Last Updated on June 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 178
The Human Condition is a non-fiction book written by Hannah Arendt, first published in the year 1958. Arendt was a social and political theorist who published many books in her lifetime. The Human Condition is often considered Arendt's most relevant and influential work, but she is probably most well-known for her reporting and subsequent book on the trial of Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer who was convicted of many horrendous war crimes and executed in 1962.
The Human Condition does not have any characters (at least in the traditional literary sense) because the book is not structured as a narrative. Instead of focusing on characters, Arendt examines the concepts of vita activa (active life) versus vita contemplativa (contemplative life), explains how people at different points in history have viewed the two, and discusses her own opinion on the matter. She subsequently delves deeply into three types activity found in an active life: labor, work, and action. Overall, The Human Condition is a grand inquiry as to the nature of humanity, in terms of the social, political, economical, historical, and philosophical.