Work in the Spirit 22

imgresHow can we transform “alienating” work into “humane” work?

Miroslav Volf proposes a two-fold test in Work in the Spirit.

First, work must be free.  “Workers should be able to set goals in their work role and pursue them, or at least be able to identify with the goals that the management sets for them.”  “Any action a human being is pressured to do but which she has not made her own goal contradicts her nature as a personal being.”  Second, work must encourage “personal development.”  In this way, people are not treated as “means” in their work.

Volf seems to recognize, though, that this test is too stringent: “It seems…that only freedom in a weaker sense follows from the principle of not treating persons as means – freedom in the sense of being able to set and pursue one’s own goals in work….”  He reckons it is not possible for people to always be “able to engage in whatever activities one desires” in work.  And rightly so.  Read literally, such freedom would be tantamount to God’s freedom.

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