Hannah Arendt’s The Human Condition is not about human nature. Arendt says little if anything about what it means to be human in the sense of our natural humanity. Her inquiry is premised on the fact that we humans are conditioned beings, that we are born into an already existing world. That world is made through human artifice; it also conditions us humans insofar as we must live and die in a humanly built world.
In Democracy in America Alexis de Tocqueville argues that the American brand of religion—strong on morality while permissive on rituals and dogma—is deeply important to liberal democracy. While democracy secures and fosters political and civil liberties, religion nurtures a “civic religion” that privileges moral consensus over dogmatism.
There are about 2.3 million people incarcerated in the United States, a reality that makes the United States notorious for being the world's leader in incarceration. In recent years, however, this phenomenon—mass incarceration, has gained momentum as a matter of discussion in conversations about criminal justice.
Sara Cederberg looks at the now perennial “crisis of the humanities” and writes that one reason for the crisis is “the fact that there is no longer a case to be made for the cultivation of the soul.” If the humanities emerged as a project of national storytelling so that humanists were engaged in the “preservation and cultivation of the nation’s soul,” the turn to science as the dominant cultural force has left the humanities adrift.
Louis Menand writes a long and important account of the “New Left” as it emerged in the cultural politics of the 1960s. Pace Menand, the core tenets of the “New Left” are a fight against “the system” and an understanding of politics as an existential struggle in self-actualization.