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The more we think about this word “work”, the more we find out that its definition tend to get closer to the very reality of life itself. It is just obvious that life cannot be preserved without work. But if work was only meant to preserve life, we would probably not observe so many transformations into the way we and other animals do things, i.e. the way we live, here synonym to “the way we work”. Let us explain this a bit more.
For example, think about the first nests the birds built, or the first cobwebs the spiders made, and how they transformed their lives, but also how those designs vary from one species to the other, and from the same species living today in comparison with its ancestors. We can also think about the transformation, through time, in the hunting techniques among many mammals including us. After thinking about some examples showing the change in which we fulfill some tasks, i.e. in which we work, we come quickly to the conclusion that work is not only meant to preserve life, but also to transform it. This transformation of life through work is inherent to all species. It is a totally false idea to think that the monkeys or the cows are living in the same way today like they used to live millions of years ago. This idea is only due to our perception of human beings that generally makes us constantly focused on the changes we produce in our way of living, and we systematically forget that we are less different from cows or rats than what we think. Though it can be true to say that work as a transformation of life can be more easily observed in hominoids in general.
When someone manufactures a tool for example, is that necessary to preserve life? Can that be considered as work? Let us suppose that the answer to the first question is “no” and that life can be preserved without this new tool. Then is the un-necessity a sufficient argument to say that producing a tool is not considered as work? At the opposite, we might be allowed to say that life tend to be not only preserved, but also transformed; and this transformation comes from the fact that work is programmed within life, within living beings, as an essential component of it. If life and work were just about preserving life, then we wouldn’t see any possible change in the species, and we wouldn’t even have seen different species on earth, because the first bacteria would have simply remained bacteria; or even if we suppose that the species existed as they are without evolution one from the other, then every species will preserve its life through reproduction and without any transformation. It is an evidence to notice that what happened is not only a preservation of life through the work of getting food and building a shelter, but also a transformation of life through the work of creation.
At this point we could ask ourselves this question: which work is more important? The one of preserving life or the one of transforming life?
One answer can go like this: we cannot think about building a new tool, if we don’t have a shelter and if we are facing a danger of dying of hunger or being eaten by a predator working to preserve his life. Under this perspective, it seems that the work of preserving life is more important than the work of transforming life. But when the environment changes, when it gets drier or colder, when the ecosystems change (and perpetual change is proper to nature), transforming life becomes a synonym of preserving it. If life is not transformed through the creativity of work, it is just condemned to not to be preserved and to vanish. This shows how preserving life and transforming it go together hand in hand.