"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." - Bertrand Russell
Work is one of the most universal features of human life; virtually everybody spends some part of their life at work. It is often associated with tedium and boredom, in conflict with the things we would otherwise love to do. The idea of work primarily as a burden was also shared by the philosophers in ancient Greece, who generally regarded work as a curse. And yet research shows that it prolongs life and is generally good for people’s physical and mental health. Why is this? What is the meaning of work? To what extent does it determine our social identity? Should we expect to find work fulfilling?
In this book, Lars Svendsen explores these questions and more. He argues that we need to complete this reorientation of our feelings about work and collapse the differences between leisure and work. Work is always with us. But to overcome the sense of being burnt out, we must think of work as not only productive but recreative – in other words, a lot more like leisure.
Revised and updated in light of the global financial crisis, this second edition also includes a new chapter on work and globalization.
Table of Contents
Preface to the Second Edition
1. From curse to vocation: a brief history of the philosophy of work
2. Work and meaning
3. The distribution of work
4. Work and leisure
5. Being managed
6. Getting paid
7. Work in an age of affluence
8. Work and globalization
9. The end of work?
10. Life and work
Lars Svendsen is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is the author of A Philosophy of Boredom (2005), Fashion: a Philosophy (2006), A Philosophy of Fear (2008), A Philosophy of Evil (2010), and A Philosophy of Freedom (2014). His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.
Praise for the first edition:
'Svendsen’s unique strength is to write on a solid foundation of philosophical insight, and this is in itself a reason to buy, read and let your thoughts fly with Work.' - Poul Aarøe Petersen, Politiken, Denmark
'On merely 150 pages this book gives an accessible and entertaining introduction to some of the most fundamental questions that have been discussed regarding the subject that humans have spent the most time on in all historical periods: work.' - Ingar Kaldal, Salongen, Norway