the Social

7. The Public Realm: The Common

8. The Private Realm: Property

9. The Social and the Private

10. The Location of Human Activities

11. "The Labour of Our Body and the Work of Our Hands"

12. The Thing-Character of the World

13. Labor and Life

14. Labor and Fertility

15. The Privacy of Property and Wealth

16. The Instruments of Work and the Divison of Labor

17. A Consumers' Society

18. The Durability of the World

19. Reification

20. Instrumentality and Animal Laborans

21. Instrumentality and Homo Faber

22. The Exchange Market

23. The Permanence of the World and the Work of Art

24. The Disclosure of the Agent in Speech and Action

25. The Web of Relationships and the Enacted Stories

26. The Frailty of Human Affairs

27. The Greek Solution

28. Power and the Space of Appearance

29. Homo Faber and the Space of Appearance

30. The Labor Movement

31. The Traditional Substitution of Making for Acting

32. The Process Character of Action

33. Irreversibility and the Power to Forgive

34. Unpredictability and the Power of Promise

35. World Alienation

36. The Discovery of the Archimedean Point

37. Universal versus Natural Science

38. The Rise of the Cartesian Doubt

39. Introspection and the Loss of Common Sense

40. Thought and the Modern World View

41. The Reversal of Contemplation and Action

42. The Reversal within the Vita Activa and the Victory of Homo Faber

43. The Defeat of Homo Faber and the Principle of Happiness

44. Life as the Highest Good

45. The Victory of the Animal Laborans