The Human Condition: Contemplation Key to Understanding
Ask the average American what the problems facing his country are, and you will get a battery of standard responses. Some people will say health care, others violent crime, and still others will say drugs. There will probably be some who complain of high taxes or express a need for gun control. Certainly, there is evidence to support the fact that these are all issues of great importance. However, these are only superficial, and there is a deeper problem that will not have a simple legislative solution. Americans have forgotten how to think critically. Hannah Arendt places great importance on living a contemplative life, and it is for this reason that her book, The Human Condition, is a worthwhile text. In it, she offers many insights as to what could help to make the American society better, and it is for this reason that she cannot be brushed aside.
In the ancient Greek city-state, a life of contemplation was considered to be the highest form of living. Philosophers were of more importance in the social hierarchy than even the politicians. This was due to the fact that their lives were lived with no attachment to the necessities that enslaved the rest of the population. A philosopher paid no mind as to how he should feed his family, and thus he led a life of complete freedom. This freedom was expressed through his willingness to engage in discussions and debates that extended beyond what was best for the polis. The philosopher was free to discuss such abstract concepts as justice, and he explored the very idea of what it meant to be human.
It is this contemplative lifestyle that is missing...