CS009: Computers and Human Values
Department of Computer Science, Brown University
Notes, September 28th -- Roger B. Blumberg

Reading the Human Condition

"Humans in a secularized epoch see not only different things but see them differently than one who can say panta plere theon (everything is full of gods) or who invites a stranger to his kitchen because there, too, do gods dwell." Jan Patocka, Heretical Essays in the Philosophy of History (Open Court, 1996 [1975]) [11]

"Whatever enters the human world of its own accord or is drawn into it by human effort becomes part of the human condition. The impact of the world's reality upon human existence is felt and received as a conditioning force." Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition [9]

Introduction: Strategies for Difficult Texts

We'll begin by collecting and reading the questions people wrote about the first chapters of Arendt, and talk about the best way(s) to read difficult texts, be they mathematical, scientific, philosophical or literary. We'll then turn to Lincoln's framing of issues in Chapter 1. [Aside: Any thoughts or reflections at this point about Chad's presentation in light of either Moravec or Arendt?]

Arendt's The Human Condition, Chapter 1

More questions:

Arendt's The Human Condition, Chapter 2

Arendt gives an analysis of the private and public realms in the ancient world, suggesting important differences between what these realms involved for ancients and moderns. She then talks about the rise of the "social", against which she says both the public and the private have been "incapable of defending themselves". What is she talking about and could it be stated more clearly/simply?

Arendt's The Human Condition, Chapter 3

We'll go through the last two sections of the chapter ("The Instruments of Work and the Division of Labor" and "A Consumers' Society"), and see which lines/passages people thought most important while trying to make sense of the meanings of and relationships between terms like "animal laborens", "homo faber", "futility", "freedom", "leisure", "durability", "progress", and "work"..

For Next Time:: Read chapter 5 of Arendt (and 4 if you have the time), and plan to finish chapter 6 for Tuesday. plan

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