Byung-Chul Han, in his evocative book The Burnout Society, suggests that our hyperactive achievement society is leading many to deep fatigue and burnout. Not that long ago, Ivan Illich urged us instead to find hospitality in the face-to-face relationships that emerge when we take the time to eat and think with one another.
In “Finding Our Way Home,” Dougald Hine and I invite you to exit the burnout society by putting away your mobile phones, laptops, and other technology and to welcome the contemplative conviviality to be found among those choosing to devote themselves to speaking earnestly about what truly matters.
Join us for 5 days in Ängelsberg, Sweden, a small village a short train ride away from Stockholm, as we take part in slow conversations, deepen our understanding of our world, and develop practical skills and vital practices that we can take home with us.
Few spots remain open in the program, so if you’re keen on joining us, we invite you to inquire without delay.
My latest Quartz at Work piece begins:
The trend toward intense 70-hour work weeks is well-documented. Yet even as it has become standard in some industries to work until midnight on most weekdays, there’s also a trend in the opposite direction.
German union IG Metall recently negotiated an agreement allowing workers to work 28 hours (with adjusted pay) instead of the full 35 hours, for instance, and a startup based in Portland experimented with tacking back to 32 hours in 2015 (it reverted to a 5 day 40 hour workweek a year later). Four-day weeks are a regular topic of discussion.
When I look closely at the opposing discussions—one that involves working as much as possible, the other for fewer hours than has for a century been considered standard—I see not only a conversation about hours but one about two conflicting philosophies of work: the Protestant view of labor and the Catholic view of labor.
You can read the piece in its entirety here.
My latest Work At Quartz piece begins:
The quest for achieving peak productivity is now akin to a religion, one consisting of high priests (time management gurus, life hack specialists, productivity coaches, headlining management professionals), various teachings (apps, tools, approaches, methods, reminders, workstation re-designs, forms of discipline), and millions of willing aspirants (early adopters, workshop participants, testifiers, devotees). A search for “how to be more productive” yields, at present count, 40,900,000 results.
What remains deeply puzzling about the obsession with personal productivity is that it is a rather uninteresting goal. Isn’t peak productivity an oddly deflating cultural ideal, especially when put in comparison with Achilles’ heroic feats, Solon’s excellence in statecraft, St. Thomas Aquinas’s holiness, Beethoven’s beautiful symphonies, and G.I. Gurdjieff’s spiritual search? How did it become such an ideal for us to aspire to?
You can read the rest of it here.
Total Work, a term coined by the philosopher Josef Pieper, is the process by which human beings are transformed into workers as work, like a total solar eclipse, comes to “occult” all other aspects of life.
In this interview with Big Think, I talk about the nature of total work:
To sign up for my “Total Work Newsletter: How Work Took Over The World,” go here: https://www.getrevue.co/profile/andrewjtaggart.
A Clarification On UBI
In the middle section of the Big Think interview, I briefly discuss Universal Basic Income (UBI). I haven’t yet advocated for it nor have I argued against it. What I argued instead is based on some antecedents: IF UBI were to be passed and IF it were sufficient to cover an individual’s material needs (that’s not what’s being prototyped in Finland, e.g., as I understand it), then what effect, from a philosophical point of view, might this have on the population in question? I suggested that IF my theses about total work are true (to wit, more and more people are on the way to becoming total workers) and IF UBI so understood were to come to pass, then what’s disconcerting is that most people wouldn’t know what to do with genuine leisure (otium). Given the work society into which we’ve been born and to which we belong, I think that UBI, so understood above, carries some risks since it raises the specter of nihilism, a specter that has been dwelling like a shadow beneath the surface of modern people’s lives while they work and work and work…