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


Notes: Lying in Politics

Lying in Politics



-Arendt’s view of human life: labor, work and action (the 3 kinds of human behavior)

-there are 2 distinct spheres/realms of activity: Social & Political



Labor→social realm

Work→social realm

Action→political realm

Social: interpersonal, our life among people…

Political: a way of breaking down the population, distribution of power, an act toward some kind of an end, persuade others…


LABOR (social realm)

Goal—Reproduction of Human Life (at both the individual and species/collective levels)


Reproduction—of self and/or species

Eating—every day you ‘reproduce’ your life by eating/sleeping

Labor refers to the basic activities that we have to do to maintain life. These may become more complex but labor activities are always aimed at survival. Ex: we used to hunt/grow food…now we go to the grocery store & get stuff off shelves… this is still our labor.

Labor is concerned with interacting with nature and getting what we can out of it.

Reproducing human life in nature:

-Growing food→All of the laboring/energy you have put in to it is later absorbed.

So the cycle starts over…

Labor is part of nature (cyclical): Reproduction is a basic, innate drive, instinct


WORK (social realm)

Goal—create stability. (Implies that there is no stability/sense of permanence in actions of labor or in nature)

Examples—art, architecture, consumer goods

This is where we can change the human condition.

-We are conditioned by objects in the world/our actions in the world

-Work aims to create an artifact

Artifact: evidence, physical/material object

An artifact…exists over time, has some sense of stability, and is something we can relate to

-Work changes the conditions around us & the behaviors that we are able to perform

-Work makes labor easier—if it makes labor easier, we don’t have to do labor all the time…this opens up time for other things.

Ex. Work creates a plow (the artifact)→makes faming (labor) easier→changes the

way we can live.

-The objects/artifacts take on meaning


By creating a stable realm, what does work open up time for?...


ACTION (political realm)

Goal—beginning something new

Examples—lunch counter sit-ins, legislation, consciousness raising

-Do it for the sake of the activity, doesn’t necessarily have a set end

-not concerned with objects. Action takes place between people…often in groups because the more people working toward something, the more power it holds.

-We gain the potential for it because we have separated ourselves from nature.

-the meaning of our action(s) can change because we can all interpret it differently

-Other people can have a huge impact on the meaning of your actions.

-Actions have no set meaning/end

-with action, the activity itself has value unlike in work/labor since their value is only in the results (object/reproduction)

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