Artifice and Agency

Tuesday, March 24, 2009


So, we're spending a couple of weeks (at least) on Arendt. As a rough approximation, I would think we might get up to the halfway point in The Human Condition, right up to say section 22 in Part IV Work. Sections 23/24, straddling "Work" and "Action" are the precise heart of the book, and it will matter for us as a community to think of it that way, but we can begin *next* week talking about that. Things to think about: Connection of "Work" with what we've been calling "Design" (obviously), connection of Arendt's worries about re-metabolization of artifice in the social with Cradle to Cradle, connection of the themes of the Prologue (earth as prison, instrumental rationality as at once an exaggeration of human power and a reduction of humans to material objects) to themes we talked about in our last meeting from Barthes. I'm a bit of a fanatic on Arendt and there's a real danger of me just blabbing incoherently for three hours, so in order to give some shape and responsiveness to our discussion I want to insist that everybody come to class prepared with at least one question from *each* of the sections we're talking about (Prologue, The Human Condition, The Public and the Private, Labor, and Work), some confusion you want clarified, some point you want to connect to something that happens elsewhere, or something that connects up to other things we've talked about, some passage that seems to you especially problematic or provocative or whatever. That means everybody should come prepared to contribute five points or problems to the discussion. I reserve the right to call on people at random, but prefer people to appear on the public scene as prompted by their own opinionated passions, like any good Arendtian should. See you all tomorrow!


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