TED Conversations

Matteo Catanzano

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Why do we work ?

We humans, when not unconscious, spend more time working or in education than doing anything else. Why ? Do we work so that we can buy pleasures when we have time off? Do we work so we can achieve money and consequentially status, which makes us more desirable mates ? Do we work because we are brought up with the idea that it is our duty and function as a member of society ? Or do we work in the hope of reaching self-actualisation?

Does it even matter ? Does knowing the reason why we spend years trying to get the best training, to get the best job going to affect our performance and our general well-being ?

I would also like you to consider this quote in light of the conversation.

“All unintellectual labour, all monotonous, dull labour, all labour that deals with dreadful things, and involves unpleasant conditions, must be done by machinery. Machinery must work for us in coal mines, and do all sanitary services, and be the stoker of steamers, and clean the streets, and run messages on wet days, and do anything that is tedious or distressing.”
-by Oscar Wilde, The Soul of Man under Socialism


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    Dec 28 2011: "I have come to know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during one's life; and also that every man should eat and indeed drink and see good for all his hard work. It is the gift of God. " King Solomon

    I personally work to live. I enjoy eating, having a roof over my head, and also dressing. I enjoy extending hospitality to my friends and giving gifts. Much of the work I do is volunteer. This brings me much pleasure.

    There is nothing wrong with work. I feel a sense of accomplishment when I'm working at home cleaning, cooking or washing, or out of the house at my employment . I must admit that I chose to make a living doing what I love. Many in the world cannot work at doing what they love, so they are forced to love what they do.

    I really enjoyed coming across this site after watching the latest TED talk. If you haven't had a chance to yet, look up the site
    It will shed lite at many who are forced to like what they do.
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      Dec 28 2011: I don't believe that there is anything wrong with work. As you say, it can be pleasurable and the sense of accomplishment is important in the life of each individual.

      You are right in saying that "many in the world cannot work at doing what they love, so they are forced to love what they do." But, then tell me: Why do people that can work at doing what they love choose not to ?

      I am more concerned with the attitude people nowadays have towards work. Seeing it as a means to an end. As if work in itself has no or little inherent value.

      Thank you for the link I will definitely check it out !

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