09 November 2021

Bodies and Artifacts (second interlude)—Arendt's Things

Christopher Lasch
The Minimal Self (1984)

Commodities are produced for immediate consumption. ... They wear out even if they are not used, since they are designed to be superseded by "new and improved" products, changing fashions, and technological innovations. ... Articles produced for use, on the other hand, without regard to their marketability, wear out only when they are literally used up. "It is this durability", Hannah Arendt once observed, "that gives the things of the world their relative independence from men who produce and use them, their 'objectivity' which makes them withstand, 'stand against' and endure, at least for a time, the voracious needs and wants of their living makers and users. From this viewpoint, the things of the world have the function of stabilizing human life, and their objectivity lies in the fact that . . . men, their everchanging nature notwithstanding, can retrieve their sameness, that is, their identity, by being related to the same chair and the same table."

(p. 31)

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