Total Work: How Work Took Over The World

We Have a Mystery On Our Hands

I’m a practical philosopher with a Ph.D. I ask and seek to answer the most basic questions of human existence with others around the world. In this capacity, I speak daily over Skype with business executives and tech entrepreneurs throughout the US, Canada, and Europe about the nature of a good life.

AJT Ojai

During the past six years, I began to see something uncanny happening: the more I spoke with individuals working on Wall Street or in Silicon Valley, those living in Scandinavia or South America, the more I began to notice that work had come to be central in their lives and that they were suffering as a result. In fact, the closer I looked, the more I began to see work almost everywhere.

At a more fundamental level, I started to become concerned that work was obscuring the possibility of our embracing the vita contemplativa, the contemplative life. I wonder: could work be closing us off from genuine love, art, philosophy, and religion or spirituality? I now think so.

In hopes of making some sense of what I saw and heard, I returned to the late German philosopher Josef Pieper’s Leisure: The Basis of Culture, a book published in 1948, to find a starting point for further investigation. Total work,” a term coined by Pieper, is the process by which human beings are transformed into workers and nothing else as work comes to engulf all other aspects of life. To discover how total work arose and in hopes of diminishing unnecessary human suffering, I’m currently creating a variety of media–a book, a newsletter, treatises, talks, interviews, workshops and so on–in order to spread these important ideas bout total work.

The intention of this website is not just to house the content related to total work but also to make more vivid what it is and what may mean for us. To learn more about me, you can visit my personal website.