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Is Work Central To Being Human?

Is working part of the human condition? Nina Power examines what it means to work in the shadow of mass unemployment.

‘In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread’ was one of the curses that accompanied the expulsion from Paradise. It would seem that both our dissatisfaction with work and its centrality to our lives go a long way back, and many philosophers, both of the professional and popular persuasions, seem to have believed that finding happiness in and through work is the high road to the good life.

Does unemployment necessarily leave us severely crippled not only financially but also psychologically and socially because we are, in some sense, built for work? Or do we cry out, with Larkin, ‘Why should I let the toad work squat on my life?’ Was Wilde right that work is for those who can’t think of anything better to do? Or is the fantasy of a work-free utopia only ever available to an aristocratic few?

Nina Power is a Senior Lecturer in Philosophy at Roehampton; in recent years she has become an expert in the work of the influential contemporary thinker Alain Badiou and has written an influential critique of post-feminism, One-Dimensional Woman.


Philosopher Nina Power | talks


Date and Time:

22 February 2011 at 8:00 pm


3 hours



The Wheatsheaf
25 Rathbone Place

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Organised by:

Big Ideas
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For more information, visit www.bigi.org.uk

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