I have never really thought of work in a strictly philosophical light. Neither have I associated the philosophy of work with being an American. I suppose I am no different from my neighbor or my colleague. I go to work because it is part of life. It is necessary. Without working, I would not be able to live the life that I have now.
Yet those thoughts in themselves are already the start of some philosophical analysis. Why do Americans work? Why is work so much part of our lives? These things – and more – were brought to my attention when I ran across Jason J. Campbell’s article titled Americana and the Philosophy of Work. In it, he highlights how the “American culture is intrinsically tied to labor.” He states:
We are a culture of laborers and Americana habituates its citizens to the necessity of work. We are a culture of workers and therefore any attempt to understand Americana must be met by an equal attempt to understand how Americans work.
Generally stated, a philosophy of work is an attempt to locate the essential conditions wherein work is meaningful. In discussing how a culture goes to work and how their effort to work is meaningful, one must take note of the concept.
In discussing Americana, the vast majority of the population has to work because of an acute sense of economic necessity, that is, they work because they have to. Generally speaking, only the very wealthy or those who have retired have the “luxury” of working for its sheer satisfaction.
True enough. I myself believe that I am part of the former group described in the preceding paragraph. Why do you work?