Human condition

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The human condition is defined as "the characteristics, key events, and situations which compose the essentials of human existence, such as birth, growth, emotionality, aspiration, conflict, and mortality."[1] This is a very broad topic which has been and continues to be pondered and analyzed from many perspectives, including those of religion, philosophy, history, art, literature, sociology, biology, and psychology.

As a literary term, "the human condition" is typically used in the context of ambiguous subjects such as the meaning of life or moral concerns.[2]

Some perspectives[edit]

Prominent religious beliefs about the human condition include the Buddhist concept of dukkha and the Christian concept of original sin.

Philosophers have provided many perspectives, from ancient views such as Plato's Republic to modern views such as absurdism and existentialism. Some recent scholars emphasize ethics[3][4] or mental processes.[5][6]

Psychology has its theories, such as Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the notion of identity crisis. Other examples are The Denial of Death and psychotherapist Irvin D. Yalom's focus on what he considers the inherent concerns of meaning, loneliness, freedom, and mortality.[7]

Literary perspectives include "All the world's a stage" and Man's Search for Meaning.

Use of the term[edit]

Notable use of the term "the human condition" includes André Malraux’s novel Man's Fate, René Magritte’s paintings La Condition Humaine, Hannah Arendt’s political philosophy, and Masaki Kobayashi’s film trilogy.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Wiktionary entry "human condition"
  2. ^ The human condition in literature
  3. ^ Shafer-Landau, Russ, ed. (2010). The ethical life: fundamental readings in ethics and moral problems. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 35–58. ISBN 9780195377699. 
  4. ^ Dependent Rational Animals: Why Human Beings Need the Virtues By Alasdair MacIntyre
  5. ^ John McDowell, Mind and World, 1994.
  6. ^ The Really Hard Problem: Meaning in a Material World, Owen Flanagan, MIT Press
  7. ^ "Yalom's Ultimate Concerns". Retrieved 2014-03-17. 
  8. ^ Ningen no joken trilogy: I, II, III