“Thinking” in a World of Appearances Hannah Arendt between Karl Jaspers and Martin Heidegger

  • John Francis Burke
Part of the The Yearbook of Phenomenological Research book series (ANHU, volume 21)


At the conclusion of Hannah Arendt’s masterful treatment of the vita activa, The Human Condition (1958), she suggests that thinking might very well constitute the most active human activity: For if no other test but the experience of being active, no other measure but the extent of sheer activity were to be applied to the various activities within the vita activa, it might well be that thinking as such would surpass them all. Whoever has any experience in this matter will know how right Cato was when he said: Numquam se plus agere quam nihil cum ageret, numquam minus solum esse quam cum solum esset - “Never is he more active when he does nothing, never is he less alone than when he is by himself.”2 However, in terms of Arendt’s major distinction between the vita activa and the vita contemplativa, thinking is much more indigenous to the latter. It is not until The Life of the Mind (1978) that Arendt unpacks the significance of thinking as suggested in the above quotation.3


Bodily Organ Sheer Activity Ontological Character True World Karl Jasper 
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Copyright information

© D. Reidel Publishing Company 1986

Authors and Affiliations

  • John Francis Burke
    • 1
  1. 1.Southwest Texas State UniversityUSA

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