PHIL 683: Contemporary Philosophical Figures

PHIL 683-001: Arendt
(Fall 2020)

04:30 PM to 07:10 PM W


Section Information for Fall 2020

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.

For students in the Traditional and Contemporary Philosophy focus, this course can be used to fulfill the contemporary philosophy requirement; or it can be used as an elective.

For students in the Ethics and Public Affairs concentration, this course can be used as an elective.



Course Information from the University Catalog

Credits: 3

Examines major recent philosophical authors, texts, and topics, and their influence on philosophical thought. Notes: May be repeated for credit when topic is different. May be repeated within the term for a maximum 6 credits.
Registration Restrictions:

Enrollment limited to students with a class of Advanced to Candidacy, Graduate, Non-Degree or Senior Plus.

Enrollment is limited to Graduate, Non-Degree or Undergraduate level students.

Students in a Non-Degree Undergraduate degree may not enroll.

Schedule Type: Seminar

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