Peter Gratton shares his lecture on the last chapter of Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition, in which she explains how the modern era has altered the thinking of humanity as earth-bound. The resulting world-alienation and earth-alienation is exemplified in the subjectivist philosophy of Descartes and the mathematical concept of the universe, with its place-less thought of the point from which all can be observed (the Archimedean Point). These ideas have far-reaching implications for how we think in the modern era and for perceiving the barriers to significant political change.
[I have been posting my recent lectures on Arendt’s political philosophy. A previous lecture on Part I and II of The Human Condition can be found here and here is another on the crucial chapter “Action.”]
“Vita Activa and the Modern Age”
16 March 2016
This last section of The Human Condition is the most wide ranging and often quixotic of the book. By this point, we have seen the triumph of animal laborans and the corollary rise of the social, which has upset the previous boundaries between labor, work, and action, which made politics in the West possible in the first place. The chapter is best framed between the twin phenomena of “world alienation” and “earth alienation.” Inasmuch as the world is the spacing of plurality among and between humans in the plural, world alienation is another word for the “homelessness” marked out in Origins of Totalitarianism, a homelessness…
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