2.6 Well-being as a Development of Capacity
2.6 Well-being as a Development of Capacity We have already seen that well-being models have until now been born from a diffusion of mass production and consumer goods. And in particular from the enthusiastic discovery, that such artefacts can be manufactured that are able to work for us, as modern mechanical slaves. From the memory of hardships of many everyday aspects during the pre-mechanised era was born an idea of comfort as minimal personal effort. As an answer to any question, this idea claimed that the best strategy would be always to minimise the required physical effort, attention and working time, and consequently also minimising capacities and competence that one has to bring into play. The success of this idea can be easily taken for granted. And, in fact, this is what happened: in the end, who has not tried, at the first opportunity, to minimise the fatigue, time and physical stress required by difficult and pestering everyday problems? But human nature is not so simple and mono-logical. A legitimate desire to leave the hardships of many everyday aspects of the pre-industrial era and the annoying repetitions of others is not an all-encompassing desire, applicable in the same way to everything in life. Human beings may tend to be lazy and passive, enjoy being served, but they can also choose the opposite direction. They can find satisfaction in a job well-done, or rationalise which working strategy is most comfortable for them, and find out that the best scenario is to do some things by themselves (because finally it is the most inexpensive way, or perhaps because it provides the greatest liberty) 8. Of course, this active and participating form of human nature is anything but an all-encompassing treat (i. e. it is not something that is always and only this way) nor is it the only ethically acceptable way of being (as the rhetoric about the value of working pretended in some regimes of most tragic memory). Human nature is contradictory; it provides a way of acting logically or of following different dreams – this is its richness. From here the possibility also arises of rethinking the idea of comfort as a form of well-being based on increasing one’s capacities. But first it should be explained why exactly the comforts of today are unsustainable.
2.6.1 Unsustainable Comfort Against this background of positive diversity and various ways of doing and being is going to be articulated the critique of the production system, providing services 8
Articulating this proposal, we refer to the line of thought in the studies on living standards and well-being by an Anglo-Indian economist, the Nobel Prize winner for economy, Amartya Sen. According to Sen, well-being is not defined by commodities and nor are its characteristics, but instead “a possibility to do different things, using a given commodity or its characteristics...” (Nussbaum and Sen, 1993). This very possibility allows in most cases the person to approach a well-being, providing him with an opportunity to “be” (who he wants to be) and to “do” (what he wants to do) (De Leonardis, 1994; Balbo, 1993).
Published on Nov 17, 2010
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