by Michael F. Reber
Abstract: For more than two centuries in industrialized societies an inherent problem has persisted regarding the role of education and work. This is due in part to the entrenched cultural dogma of the Cartesian/Newtonian paradigm which views the world as a mechanical device and people as organic machines operating within such a world. More recently, it includes the scientific management approach of Frederick W. Taylor which defines individuals as “human capital” to be used and disposed of at will for the benefit of an organizational enterprise or national economy. In opposition to this view the progressive educational movement was born and John Dewey as one of its champions developed a holistic approach to education and work. Over the course of time Dewey’s approach became the cornerstone of holistic education and more recently the eudaimonistic philosophical school in American culture. In parallel with Dewey’s progressivism, the field of systems thinking was developing and a prevalent belief emerged, which holds that all systems, both biological and social, evolve toward greater complexity and that a linear approach to understanding complex systems is ineffective. Therefore, it is the purpose of this paper to propose 1) a eudaimonistic definition of education and work and 2) a systems thinking approach toward human resources in order to create a more humane world.