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Delve Online Fall 2020: Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition

October 6 - November 17, 2020
Tuesdays, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. (six sessions)
Guide: Mary Finn

What is the purpose of public life? Should we live as thinkers or doers? These are the questions that Hannah Arendt tackles in her 1958 work ​The Human Condition. Philosophers have long argued that the ideal state for the human condition is a life of contemplation and inward-focus. Arendt questions the value of the ​vita contemplativa​ and she proposes that a life of action, ​vita activa​, is central to the human condition. Hannah Arendt is one of the most influential thinkers and writers of the 20th century. She is typically associated with her work on totalitarianism and the philosophical roots of evil and judgment. ​The Human Condition​ offers a comprehensive view of what Arendt sees as the inherent value of living with others and collectively shaping the world we share. She asks the reader to consider the activities that help us feel most at home with ourselves.

We will read ​The Human Condition​ in its entirety. The book asks more questions than it answers about what it means to be human in the modern world. How do we create a ​vita activa​ and a life lived in public when our society has become increasingly insular and individual? What are the forces in modern life that are hindrances to the ​vita activa​? Is a life lived through action and labor really the best way of living? We will grapple with these questions with the intensity and rigor that they deserve.

Text:

Hannah Arendt, ​The Human Condition

Delve Access Program
We want Delve seminars to be accessible to everyone, regardless of income and background. We understand that our tuition structure can present obstacles for some people. We are happy to offer an Access Program which provides reduced tuition to qualifying participants. Our Access Program offers Delve seminar registrations at a sliding scale amount of $45-$100 per registration. Most Delves have at least one access spot available. Contact Susan Moore at susan@literary-arts.org if you would like to take a Delve at the Access Rate

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Mary Finn

Mary Finn was a National Endowment for the Humanities Fellow in the Bard College NEH seminar program on Hannah Arendt and she received an NEH fellowship to study fictional dystopias and utopias at St. Mary’s College in Moraga, CA. She was awarded the Educators for Educators fellowship with the National Women’s History Museum where she wrote curriculum about Charlotte Perkins Gillman’s writing. Mary founded and taught seminar courses at Polis, a text-based adult education program in San Francisco, CA. She graduated from the Graduate Institute of St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM, which is a text-based, seminar-focused college. Mary’s worked as a high school teacher and administrator for 20 years. Her writing has been published in Ms. Magazine, Education Week, Orlando Weekly, The Mercury (Hobart, Australia), Salt Lake City Weekly, and the Baltimore Sun.
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