Tomorrow is the anniversary of the death of Hannah Arendt. Arendt is considered one of the most important political philosophers of the 20th century. She may be most famous for her work on totalitarianism, but she also wrote about something nearer to all of our lives: the difference between labor, work, and action. In The Human Condition, Arendt argues that "labor" is necessary for the maintenance of life but creates nothing of permanence. Because labor is required by necessity, labor is contrary to freedom. "Work," on the other hand, is characterized by the creation of things (and knowledge and institutions) that are not required to live and have a degree of permanence. Work is still partially subject to necessity, but engaging in work allows us to experience some freedom. As Steven Maloney writes in the article linked to below, the distinction between labor and work is the difference between plowing a field and doing archaeology. "Both might be slow, labor intensive tasks performed while one wilts in the hot sun but one task sustains our bodies while the other one refines our imagination of the past." "Action," according to Arendt, involves taking initiative and doing something new in the public sphere. It is by our actions that we are most free, and our actions reveal us to be who we are as individuals. For a short look at this part of Arendt's philosophy, see, for example, blog.oup.com/2017/10/hannah-arendt-philosophy
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