What Is It
Is work the curse of the working class? Or a human's best opportunity for happiness and meaning? What is work, and what is leisure? Are you what you do? And how does American society differ in its attitude towards work, and holidays, from others? John and Ken discuss these issues and more with Al Gini from Loyola University Chicago, author of My Job, My Self: Work and the Creation of the Modern Individual. This program was recorded live at Centenary College in Shreveport, LA.
We philosophize about all sorts of things, but for some reason we never seem to say much about work. Why is that? Do we hate work that much? We certainly don’t stay quiet for lack of philosophical material—there’s certainly something to say about why we work, what role work ought to play in our lives, and what your job can tell you about how you think. After all, we spend a huge amount of our lives working—what could be more philosophically relevant?
Al Gini, author and professor of business ethics joins John and Ken to help sort through these issues. It seems like the most noteworthy aspect of work is that hardly anyone likes it. In fact, recent studies have shown that the vast majority of people are dissatisfied with their jobs. That doesn’t just mean that they occasionally find work frustrating or wish they could be cruising in the Caribbean—they actively dislike their jobs, and with intensity.
But why do we live in a society where so few people enjoy their work? Obviously not all jobs are good and someone will always be stuck doing something they’re not crazy about—but all the same, does the situation need to be as bad as it is? Why don’t more people find meaning in their work? Is the issue that we work too much? Should we be looking for a middle ground between slackers like John and workaholics like Ken? What if we only had to work a few hours a week?
There’s also the question of perspective—how does our work influence our perceptions of the world around us? Do police officers see the world at its worst? Do doctors see the world as filled with maladies that must be cured? Do philosophers see confusion everywhere they look because of their line of work?
Why do we work? Aristotle thought that the purpose of work is to give us leisure time. But what if you love your work? Unlike most of the world, we have options in terms of what we do for a living—how should we choose? Should we just be happy to have jobs? When is it too late in life to choose a new job? Listen in to find out more about what these cogitators have to say!
- Roving Philosophical Report (seek to 5:49): Zoe Corneli comes with interviews from a local shopping center. Why do people work? Is your work who you are? Or is work just something you can do so you can afford to be yourself in your free time?