T306JohnPaulSUBJECTIVEDimensionofWorkHANDOUT1.doc -...

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S UBJECTIVE D IMENSION of W ORK IN J OHN P AUL II’ S L ABOREM E XERCENS The possible grandeur of one’s work transforms not only the face of the earth, but also transforms himself and his own face. The highest reward [or punishment] for man’s toil is not what he gets from it, but what he becomes by it. John Ruskin Those who perpetuate injustice suffer more than those are harmed by it. Gaudium et spes, 27 Phenomenological Description: When we act, we affect and change objects outside or beyond ourselves (“transitive”). This is most evident in our work. Most professional education and literature, for example, is all about how to change things: build a team of employees with complementary skills and talents, learn to effectively cooperate together, use various technologies, attract a consistent flow of capital to fuel growth, discern opportunities in markets, argue and win cases, etc. It is in the objective changes that one begins to see the significance of humanity’s dominion over creation. People have the rational capacity to see and anticipate opportunities and to change the world. Each of us, made in the image of God, has been given a command to have dominion—to “make” something. We are by nature a homo faber, a “builder of the world and maker of things.” 1 This process of making is what the Greeks called techne , which is about the means (skills, techniques, tools, instruments, etc.) necessary to build things. “It is a development of the mind’s ability to bring into being objectively what it can conceive in the imagination.” 2 A competence in techne will differ for each professional, whether one is an accountant, engineer, doctor, journalist, teacher, manager, lawyer, entrepreneur, etc. If we do not have good means to make things, our nature as “builders” will be frustrated, and we will most likely not succeed in the profession, no matter how good or pious we may be. John Paul II calls this the objective dimension of work (see Laborem exercens [LE], 4-5). However , impressive these objective changes are in communications, computerization, construction, travel, etc., work is not simply an activity that terminates in an object. Actually, such technologies blind us to the changes work is having on us. While work always entail achieving the various objectives of the company, work is also simultaneously achieving subjects. The worker changes not only the world, but she also changes herself (“immanent”). As a self- reflexive activity, work reflects right back into the person—it changes me , the employee, lawyer, teacher, carpenter, entrepreneur. We see this quite clearly in the physical changes of the blacksmith. As he forms the metal with his hammer, the very activity is forming his physical body in the development of his muscles. This dynamic, while obvious on one level, is quite striking on another, especially when we take into consideration not only the physical aspects of work, but also the intellectual, emotional, social and spiritual. When people work, they not only
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  • Fall '17
  • Work, Pope John Paul II, John Paul II, subjective dimension

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