Saturday, August 7, 2010

Good things come to those who work, or do they?

We've been taught, probably not explicitly, but nonetheless taught, that reward is relative to difficulty.  The more difficult an is the greater its reward.  I'll it the difficult/reward ratio.  It's an implicit concept within our concept of work.  An example can be a medical doctor.  He spends years upon years of schooling (somewhat to the detriment of his social I might add). He receives knowledge that is held by a limited amount of people whose knowledge and expertise is in high demand.  He is hence well remunerated for his knowledge and expertise.  This is the difficulty/reward ratio.

Piper identifies this in Kant and Antisthenes.  Both find the ideal in Hercules, the archetype for the difficulty/reward ratio.  This ratio, Piper counters, passes over whether the reward is good.  He quotes St. Thomas Aquinas, "Not everything that is more difficult is necessarily more meritorious."  So if we were to look again at the doctor.  He might have much knowledge but might lack the social skills learned in school.    St. Thomas continues, "It must be more difficult in such a way that it is at the same time good in a higher way."

There is now a third element in the ratio, which changes the equation.  However, I can't think of a mathematical equation (if someone can after reading this, feel free.  I was never good at math), but rather a syllogism.
If the difficulty is equal to the good, then the reward is worth the difficulty.
I wonder if "good" has been taken out of the equation because the value system has turned inside out leaving what is good to the individual.  The good has become absolutely relative making it impossible to enter into the syllogism just proposed and rather propagating the difficulty/reward ratio.  What do you think?

A reflection on Chapter II of Leisure: The Basis of Culture

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