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The human condition

Posted by R. Berg on May 02, 2002

In Reply to: The human condition posted by Weston on May 01, 2002

: I'm wondering about the general meaning of the term "human condition," because it seems sometimes to mean the current condition of humanity (emphasizing the more impoverished, disadvantaged majority) and sometimes to mean more broadly the condition of being human (being mortal, vulnerable, fallible, etc.).

In the 1960s, when I was in college, its meaning in academic writing was more like the latter, maybe broader. For example, the human condition also includes the possibility of alienation, the desire to find meaning in life, and other things that philosophers and political theorists describe. (See the book "The Human Condition," by Hannah Arendt.) For the former meaning--poverty, disenfranchisement, and so forth--a more apt term is "the state of humanity." But meanings change.

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