The Concept of Labor

The concept of labor is greatly interconnected related to the thoughts of Karl Marx. Marx opines that labor and work are greatly correlated to the unnaturalness of human existence and recurs in the lifecycle (Arendt 85-90). However, Arendt distinguishes between the concept of labor and work by arguing that work refers to the means in which degree of permanence is acquired and created while labor involves seeking to meet the needs that arise from necessity (Arendt 136-139). Therefore, there is a cycle that is correlated with labor as necessity calls for needs, while labor calls for meeting the needs through consumption of the labor requirements. The cycle is then expected to repeat automatically, as an individual cannot escape from labor in reality.

            “Dead letter”[AB1]  provides a space where the living spirit must survive. This means deadness from which the “dead letter” can survive and resurrect into life. However, the author writes that the dead shares the “dead letters” with living things too. This form of deadness can be shared into art that can display the gap between an individual’s heart and the head of the man [AB2] (Arendt 169).  However, Arendt brings out the irony that the evanescent of the living spirit involves action and speech but can only be preserved through “dead” matter since material is a product of human actions. Mental work involves conceptualization of the mental images of the things that are made to be while physical work involves actual labor through use of bodily parts. Arendt calls for the need to differentiate between labor value as the value is only noticed when it is recorded (82).

            Plato’s idea of eternity is that which focuses on timeless duration. The only that moves is time. He links objects such as mathematical objects to eternity as they will always be there despite the age (Arendt 143-158). On the other hand, reify means the continuity of human activities that can be evidenced in work related activities. In this context, reification leads to work having a foreseeable end as man becomes the controller of nature, himself and his actions (Arendt 95-98).

            The “world” is really dependent on humanity creating and recreating it, as Arendt notes on the natural processes of life that man recreates artificially through scientific experiments. [AB3] These experiments end up transforming the natural environment to an extent that natural processes are taken over by technology. A good example is human beings inhabiting other planets, an activity that was previously not a human activity.

            Lastly, Hannah Arendt’s idea of the world is one that visualizes it as a temporary appearance unlike one that involves eternal forms. This then means that life was to be lived practically of the common praxis activities (Arendt 185).

Works Cited

Arendt, Hannah. The Human Condition.  Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1958. Print.


 [AB1]Could you explain more what you understand this concept to mean?

 [AB2]I think this sounds really interesting, but it really needs to be clarified and explained in more detail. What sort of deadness is this? I would maybe expand on this. The rest of your challenge piece does a good job summarizing various parts of Arendt, but I’m not sure what your perspective on it is, where your idea or interpretation enters the picture, so I would focus on thinking about that. You seem to understand her ideas; what do you think of them?

 [AB3]This is an interesting way of applying Arendt – I’m not sure that that’s what she specifically had in mind, but it could be an interesting case study.

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