Events Calendar
Oct 25
15:00 - 17:00
Understanding Meaningful Work: An Analogy to Speech Acts
Philosophy Work in Progress
Dr Todd Mei

Abstract: 'Meaningful work' refers to the idea that human work is inherently meaningful beyond its simple aim of fulfilling necessary ends. Work, in other words, is an integral part of the way humans think of their lives as going well. The concept has its roots in Aristotle's account of capability and Abraham Maslow's psychological research on human nature and self-actualization. Via business studies, this concept has been gaining more coverage as employers begin to see how satisfaction about meaning in work correlates with increased productivity. In philosophy, the discussion tends to revolve around matters of justice and whether the State should in some sense take steps to eradicate or lessen the presence of meaningless work.

However, despite the breadth of investigation in the recent, general literature, there is little to no discussion about how it is in fact the case that work is meaningful, or in other words, how the production of meaning in work functions. There is a basic assumption that certain facts about work make it meaningful, which I will briefly discuss in terms of prima facie and historical assumptions. Against this backdrop, one might construe the task of the philosophy of work as one of showingprecisely how meaningfulness arises in work. I make an attempt at this task by drawing an analogy between work and speech acts. Using Paul Ricoeur's theory of action as discourse, I will argue that meaning is predicated in the performance of work in ways that we can say are locutionary, illocutionary and perlocutionary.



Lecture Theatre 2,
Cornwallis South East (Octagon),
University of Kent,
United Kingdom


Open to all,

Contact: Dr Alexandra Couto


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Last Updated: 10/01/2012