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The human condition refers to the distinctive features of human existence. As finite and mortal entities, there are series of features that are common to most human lives, and some that are inevitable for all. These features and the human response to them constitute the human condition. However, understanding the precise nature and scope of what is meant by the term "human condition" is itself a philosophical problem.
The term is also used in a metaphysical sense, to describe the joy, terror, humor and other feelings or emotions associated with being and existence. Humans, to an apparently superlative degree amongst all living things, are aware of the passage of time, can remember the past and imagine the future, and are aware of their own mortality. Only humans are known to ask themselves questions relating to the purpose of life beyond the base need for survival, or the nature of existence beyond that which is empirically apparent: What is the meaning of existence? Why was I born? Why am I here? Where will I go when I die? The human struggle to find answers to these questions — and the very fact that we can conceive them and ask them — is what defines the human condition in this sense of the term.
Although the term itself may have gained popular currency with André Malraux’s novel (1933) and René Magritte’s painting (1933 & 1935), both entitled La Condition Humaine, and with Hannah Arendt’s book (1958) and Masaki Kobayashi’s film trilogy (1959-1961) which examined these and related concepts, the quest to understand the human condition dates back to the first attempts by humans to understand themselves and their place in the universe.
The human condition is the subject of such fields of study as philosophy, theology, sociology, psychology, anthropology, demographics, cultural studies, and sociobiology. The philosophical school of existentialism deals with the ongoing search for ultimate meaning in the human condition.
In most developed countries, improvements in medicine, education, and public health have brought about quantitative, not necessarily qualitative, marked changes in the human condition over the last few hundred years, with increases in life expectancy and demography (see demographic transition). One of the largest changes has been the availability of contraception, which has changed the sexual lives (and attitudes toward sexuality) of countless humans. Even then, these changes only alter the details of the human condition. In some of the most primitive parts of the world, the human condition has changed little over the centuries.
Hannah Arendt proposed to destinate "labor, work, and action," as the three fundamental human activities.. They are fundamental in that, each one satisfies the "basic conditions under which life on Earth has been given to man."
Paradoxes of The Human Condition
The Human Condition is defined by the following three paradoxes:
- Human imagination can take them anywhere, dragging their physical bodies along.
- Humans are capable of the kindest, most noble things, but are also capable of the most horrible and terrifying things.
- Many humans hope for everlasting life, but are always inventing new ways to destroy each other.
- André Malraux
- Continuity thesis
- Erik H. Erikson
- Hannah Arendt
- Human nature
- Human self-reflection
- Jeremy Griffith
- Man's search for meaning
- Masaki Kobayashi
- Maslow's hierarchy of needs
- Personal life
- René Magritte
- Rite of passage
- Seven ages of man
- Seven deadly sins
- The Denial of Death
- Theory of everything (philosophy)
- ↑ Ningen no joken I, the first installment the Human Condition trilogy by Masaki Kobayashi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053114/
- ↑ Ningen no joken II, the second installment in the Human Condition trilogy by Masaki Kobayashi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0053115/
- ↑ Ningen no joken III, the third installment in the Human Condition trilogy by Masaki Kobayashi http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0055233/
- ↑ Schaff, K. (2002). Philosophy and the problems of work. Lanham, Md. : Rowman & Littlefield, c2001. ISBN 0742507947. July 2008. Chapter 1
- ↑ Brodd, Jefferey (2003). World Religions. Winona, MN: Saint Mary's Press. ISBN 978-0-88489-725-5.