Introduction to Philosophy, S04 PHI 100 @ Cortland College, FA 11


Notes: Lying in Politics


Arendt's Lying in Politics

View of human life includes: Labor, Work, Action

Two Distinct Realms: Social, Political

Three Kinds of Human Behavior:

Labor and Work belong to the Social Realm which is defined by:

* Interactions between people

* Interpersonal - life among people

Action belongs to Political Realm which is defined by:

* Appeal to certain people - influence on people

* Distribution of power - ability to have ideas carried out


Goal - Reproduction of Human Life

   * At a societal level - Sex, Innate drive/Instinct

     * At an individual level - Eating

Production - To create something

Reproduction - To recreate that thing

- Example: Eating is recreation due to the transfer of energy. We reproduce ourselves each day by eating and sleeping.

- Example: Labor as in woman giving birth is the cycle of life

- Example: Labor as in "work" is growing food to feed the body. "Fruit of our labor" We put energy into hunting/gathering (going to the grocery store) and after we eat that food, we get the energy back.

* To a certain extent, we think in terms of cause and effect - we chain ourselves to the end result. Labor is chained to reproduction in that we labor to survive.

*Any activity we do towards reproduction is not free - it is tied to nature. We do not grow gardens anymore as food source, we go to the grocery store for food. Grocery shopping is our labor because we've changed our conditions to recreate life.

* The way we have changed human condition is how we do work. Conditioned by objects in the world and activities we take part in.

* Labor is always targeted at some end, not the object itself. It is a big cycle from labor to reproduction.


Goal - Creating human stability

* Nothing permanent but self-sustaining

 * Create stability by altering our way of life by means of artifacts

- Example: We create material objects which stands as evidence we need to change our material position, to change our way of life, and to change the different activities we take part in. We make buildings with classrooms in them in order to educate people and to be suitable for people to learn and teach in.

* Work is the creation of an artifact.

* Importance of these objects:

- Function

- Makes labor easier

- When labor becomes easier, it means we do not need to use all of our time doing labor. We are not preoccupied with the reproduction of life.

  * Example: Plows are used to reduce the amount of time we spend cutting a field to make crops and the function of the plow changes the way we live and spend our time.

* Example: Buildings give us greater control over our environment. It stands between us and nature.

* Once we have stability around objects, we have time to interact with each other in different ways.

* Work is turned towards reproducing your life:

- Consumer goods, architecture

* Objects condition our way of life - work creates a stable realm of man-made objects. Once the object is finished, you stop and it is the end of the cycle.


Goal - Beginning something new

* Quote by Arendt "One of our greatest possibilities is to imagine the world other than it actually is."

* To begin something new does not need to have a set end.

* There are different areas in which we can have greater amounts of control

- Example: Someone can put labor into nature (i.e. crops) and someone else could take it away (i.e. back when people used to use crops as forms of payment)

* If we act in any particular way, it can take on a different meaning because of who views it and interprets it.

- Realm of freedom

* We do not have control over nature, we are only free so far as we have separated ourselves from nature.

Division of Facts:

     Physical World - Labor

     Social World - Work

     Mental World - Action

* In order for something to have meaning, it must move beyond the individual and into the physical world.

* Something you think of does not have to be a fact - you can see how the world is and think of how it should be, but that still does not change how it is.

* The acts that have the most power of change are the ones that destroy something in the physical world and replace it with something else.

* You can act compelled by thought, but to get that thought to where you want it to go, you need more than one person.

* The social world is easier to change than the physical world

* Action has no meaning until other people see or hear it and then the meaning is out of your control and in control of those people.

* Action seems to aim at some good but the activity has value and the value dissipates once the activity is done. You may have a set consequence in mind and unintended consequences come of it.


Labor - Interacting with nature, deriving what we can from it to be able to sustain ourselves

Work - We separate ourselves from nature by creating objects and giving them meaning based on how we use them

Action - We have a thought with an intended meaning, we act on it but the meaning can change based on how people perceive the action


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