Simone de Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt on Labor

Authors

  • ANDREA VELTMAN


Abstract

Comparing the typologies of human activities developed by Beauvoir and Arendt, I argue that these philosophers share the same concept of labor as well as a similar insight that labor cannot provide a justification or evaluative measure for human life. But Beauvoir and Arendt think differently about work (as contrasted with labor), and Arendt alone illuminates the inability of constructive work to provide non-utilitarian value for human existence. Beauvoir, on the other hand, exceeds Arendt in examining the ethical implications of our existential need for a plurality of free peers in a public realm.

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