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Routledge, Dec 22, 2015 - Philosophy - 182 pages

"One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important." - Bertrand Russell

Work is one of the most universal features of human life; virtually everybody spends some part of their life at work. It is often associated with tedium and boredom, in conflict with the things we would otherwise love to do. The idea of work primarily as a burden was also shared by the philosophers in ancient Greece, who generally regarded work as a curse. And yet research shows that it prolongs life and is generally good for people’s physical and mental health. Why is this? What is the meaning of work? To what extent does it determine our social identity? Should we expect to find work fulfilling?

In this book, Lars Svendsen explores these questions and more. He argues that we need to complete this reorientation of our feelings about work and collapse the differences between leisure and work. Work is always with us. But to overcome the sense of being burnt out, we must think of work as not only productive but recreative – in other words, a lot more like leisure.

Revised and updated in light of the global financial crisis, this second edition also includes a new chapter on work and globalization.


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Preface to the second edition
a brief history of the philosophy
Two Work and meaning
Three The distribution of work
Four Work and leisure
Five Being managed
Six Getting paid
Seven Work in an age of affluence
Eight Work and globalization
Nine The end of work?
Ten Life and work
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About the author (2015)

Lars Svendsen is a professor in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Bergen, Norway. He is the author of A Philosophy of Boredom (2005), Fashion: a Philosophy (2006), A Philosophy of Fear (2008), A Philosophy of Evil (2010), and A Philosophy of Freedom (2014). His books have been translated into twenty-seven languages.

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