3. Immanuel Kant: Human Beings Are the Only Animals with an Existential Need for Work (Cited in Svendsen 2008, P.30)

Immanuel Kant claimed that human are the only animals with an existential need for work. Without work, we would simply be bored to death because work provides our lives with content (Kant [1803] 1902- :471). One thing we can’t deny, work is a fundamental part in a human life. Everybody needs to work, and surely there’ll be a certain amount of people who enjoy and find passion in theirs. But in contrast, there’ll be people who endure boredom, or suffer stress from their work, people that will try the best to get through their work days. So what make the difference between these people? It’s the matter of the meaning of their work, whether they find their work meaningful; therefore find the passion in it. If they can’t, then work will be extremely boring, soon become a heavy burden. According to Lars Svendsen (2008, p.30), this is the crucial point Kant overlooked when he made his claim.

So, what makes work a fundamental part of human life, apart from the essential need of feeding themselves? One reasonable explanation suggested by Lars Svendsen (2008, p.31):” The need for meaning is a fundamental human need, and work is one of the primary sources of such meaning”. It also states that:” Work without meaning, on the other hand, can be akin to torture”.
Remember when I was a little kid, I read a lot of cowboy comics. The comic tells the story about criminals that reflect the point I’m trying to make. When criminals go to jail, they have to serve time, sitting around doing nothing, it’s considered a cruel punishment. But back in the day in the Wild West, the inmates have to work for a whole day. The wardens just gather them around in the yard and make them smash rocks, and those smashed rock will be disposed at the end of the day. To them, that kind of meaningless labour is even a harder punishment, as they look forward to the end of a day every day, when they can return to their cell. To make a contrast with this story, I’ll give another example, with the exact...