The Life of the Mind was originally intended to cover an examination of three fundamental aspects of mind: Thinking, Willing, and Judging. Arendt’s death in 1975 precluded the completion of the entire work, leaving only the first two volumes for publication. The work raises a number of important questions regarding these fundamental elements in our mental lives, taking its departure from concerns about how far thinking itself contributes to our ability to tell right from wrong, before attempting a historical account of the conception of Will and bringing forth a dichotomy between accepting the responsibility of freedom, or abandonment of the notion into fatalism. It was speculated that the final volume would help to resolve this dichotomy by appeal to the third faculty ‘Judging’. Where the first volume provides something of an account toward how far thinking contributes to matters of right and wrong, the second volume concerns itself with how far the Will contributes to the production of something new, and therefore how the notion of ‘changing the world’ can function in the world of appearances – themes intimately bound together in, for Arendt, the life of our minds.
The Life of the Mind: Thinking
The Life of the Mind attempts to characterise two of three basic activities of mental life:Thinking (volume 1) and Willing (volume 2). Sadly, Arendt died before producing a third volume she had planned on what she saw as the third activity ‘Judging’.
The Life of the Mind: Willing
Willing (vol. II of The Life of the Mind) contains four chapters consisting of sixteen sections in total. Chapter I (‘The Philosophers and the Will’) contains the first six sections. In Section 1, Arendt examines some speculations regarding time and mental activities she had raised toward the end of Thinking (vol. I of The Life of the Mind).
- Jon Cameron, University of Aberdeen