PHIL 421: Seminar

PHIL 421-001: The Philosophy Of Hannah Arendt
(Spring 2018)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM M

Robinson B124

Section Information for Spring 2018

  • All Philosophy majors must take at least one section of PHIL421.

The Philosophy of Hannah Arendt:

Hannah Arendt is widely regarded as one of the foremost philosophical political thinkers active in the second half of the twentieth century, in the wake of the devastation of World War II.  This course will be a close reading of the text considered her major philosophical work, The Human Condition. 

Among the topics to be addressed are: Arendt’s analysis of the vita activa, (the active life), which includes the activities of labor, work and action; the distinction between the vita activa (the active life) and the vita contemplativa (the contemplative life); the primacy of the vita activa during the archaic period of the West in Greece and its displacement by the vita contemplativa during the classical Greek period; Arendt’s strong distinction between the private and the public; the formation of “the social” when matters previously belonging to the private are taken up into the public; the historic displacement of action as the highest activity of the vita activa (and the prerogative of being human) by work (homo faber) and eventually, labor (animal laborans), turning most activities into matters of intake and output; Arendt’s critique of modern economics, in particular, Marxist economics; the historic transition to the identification of life as the highest value; the status and role of art in reference to human action; the significance of “natality” in reference to human action. 

The aim, Arendt specifies, is “to think what it is that we are doing,” and we will make this our aim as well.  Reference will be made to Arendt’s other works.


Satisfies the writing intensive requirement in the major.

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Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Explores topics in current philosophical research in a seminar format. Topics vary. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the degree for a maximum 18 credits.
Mason Core: Capstone
Specialized Designation: Writing Intensive in the Major
Recommended Prerequisite: Nine credits in philosophy.
Schedule Type: Seminar
This course is graded on the Undergraduate Regular scale.

The University Catalog is the authoritative source for information on courses. The Schedule of Classes is the authoritative source for information on classes scheduled for this semester. See the Schedule for the most up-to-date information and see Patriot web to register for classes.

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