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Philosophical Answers - What If Nobody Had To Work?

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The answer is simple: Then we would all finally have enough to do, writes philosopher Konrad Paul Liessmann.

Author: Konrad Paul Liessmann

Work, as we know, is not a blessing, but a curse. A punishment imposed on us for snacking on the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.

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Konrad Paul Liessmann, born 1953, is professor for methods of teaching philosophy and ethics at the University of Vienna and scientific director of the Philosophicum Lech. He is also a regular guest at the Philosophical Stammtisch of the SRF and a columnist for the Neue Zürcher Zeitung. His book will soon be published: «Let him throw the first stone. Mythological-philosophical damnations »(together with Michael Köhlmeier).

Since then we have had to earn our living in the sweat of our brow - and this sweat sticks to the forehead even in air-conditioned rooms at a computer workstation.

Work is uncomfortable. Not only because it is arduous, externally determined, vital and degrading. But also and above all because it keeps us from doing so many other things that need to be done much more urgently.

Man - an active animal

The concern that is expressed again and again that people in a high-tech society, which makes conventional forms of work superfluous, would be rotting away in a lazy bed, is of course nonsense.

Man is an active animal. We travel a lot, are curious, like to experiment and have a great desire to create something - and to destroy something.

But the work imposed on us by nature to secure a livelihood is the worst possible way to pursue these desires. It was no different with the Stone Age hunters and gatherers than with the modern artisans and farmers or with the modern proletarians and bankers.

Machines to work!

To be clear: organized, regulated work determined by the interests of companies and markets is an activity killer. It forces people to do the same thing almost all of their lives.

That doesn't change even if you change jobs, employers, tools and technologies several times. Work, that is its nature, is monotonous.

Therefore, it should be transferred and left to the machines. What could you do in the eight hours a day devoted to work!

More time for discovery and ecstasy

If nobody had to work anymore, we would all mutate into innovative and creative explorers. We would get to know and explore the beauties of nature and art, the areas of tension in communities and relationships, the possibilities of ascetic solitude and collective ecstasy.

But we would also experience that nothing is as difficult as determining what you do and don't, your actions and your idleness yourself.

If nobody had to work any more, everyone would have to learn to organize and discipline themselves, to sound out and realize their possibilities.

There is always work to be done

It is not at all true that work is a God-imposed punishment. We invented work ourselves so we don't have to think about what else we could do.

If no one had to work any more, we would have to learn what it means to live as a person in the first place. And that would be anything but easy.

Resourceful minds would immediately begin to work hard to teach us the right life. If nobody had to work anymore, work would be provided.

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  • Commentary by Adrian Flükiger (Ädu)
    The circle closes: from the ancient Romans to the self-actualizers. If the UBI is introduced in a hurry, many are on the right track. The broad masses benefit from this most likely and best. Cool...
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Udo Gerschler (UG)
    Such nonsense, please tell the one who has everything to live, receives welfare and would like to go to work.
    Agree agree to the comment
  • Comment from Ruedi Hammer (Ruedi Hammer)
    Mr. Liessmann: You mix and confuse work with income. As a philosopher and after the BGE initiative, somehow just embarrassing!
    Agree agree to the comment

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