Work is Our Life: Exploring the Thoughts of Theodor Wiesengrund Adorno
Take a look at the world around you, and for the most part you will see that everyone's
busy. Work is an important part of our lives, but has it come to a point where it has taken over
our lives? Many of us no longer find the satisfaction in our daily work lives that people did 50
years ago. We have become slaves to what jobs we have, and when asked who we are, we
respond in work related terms such as "I'm an accountant" or "I'm a sales representative". Could
this be the effect of a capitalistic society? The German philosopher Theodor Adorno seemed to
think so.
One of the basic ideas in Adorno's philosophy is that we have come to see everything in
terms of its economic value. Everything we now do is tied in some way to work. Even painters,
who normally find painting an exciting and stimulating activity which brings out their views of
the world, call their paintings "works of art". Is this just one of many hobbies that is turning into
a stressful endeavor, much like laboring 8 or 10 hours in an office? Many of the problems we
face in life could be avoided by determining what we want out of life before throwing ourselves
into, for example, a job that we don't really want. Adorno went as far as saying that capitalism
rules us and makes us behave in ways contrary to our character. Indeed the world is focused on
money, since more of it can lead to a better life. But that only pushes the idea of "self" into the
background, when it should be the self that controls what one's life is to be.
We would do well to look into Adorno's philosophy and return to our cultural values. Too
much emphasis these days is put on excelling in the workforce, making a lot of money, and
looking professional. If we cannot re-discover the values that made our lives fun and worth
living, then we are simply robots. I'm not saying that capitalism is bad in any way, but that
people need to stop for a moment and take a look at what they are becoming. Adorno's
philosophy was indeed ahead of its time, and it would be beneficial to read his writing in today's
high-paced work world. It's time we started living the way we were supposed to: as mom's and
dad's whose time with the kids isn't cut short because of work, as friends in the workforce who
aren't competing to outdo each other, and as people who don't have to give up hobbies because
there isn't enough time for one-self's well being.

Eric Rannestad