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Part Four: Catallactics or Economics of the... > Chapter XXI. Work and Wages

1. Introversive Labor and Extroversive Labor

A man may overcome the disutility of labor (forego the enjoyment of leisure) for various reasons.

1. He may work in order to make his mind and body strong, vigorous, and agile. The disutility of labor is not a price expended for the attainment of these goals; overcoming it is inseparable from the contentment sought. The most conspicuous examples are genuine sport, practiced without any design for reward and social success, and the search for truth and knowledge pursued for its own sake and not as a means of improving one's own efficiency and skill in the performance of other kinds of labor aiming at other ends.1

2. He may submit to the disutility of labor in order to serve God. He sacrifices leisure to please God and to be rewarded in the beyond by eternal bliss and in the earthly pilgrimage by the supreme delight which the certainty of having complied with all religious duties affords. (If, however, he serves God in order to attain worldly ends--his daily bread and success in his secular affairs--his conduct does not differ substantially from other endeavors to attain mundane advantages by expending labor. Whether the theory guiding his conduct is correct and whether his expectations will materialize are irrelevant to the catallactic qualification of his mode of acting.2)

3. He may toil in order to avoid greater mischief. He submits to the disutility of labor in order to forget, to escape from depressing thoughts and to banish annoying moods; work for him is, as it were, a perfected refinement of play. This refined playing must not be confused with the simple games of children which are merely pleasure-producing. (However, there are also other children's games. Children too are sophisticated enough to indulge in refined play.) [p. 588]

4. He may work because he prefers the proceeds he can earn by working to the disutility of labor and the pleasures of leisure.

The labor of the classes 1, 2, 3 is expended because the disutility of labor in itself--and not its product--satisfies. One toils and troubles not in order to reach a goal at the termination of the march, but for the very sake of marching. The mountain-climber does not want simply to reach the peak, he wants to reach it by climbing. He disdains the rack railway which would bring him to the summit more quickly and without trouble even though the fare is cheaper than the costs incurred by climbing (e.g., the guide's fee). The toil of climbing does not gratify him immediately; it involves disutility of labor. But it is precisely overcoming the disutility of labor that satisfies him. A less exerting ascent would please him not better, but less.

We may call the labor of classes 1, 2, and 3 introversive labor and distinguish it from the extroversive labor of class 4. In some cases introversive labor may bring about--as a by-product as it were--results for the attainment of which other people would submit to the disutility of labor. The devout may nurse sick people for a heavenly reward; the truth seeker, exclusively devoted to the search for knowledge, may discover a practically useful device. To this extent introversive labor may influence the supply on the market. But as a rule catallactics is concerned only with extroversive labor.

The psychological problems raised by introversive labor are catallactically irrelevant. Seen from the point of view of economics introversive labor is to be qualified as consumption. Its performance as a rule requires not only the personal efforts of the individuals concerned, but also the expenditure of material factors of production and the produce of other peoples' extroversive, not immediately gratifying labor that must be bought by the payment of wages. The practice of religion requires places of worship and their equipment, sport requires diverse utensils and apparatus, trainers and coaches. All these things belong in the orbit of consumption.

  • 1. Cognition does not aim at a goal beyond the act of knowing. what satisfies the thinker is thinking as such, not obtaining perfect knowledge, a goal inaccessible to man.
  • 2. It is hardly necessary to remark that comparing the craving for knowledge and the conduct of a pious life with sport and play dos not imply any disparagement of either.