A process-ontological account of work

Axiomathes 14 (1-3):219-235 (2004)
Abstract
This essay offers a process-ontological account of work, addressing two challenges in particular. First, I try to show that even though the phenomenon of work is extremely diverse, all occurrences to which the word work correctly applies — according to the current semantic intuitions of the relevant linguistic community — share the feature of being: the creation of something of value. Second, guided by this initial conceptual delineation of the phenomenon, I argue that traditional ontology would face fundamental difficulties in giving an ontological analysis of work, which can be surmounted in a Whiteheadian framework. I take Whitehead's analysis of an actual occasion as a model for an analysis of work that explains how toil (exertion of effort) can result in the accomplishment of a desired end. On this basis of this explanatory model the complex dynamicity that we experience in work as the creation of something of value can be accounted for in the well-defined terms of an ontological theory.
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