On Our Shelves
The past year has seen a resurgence of interest in the political thinker Hannah Arendt, “the theorist of beginnings,” whose work probes the logics underlying unexpected transformations—from totalitarianism to revolution.
A work of striking originality, 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 sixtieth anniversary of its original publication, contains Margaret Canovan’s 1998 introduction and a new foreword by Danielle Allen.
A classic in political and social theory, The Human Condition is a work that has proved both timeless and perpetually timely.
About the Author
Danielle Allen is the James Bryant Conant University Professor at Harvard University, where she is also the principal investigator for the Democratic Knowledge Project. She was a recipient of a MacArthur fellowship in 2001 and was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2009. In 2020, she won the Kluge Prize for Achievement in the Study of Humanity, administered by the Library of Congress, that recognizes work in disciplines not covered by the Nobel Prizes. She is the author or coeditor of many books, including Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality.
“The combination of tremendous intellectual power with great common sense makes Arendt’s insights into history and politics seem both amazing and obvious.”
— Mary McCarthy
“Arendt’s most important philosophical work.”
— Richard Wolin
“A great work of the mind and the imagination. . . . Arendt has done even more to prise open our oyster minds than she did in The Origins of Totalitarianism.”
— Philip Toynbee