The Work and Leisure Series: A Philosophical Examination

Is there more to life than work?

Are our identities totally subsumed in our job titles and ranking within our companies’ social hierarchies?

Of course, through work we can find meaning and purpose. We feel useful knowing that we are effectively contributing to the smooth functioning of society.

However, we must ask, has our obsession with efficiency and productivity gone too far. In modern societies, we are seeing rising rates of anxiety and worker  burnout. In a digital world, the boundary lines between work and home life begins to disappear.

Paradoxically, as ‘busyness’ has become some what of a status symbol, those in the higher economic and social classes are not those who live lives of leisure, but rather who are completely consumed by their jobs.

In this series I want to discuss the philosophical dimension of work and leisure.  For my older readers, don’t fret, I am not promoting a lifestyle of laziness or complacency. Hard work is important and should be valued.

Nonetheless, my argument is that we need to reclaim a life outside of our professional occupations. A culture’s obsession with work poses the risk of losing the richness and beauty that the world can offer. Further, an individual who lacks an interior life of meaning and purpose, can slowly fall into the trap of hedonistic consumerism – caught in the treadmill of living exclusively for the purposes of working and consuming.

The psychologist Erich Fromm put it bluntly as he observed that modern individuals,

have little interest (or at least consciously) in philosophical or religious questions such as why one lives, and why is one going in one direction rather than another. They have big ever-changing egos, but none has a self, a core, a sense of identity.    

Erich Fromm, To Have or to Be

In this series I want to look at the aspects of human existence that we have lost, and explore how they can be reclaimed. Some of the topics I will be looking at include:

  • Status anxiety and our identities beyond our job titles
  • The value of doing things for intrinsic rather than instrumental value
  • A review of Josef Pieper’s essay Leisure the Basis of Culture
  • A look at value beyond the confines of the market

Hope you find this series of interest, and a gentle reminder to cultivate a greater work-life balance.

Image Source: Pexels Free Photos

10 thoughts on “The Work and Leisure Series: A Philosophical Examination

  1. This sounds very interesting, I am very much looking forward to this series. Recently I read that there is a link between intrinsic motivation and being more immune to procrastination, even if activities performed are unrelated (e.g. a hobby and daily chores). So it seems intrinsically motivated activity has a general positive influence on our wellbeing, it has an overall ripple effect. I am glad to see this topic among those you want to cover in the series. Thank you!


  2. I’m retired. I know many retired people are at a loss to fill the vacuum crated when one leaves a job. They flounder about, looking for a new meaning. Some simply die soon after.

    In my case, the job was the vacuum, sucking me in and stressing me out. I never had a problem because I never had any sense of satisfaction. The kinds of thing I enjoy doing and give me a reason to go on are things nobody was ever going to pay me for.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment. I think we could perhaps find meaning in work, but I do think the risk is when our identity is completely consumed by our work.

      Have you found meaning/purpose in retirement?

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Happy birthday Andrew!

    Great post below – look forward to the series Striving for balance is such a challenge, personally. I aim for harmony, it allows me to go with the ebbs and flows of life and be ok with when some of aspects of my life are out of whack and more demanding than other times.

    You are a great thinker and writer and I appreciate your contributions


    Sent from my iPhone


    Liked by 1 person

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