In a world of work that’s increasingly complex and uncertain, could the time have come to seek answers from the sphere of philosophy? Because by encouraging questioning and reflection, it at the very least helps us to restore meaning to life at the office.

Julia de Funès used to be a head-hunter, tasked with assessing experienced candidates for technical posts about which – with all of her 22 years – she understood next to nothing. Before long, she was struck by the nonsensical nature of her situation…

Thinking in a thorough and reasoned fashion

Having since become a professor of philosophy, she now spends her time guiding others in their reflections on the meaning of work. Her aim? To make office life a more Zen-like experience. In an interview in Le Point, de Funès explains that “although a business’s requirements don’t always allow employees to do what they think, philosophy at least allows them to think about what they do: so their actions become considered and their consideration active!” Fancy going a little deeper? Le Figaro has identified several concepts that reconcile philosophy and the world of work, drawn from her new book “Socrate au pays des process”. Here are three of them…

A few philosophical principles

  1. Intelligent action, according to AristotleIn business, it is important to make the right choice at the right moment… But take care not to let yourself be paralysed by the fear of failure! “It’s essential to train yourself to see the risk as an opportunity, not as a threat. Waiting until there’s zero risk before acting is futile and can lead to total inertia.”
  2. The activity overrides the aim, according to Michel de MontaigneAt work, we are generally driven by medium or long-term goals, and all these imperatives immerse us in an anxiety-provoking perspective … But to succeed, it’s much more useful to focus on the action itself rather than on the objective. For instance, “In sport, if I focus fully on the flag (the aim), I fear not reaching it (pressure, stress) and I end up some way off. But if I focus on the right action, on the perfection of my movement rather than on the end in itself, I reach the aim much more easily.”
  3. Freedom according to SpinozaFor the philosopher, understanding equates with self-liberation. In other words, being free is not doing what you want, but rather knowing what you do. If we understand the necessity of what surrounds us (the chains, the norms and constraints from which we cannot break away), then we suffer less.”