The Nature of Work

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tbieter
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The Nature of Work

Post by tbieter »

In the book, WORK -The Meaning of Your Life - A Christian Perspective, by Lester Dekoster, the author defines work as "whatever people do to earn their living." The essence of work is making ourselves useful to others. This is why work gives meaning to one's life. Further, work sculpts the worker and it creates civilization and culture. Finally, "all legitimate work" is the great equalizer - everyone has to come to it to find meaning in life.

I suggest that the prostitute ,in the Nevada county where prostitution is legal, meets the author's criteria above. A biography that I read indicated that Eric Hoffer, the "longshoreman philosopher," used prostitutes to meet his sexual needs.

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http://www.amazon.com/Work-Meaning-Your ... +your+life
Skip
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Skip »

Where did he get the notion that "earn a living" is contemporaneous with "work"? Money wasn't even invented until about 6000 years ago, by which time, all kinds of animals had been beavering away like busy little bees for millions of years.

Work is what living things do to keep on living, either in solitude or in social organizations. Lionesses hunt; finches build nests; caddis flies collect flotsam; moles dig; termites chew; trees suck water from underground and pump it up to their leaves, where they convert light into energy.

So, the guy had a narrow view, limited knowledge and probably a local agenda, but wrote a book anyway.
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hammock
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by hammock »

=The Essence of Work=

It's tempting to equate work with "survival activity", that pertains to both self-interest and the welfare of others (community). However, being worked to death as a prisoner of war or as a slave of a sadistic psychopath does not contribute to one's survival; and the labor given to the persecutors is not voluntary. Likewise, any work that is enjoyable or interesting yet quite superfluous to aiding the continuance of a human or animal's life (even as social bonding) would not satisfactorily qualify. We might examine a supposed opposite of work, like "play", to see if that offers any obscured insights (when reversed) that a lexicon's definition does not capture. But I doubt such would be much fruitful. It may be that there aren't any hidden gems to be uncovered in a dissection of the concept which go beyond what convention's standard / common analysis has outputted.
Skip
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Skip »

Why don't you just use the physical sense: the exchange of effort and fuel for the performance of some deliberate, directed activity. That way, you don't have to place a cultural or personal valuation on the work itself, its intended use or its motivation.
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hammock
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by hammock »

While the title could suggest an untethered quest for the least contingent account of work, the content of the OP itself fastens the exploration to the book, with no less an ironic poke of harlotry in the eye of the author's earnest intentions.

I've already ventured one foot outside the cow pasture or perhaps original intended spirit of the fun here. Too much of a generalization abstracted from particular instances of labor would sidetrack the mildly facetious undercurrent embedded in this topic from the start. Given that Lester DeKoster set the limits to non-arbitrary activity that serves both survival purposes ("earn a living") and socially meaningful benefits; which apparently combine for a special distinction called "legitimate work", from which personal enhancement, communal refinement and economic structure fall out of as a consequence along the way.

Doubtless the late, esteemed Prof DeKoster had written a serious book whose insights will benefit some of its Christian readers and acquaint this perspective to irreligious samplers. So I stress that only the tamest flavor of quasi-veiled sarcasm was intended earlier on my part.
Skip
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Skip »

We could also make a case for the GDP to include the cleanup of oil-spills. That way, we can explore legitimate capitalism and Christianity in their own light.
tbieter
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by tbieter »

hammock wrote:=The Essence of Work=

It's tempting to equate work with "survival activity", that pertains to both self-interest and the welfare of others (community). However, being worked to death as a prisoner of war or as a slave of a sadistic psychopath does not contribute to one's survival; and the labor given to the persecutors is not voluntary. Likewise, any work that is enjoyable or interesting yet quite superfluous to aiding the continuance of a human or animal's life (even as social bonding) would not satisfactorily qualify. We might examine a supposed opposite of work, like "play", to see if that offers any obscured insights (when reversed) that a lexicon's definition does not capture. But I doubt such would be much fruitful. It may be that there aren't any hidden gems to be uncovered in a dissection of the concept which go beyond what convention's standard / common analysis has outputted.
Here is Michael Oakeshott on Work and Play.
file:///home/chronos/u-ae86f4fdbdeff7de0b20b0eeab39ac51b657c6f1/Downloads/Work%20and%20Play%20by%20Michael%20Oakeshott%20%20%20Articles%20%20%20First%20Things.mhtml
tbieter
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by tbieter »

tbieter wrote:In the book, WORK -The Meaning of Your Life - A Christian Perspective, by Lester Dekoster, the author defines work as "whatever people do to earn their living." The essence of work is making ourselves useful to others. This is why work gives meaning to one's life. Further, work sculpts the worker and it creates civilization and culture. Finally, "all legitimate work" is the great equalizer - everyone has to come to it to find meaning in life.

I suggest that the prostitute ,in the Nevada county where prostitution is legal, meets the author's criteria above. A biography that I read indicated that Eric Hoffer, the "longshoreman philosopher," used prostitutes to meet his sexual needs.

Comments?

http://www.amazon.com/Work-Meaning-Your ... +your+life
Some text in the profound study, THE NOONDAY DEVIL - Acedia, The Unnamed Evil of Our Time by Jean-Charles Nault, O.S.B., disagrees with the contention that it is work that gives meaning to one’s life:

“Next, we must recognize the situation of single persons, without minimizing the difficulties and sufferings, but also without overlooking the joys and opportunities. For although emotional solitude or even sexual frustration may be sensed painfully by single persons, especially if their professional life offers them little recognition or gratification, it is nevertheless true that neither a spouse nor a child nor a job IS WHAT GIVES PROFOUND MEANING TO LIFE.p. 192 (EMPHASIS ADDED)
http://www.amazon.com/Noonday-Devil-Ace ... +our+times
Systematic
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Systematic »

Wasn't there a time in human history where play=work?
tbieter
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by tbieter »

Systematic wrote:Wasn't there a time in human history where play=work?
Not to my knowledge.
Systematic
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Systematic »

tbieter wrote:
Systematic wrote:Wasn't there a time in human history where play=work?
Not to my knowledge.
How do you explain that the only thing that children really take seriously is play?
Skip
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Skip »

Systematic wrote:Wasn't there a time in human history where play=work?
I don't think so - some human undertakings were always hazardous and arduous. But I think there have been times when the margin between work and play was broader and less distinct. What we do for our families is sometimes considered leisure time, even it's filled with drudgery, simply because it doesn't benefit a corporate entity and isn't compensated by pay. Also, in modern societies, a great many people are paid handsomely and make profit for others, by activities that no caveman could identify as work: playing sports, playing music, playing a part on the stage or film, playing the fool, playing the market or billiards or cards. So the margins are still blurred.

Children aren't supposed to work. They're supposed to be learning and practicing the skills necessary for work through play. And who says play is the only thing children take seriously, anyway?
Systematic
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Systematic »

Skip wrote:And who says play is the only thing children take seriously, anyway?
Simple observation.
Skip
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Re: The Nature of Work

Post by Skip »

Much too simple. How many children have you been observing? For how long? What ages? Do you listen to them? Do you know what their anxieties and concerns are? Do you understand their pecking order? Do you understand what they mean by play and what activities they consider work, learning, organizing, relationships, earning rewards, controlling their environment?
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