The double-edged sword of "work"
Updated: Aug 15, 2019
In his book "Flow", Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi refers to an old Italian quote "Il lavoro nobilita l’uomo, e lo rende simile alle bestie" or "Work gives man nobility and turns him into an animal".
How and when is work ennobling? This is surely a subjective experience, based on the individual's intrinsic motivation and value system.
Under what circumstances does it turn the human into an animal? Perhaps in the realm of much of the still-dominant 20th century Taylorist view that workers need to be micromanaged, monitored, mistrusted. Rewarded and punished like the proverbial donkey with the carrot and stick. Evaluated and judged and set against each other and against arbitrary (and unreasonably short-term) targets. Unnecessary evils.
Let's acknowledge the mistakes of the past and try to understand how we can bring out more of the nobility, and less of the animal.