4.3.7 Questions for discussion half way through unit

Back to 4.3.6

Unit 4 Contents

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In introducing Unit 4, I said that reading Laborem Exercens would be the ‘centrepiece’ of the unit – and we are now half way through Laborem Exercens.

This is a good moment for a pause and for discussion of points arising from what we have looked at so far.  Note that, while we are more than half way through the screens in the unit, there is more reading set in the rest of it than up to now.  Hence we are more or less at the mid-point both of LE and of this unit.

(a)  On experience of work (4.1)

      • What sector(s) of work do you have experience of: private, public, Third, or domestic?
      • What can make work in each of these sectors especially appealing and enjoyable, on one hand, and challenging and even dehumanizing, on the other?

(b)  On Rerum Novarum (4.2)

Here is the list of the ‘five planks’ I identified in RN’s remedy in 1891 for the crisis of workers’ conditions:

*  All people, including workers, have a natural right to property ownership.
*  Both employers and workers must fulfil their obligations to justice.
*  When people are in poverty, others must respond in charity to meet their needs.
*  Government must act to ensure justice for workers.
*  Workers need to form associations to defend their claims for justice.

      • To what extent is RN’s remedy still applicable and needed in the 2010s?  Or is this document now of historical interest only?

      • What is the relationship between charity and justice in RN, and is it coherent?

(c)  Questions relating to Laborem Exercens ##1-12 (4.3)

      • “[W]ork is the means whereby man achieves that ‘dominion’ which is proper to him.” This is why “work is a good thing for man”. (#9)

Have you seen work in this way before study of this module?  

 

      • A related question: to what extent have you regarded work,

– as only a practical necessity to be avoided if possible (as in the Greek philosophical tradition stemming from Plato)
– or as a constitutive part of fulfilled human living?

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      • Whatever company, government department, college or other workplace you are familiar with, its basic ‘objective’ aim will be to supply some service or product to its clients/customers/students, etc. The main point in the part of LE we have read can be put like this: at the same time as that is done, it is even more important that the work enables the workers themselves to become more fully human.

Contemporary workplace practice goes some way towards this by giving opportunities for ‘staff development’ – although this concept is usually interpreted more narrowly (for example, in terms of gaining new skills) than what we find in LE.

In your own working life (or that of people you know), to what extent have you found that ‘staff development’ and similar initiatives enable you to become “more a human being” (#9)?

How would these need to be different in order to enable this more fully?

 

      • Is Pope John Paul’s vision of work appealing… convincing… realistic? What lines of argument, in favour and against, could be made in a critical assessment of it? 

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End of 4.3.7

Go to 4.3.8 The critique of ‘economism’ and ‘materialism’ (##13-15)

 

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