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philosophy of work

philosophy of work
Seabass
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#1 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 8, 2009 - 7:22 PM:
Subject: philosophy of work
What is work ? Is work something only humans do ? Do animals perform work ? If work is something only humans do and something that makes us human , why are most of us so unhappy ( dissatisfied )in our workplaces ?

I am looking for a few answers to those questions.

saturninus
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#2 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 8, 2009 - 7:48 PM:

Beavers build dams? Horses, donkeys, and other beasts of burden do work for us. I don't know.
Seabass
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#3 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 8, 2009 - 7:53 PM:

i meant animals performing work for themselves , for their own sake ...
saturninus
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Posted Mar 8, 2009 - 8:07 PM:

Ok, then take the example of the beaver then. Why do they do it? Ants also seem to work for themselves. Collecting food and what not.
twentythreemc
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#5 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 10, 2009 - 10:36 AM:

To define what is work ? Is it not better to put it at the side of what is leisure ? and then deduce from your answers where work ends and leisure begins.

ShaeSays
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#6 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Mar 14, 2009 - 7:39 PM:

This is a neat thread, and I'd be interested to see what others say.

I think that work is what people/animals do to get sustenance.

So ants work to gather food. Cats have to exert some energy to catch mice. Back before we were "civilized", we also gathered food.

Then we evolved intelligence and realized we could gather more or better food if we tried different things, so work became hunting, and by extension making weapons to hunt with, and farming, and by extension making tools to hoe with.

In my humble opinion, somewhere along the way we started to want more than we needed so we needed to work more to get it. Then we specialized, so that now if you want to work more, then I have to work more too or we won't be able to trade, which is necessary because we now specialize and I don't have everything I need. And then slowly governments and powerful/rich people got involved so they control the food sources so we have to do more of what they want us to do to get it, rather than picking it out of the yard like we used to do. So then work started to be a trap, which is why it makes us unhappy.

See Daniel Quinn for more on this.

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Posted Aug 13, 2009 - 8:27 AM:

Work, I believe is some concept inherent in our being.
I think, as humans we have a overwhelmingly primitive drive to work, be it practising medicine or sewing buttons on t-shirts. To some extent, it provides ourselves with a raison d'etre, to be is to disclose our being, and this is done to a considerable degree through the means of work.
Of course it depends on the demarcation of "work" as a concept, but "work" as it is conceptualized by most, namely the participation in an activity which has a determinible goal, so to speak, is certainly a pursuit which seems to satisfy, both in the realisation of the goal achieved and in the progressive 'move' to that end.
Neither is sufficient, individually, to conjure the same satisfaction as both in a structural whole.

I think animals lack the dualistic structure to work. Theirs concerns the end at which the process is directed, and will somewhat overlook the preceding "work", if "work" is definable as the process, the progressive aspect of the whole. Whereas humans seem to value the end in accordance with the means.

Yet, why should we value work as such?
Why does it have such a meaning?

180 Proof
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#8 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 13, 2009 - 8:49 AM:

Ebbsy wrote:
(...)

Yet, why should we value work as such?
Why does it have such a meaning?


Here's an excerpt from a summary of Hannah Arendt's conception of "work" (among other things):

For Arendt, action is one of the fundamental categories of the human condition and constitutes the highest realization of the vita activa. Arendt analyzes the vita activa via three categories which correspond to the three fundamental activities of our being-in-the-world: labor, work, and action. Labor is the activity which is tied to the human condition of life, work the activity which is tied to the condition of worldliness, and action the activity tied to the condition of plurality. For Arendt each activity is autonomous, in the sense of having its own distinctive principles and of being judged by different criteria. Labor is judged by its ability to sustain human life, to cater to our biological needs of consumption and reproduction, work is judged by its ability to build and maintain a world fit for human use, and action is judged by its ability to disclose the identity of the agent, to affirm the reality of the world, and to actualize our capacity for freedom.

Although Arendt considers the three activities of labor, work and action equally necessary to a complete human life, in the sense that each contributes in its distinctive way to the realization of our human capacities, it is clear from her writings that she takes action to be the differentia specifica of human beings, that which distinguishes them from both the life of animals (who are similar to us insofar as they need to labor to sustain and reproduce themselves) and the life of the gods (with whom we share, intermittently, the activity of contemplation). In this respect the categories of labor and work, while significant in themselves, must be seen as counterpoints to the category of action, helping to differentiate and highlight the place of action within the order of the vita activa.


Read more @ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arendt/#ActFrePlu

Perhaps this helps ...
ciceronianus
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#9 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 13, 2009 - 9:14 AM:

There have been (I think) so many "Was Hitler really evil?" threads/posts that I'm surprised nobody has yet referred to that engaging slogun of those wonderful Nazis regarding why we should value work: "Arbecht Macht Frei!" Say it with me!
Hanover
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#10 - Quote - Permalink
Posted Aug 13, 2009 - 12:03 PM:

Seabass wrote:
What is work ?
Work is what I'm not doing when I'm posting in this forum.

Another definition of "work" not addressed in the original post is "something that functions," as in "my computer "works" today, but yesterday it wouldn't turn on." Ignoring the obvious intent of the original post and using the alternate definition of "work," I'll respond to the specific question, "Is work something only humans do," by saying that, no, animals work to the extent they are not broken just as my computer works when it's not broken. So, the real question then becomes, "what would a broken human do that would distinguish it from what a working human would do?" That is a more interesting question to the extent that it asks us what our purpose is. I would suggest if "going to work" is what makes humans work (i.e. function properly), then our purpose is fairly mundane and possibly meaningless. This leads to the paradox of: "a working person is one who spends much time away from work and spends their time with purely academic or recreational endeavors." This paradox brings us full circle because it suggests that I am working best when I am posting in this forum, even though I've described posting in this forum as "not working."
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