Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life

Business as a Calling: Work and the Examined Life

by Michael Novak
     
 

Why do we work so hard at our jobs, day after day? Why is a job well done important to us? We know there is more to a career than money and prestige, but what exactly do we mean by "fulfillment"? These are old but important questions. They belong with some newly discovered ones: Why are people in business more religious than the population as a whole? What do

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Overview

Why do we work so hard at our jobs, day after day? Why is a job well done important to us? We know there is more to a career than money and prestige, but what exactly do we mean by "fulfillment"? These are old but important questions. They belong with some newly discovered ones: Why are people in business more religious than the population as a whole? What do people of business know, and what do they do, that anchors their faith? In this ground-breaking and inspiring book, Michael Novak ties together these crucial questions by explaining the meaning of work as a vocation. Work should be more than just a job — it should be a calling.

This book explains an important part of our lives in a new way, and readers will instantly recognize themselves in its pages. A larger proportion than ever before of the world's Christians, Jews, and other peoples of faith are spending their working lives in business. Business is a profession worthy of a person's highest ideals and aspirations, fraught with moral possibilities both of great good and of great evil. Novak takes on agonizing problems, such as downsizing, the tradeoffs that must sometimes be faced between profits and human rights, and the pitfalls of philanthropy. He also examines the daily questions of how an honest day's work contributes to the good of many people, both close at hand and far away. Our work connects us with one another. It also makes possible the universal advance out of poverty, and it is an essential prerequisite of democracy and the institutions of civil society.

This book is a spiritual feast, for everyone who wants to examine how to make a life through making a living.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780684827483
Publisher:
Free Press
Publication date:
06/11/1996
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.70(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Michael Novak is a theologian and former U.S. ambassador who currently holds the George Frederick Jewett Chair in Religion and Public Policy at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington. He is the 1994 winner of the Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion, and the author of over twenty-five books on philosophy, theology, politics, economics, and culture, including The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism. He lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife.

Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

PLENTY ISN'T ENOUGH

Bored with Making Money

The Anti-Business Skeptics

Three Specific Objections

A Glance Ahead

Chapter One

WHAT IS A CALLING?

Callings

Four Characteristics of a Calling

Can a Calling Remain Tacit?

Can a Calling Be Entirely Secular?

Meteorites Across the Sky

Chapter Two

LITTLE-KNOWN FACTS ABOUT BUSINESS

An Overview

The Most Religious Elites

Today Most Religious People Work in Business

Morality and Us

The Only Moral Majority: Sinners

Chapter Three

A MORALLY SERIOUS CALLING

Andrew Carnegie, Wealth Creator

The Moral Case for the System qua "System"

Sinners in the System

Wrong About Capitalism

Chapter Four

FOR THE POOR AND FOR DEMOCRACY

One Cheer Is Quite Enough

But What Is "Capitalism"?

Capitalism Is Better for the Poor

A Necessary Condition for Democracy

A Necessary Condition for Capitalism

Capitalism Reduces Envy

The Tyranny of a Majority

Natural Liberty — Political and Economic

Moral Vigilance

Chapter Five

VIRTUE IN THE MODERN CITY

Virtue in the Ancient City

Passions and Reason

Reflection and Choice

Practical Wisdom and Other Virtues

A Modem Culture of Virtue?

Our Incurious Elites

Business Depends on Virtue

Chapter Six

THREE CARDINAL VIRTUES OF BUSINESS

The Virtue of Creativity

The Virtue of Building Community

The Virtue of Practical Realism

And Don't Forget the Fun of It!

Chapter Seven

SEVEN PLUS SEVEN CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITIES

Mediating Structures, Civil Society

Seven Internal Responsibilities

Seven Responsibilities from Outside Business

Special Business Codes

A Moral Institution

Chapter Eight

BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS

The Transnational Firm

Morality Has Costs

Chapter Nine

MAKING THINGS BETTER

The Bad Side of Downsizing

New Ideas for Labor Unions

Organizing to Help the Homeless

Solidarity with the World's Poor

Chapter Ten

GIVING IT ALL AWAY

Carnegie's Strategy

In Giving, Be Vigilant: Caveat Donor!

The Glory of the Nation

Endnotes

Bibliography

Acknowledgments

Index

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