Natality

All actions, including my own, occur in a political dimension, or a group of people (The Human Condition 176).  We can give ourselves a different identity within the community of humans that we live with through our actions.  Even the biological sex of an individual is not necessarily a factor in his or her community identity.  In a way, I can recreate myself through my actions, giving me the possibility of a new birth and a new life.  Actions are a revelation; they reveal who I am, not simply what I am (The Human Condition 176).  What I am is a set of features and characteristics, which I may very well share with others.  What I am can be described.  I am human, I am a student, and I am Dutch; there are many other people in the world that fit this exact same description.  Who I am can only be revealed through my actions.  On one hand, we as human beings are equal because we all share certain characteristics.  On the other hand, we are all distinct in the sense that we can draw boundaries between separate people.  The way in which we act makes us who we are. Our uniqueness, which is based upon our actions, allows us to escape the human condition of natality.

Plurality is another human condition that we attempt to escape.  Arendt defines plurality as “living as a distinct and unique human being among equals” (The Human Condition 178).  Referring to the distinctness of human beings, Arendt states, “Speech and action reveal this unique distinctness.  Through them, men distinguish themselves instead of being merely distinct” (The Human Condition 176).  This statement means that the human condition of plurality can only be remedied through the combination of speech and action.  The purpose of speech is to explain and interpret actions; therefore, speech and action must go hand in hand.  Action not accompanied by speech could be interpreted in a thousand different ways.  For example, if a man lived out in the woods, and killed a giant bear, he was involved in some sort of action.  Without speech, the man may have a way to tell people that he killed the bear, but he certainly does not have a way to tell people why he killed the bear.  Actions without speech have no meaning, they are just actions.  Speech and action together reveal who a person is, or what an action is about.  By allowing us to distinguish one human from another, the combination of speech and action releases us from the human condition of plurality.

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