Comparing the typologies of human activities developed by Beauvoir and Arendt, I argue that these philosophers share the same concept of labor as well as a similar insight that labor cannot provide a justification or evaluative measure for human life. But Beauvoir and Arendt think differently about work (as contrasted with labor), and Arendt alone illuminates the inability of constructive work to provide non-utilitarian value for human existence. Beauvoir, on the other hand, exceeds Arendt in examining the ethical implications of our existential need for a plurality of free peers in a public realm.
Comment: This essay presents a side-by side analysis of both de Beauvoir's and Arendt's philosophical accounts of labour and work. It also touches on some of the ethical implications of those accounts, and their meaning for a philosphical understanding of the concepts of work and labor as they relate to human life. The author highlights a previously unnoticed similarity between how both thinkers approaches the concept of labor, as the category of human activity relegated to the inherently ephemeral: 'labor itself produces no great works or deed worthy of remembrance, nor does it directly contribute to constructing the artifice of the human world that distinguishes human existence from unchanging animal life.' She also discusses the author approaches as they relate to their major predecessor on the topic: Marx. As such, the essay may be used in a variety of intermediate undergraduate as well as master's level courses covering work and labor, feminist perspectives on work and labor, the philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir and Hannah Arendt, respectively, or even philosophical critiques of Marx. The text, while offering a close textual read of both others, also has value for it's broader take on the concepts of work and labor - concepts which have not been readily discussed in contemporary analytic philosophy outside of the Marxist literature.