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PSIR 1A-10.9 Hannah Arendt – Previous Year Questions & Answers

Model Answers to PYQs (2018-2023)

1] Critically examine Hannah Arendt’s conceptual triad of labour, work and action. [2019/20m/250w/4a]

Hannah Arendt has talked about the conceptual triad of labour, work, and action in her book “The Human Condition” which offers a unique framework for understanding different dimensions of human activity.

Arendt defines labour as the realm of biological necessity, referring to the activities involved in meeting basic physical needs, such as food, shelter, and reproduction. Arendt argues that labour has a dehumanizing effect, as it reduces individuals to mere biological beings driven by necessity. But Arendt has been criticized as labour, while tied to biological needs, can also be imbued with meaning, creativity, and personal fulfilment.

Work for Arendt is the human activities that transform the natural world and produce durable artefacts. Unlike labour, work is characterized by its tangible outcomes and the lasting artefacts it produces. But Arendt’s concept of work tends to prioritize and valorize certain forms of human activity, particularly those associated with material production. Critics argue that this neglects other valuable aspects of human endeavours, such as artistic expression, intellectual pursuits, and spiritual or contemplative practices, which may not result in tangible artefacts but are equally significant to human existence.

Lastly, Arendt defines action as the highest form of human activity. It involves individuals engaging in collective decision-making, participating in public affairs, and exercising their capacity for speech and political agency. But her conception of action neglects the importance of private life and personal relationships. Arendt’s focus on the public sphere as the exclusive site of meaningful human activity may undermine the value of intimate relationships, personal growth, and individual autonomy.

Hannah Arendt’s triad of labour, work, and action offers a thought-provoking lens to understand different aspects of human activity, but it has been criticized for the dichotomies it establishes, the potential devaluation of certain forms of activity, and its neglect of the private realm and marginalized experiences. [303 words]

The post contains answers to the last 6-year papers i.e. (2023-2018). Answers to the previous year questions from 2013-2017 are a part of our book PSIR Optional Model Answers to PYQs (2013-2022)

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