The Realms of Necessity and of Utility

  • Hans-Jörg Sigwart
Part of the Global Political Thinkers book series (GPT)


This chapter turns the focus to Arendt’s theory of the vita activa. In order to understand Arendt’s account of political experience, it is helpful to first look at her account of labor and work as developed in The Human Condition. The chapter provides a succinct summary of these two fundamental types of human activity. More importantly, however, it examines the peculiar practical logics they follow as well as the existential experiences they provide. It turns out that Arendt’s clear distinction of the fields of experience these activities constitute has important implications for her own theoretical position, particularly regarding her understanding of nature, utility, the social question, self-determination, freedom, and alienation. These implications also help to clarify her perspective on the political mode of experiencing reality.


Labor Work Self-determination Alienation Nature Instrumental rationality 

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hans-Jörg Sigwart
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Political ScienceFriedrich-Alexander UniversityErlangenGermany

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