Both Henry Thoreau and Josef Pieper inarguably view work from a similar perspective. In Thoreau’s case, his emphasis has been on the need for simplicity in every endeavor. He opines that people do not need to exert themselves to achieve a sense of harmony and satisfaction (Thoreau 93). This was indeed proven by his solitary excursion into the wilderness from which he was able to meet the basic necessities of survival with limited work.
Pieper (33) takes a similar stand on the issue of work. He expresses his reservations about the overvaluation of hard work. He posits that the idea that hard work is of greater value than what is perceived as easy is entirely responsible for the propensity among many people to anticipate suffering in their lives. According to him, this disposition does a great disservice to human endeavors since people are forced to deal with the mental lethargy that stems directly from this type of pessimism.
The views expressed by these two great philosophers indeed indicate that they see work as an end in itself, as opposed to being a means to an end. For instance, Pieper (34) makes an analogy between knowledge and work, stating that the former is one of the highest objective ideals attainable. He equates it to a gift, which he says comes directly to a person and does not require any effort on the person’s part. This is indeed true for several observable phenomena such as bouts of enlightenment or strokes of genius pervasive in society. Similarly, Thoreau (616) reiterates the need to harmonize one’s efforts with nature so as to mimic its inarguably easy and highly effective processes.
Based on the above discussion, it is evident that Pieper would approve of Thoreau’s experiment as it basically attempts to prove that simplicity is all people need to live and achieve the grand objectives of personal and social development. Pieper shares in Thoreau’s convictions that things are not as overly complicated as people make them out to be, but are rather easy and “given.” In light of this fact, Thoreau’s experiment also helps advance Pieper’s own ideals.
Pieper, Josef. Leisure: The Basis of Culture. San Francisco, CA: Ignatius Press, 1952. Print.
Thoreau, Henry D. The Portable Thoreau. Ed. Carl Bode. Rev. ed. New York, NY: Penguin Classics. 1964. Print.