I had intended to wait for some upcoming episode more relevant to this topic than Husserl to start ranting on this on the blog, but it’s been much on my mind of late.
As you may know from my mentioning it at every possible opportunity on the podcast, probably my favorite undergrad prof. at U. of Michigan was Frithjof Bergmann. He was a student of the major Nietzsche scholar Walter Kaufmann and applied a basically Nietzschean (and Hegelian) analysis of human nature to come up with a new vision for the way we structure our relation to work in our society. I’ll let him take a crack at introducing it:
Watch on youtube.
I’ll post some more thoughts and details about this in coming days, but let me help Frithjof here to give the introduction, because there are multiple ways into the vision here, and this particular emphasis on technology is only one of them. It’s easy to watch this video and get lost in the details of him talking about 3-D printers and things.
The crux of the vision is that right now, we are all expected to get a full time job and pretty much give our lives to it. We are generally expected to at the very least work 40 hours a week at it, which I think for most people is as much as they can possibly stand and still maintain meaningful human relationships (kids, marriage, friends) and take care of practical matters, with some weary time left over for hobbies, or more often than not semi-vegetative TV watching and surfing the net and the like.
At the same time, increasing numbers of people are out of work, not in the least because of increasing technology: labor-saving devices that, eventually, do have to save people some labor. As whole sectors of the economy get continually eaten by technology (farms centralized, factory workers mechanized, service workers replaced by self-serve Internet activities, middle-men cut out by better communications), there’s no reason to expect that we can just replace these jobs continually, forever.
So we can just wait for things to get worse and worse, or we can start thinking now about ways to peacefully and sensibly free ourselves from this bind. Bergmann gives some more information on the overall project here. The “political idealism” point here is that we need to be able to recognize problems and envision (a la Plato) what might be a better situation for us given human nature even if we don’t have a ready answer for how to achieve this vision. We don’t want to be merely flighty and fantastical, but coming up with a vision and determining a strategy to enact that vision are related but not identical tasks.