6 thoughts on “IKIGAI”

  1. I haven’t seen it before. My first reaction is that the distinction between “What the world needs” and “What you can be paid for” contains a whole world of social commentary.

  2. I had in mind more the ideas that (a) what the world needs is distinct from what is a viable economic commodity, throwing certain popular economic theories into a tailspin; and (b) people are paid for things no one needs, opening a critique of consumerism. But everything hinges on what “the world” means. Anyway, it was not my intent to begin an analysis, only to point out a direction.

    I found a couple of interesting pages about the diagram:
    https://www.sloww.co/ikigai/ (The True Meaning of Ikigai: Definitions, Diagrams & Myths about the Japanese Life Purpose)
    https://www.reddit.com/r/LateStageCapitalism/comments/8ioiio/can_we_talk_about_this_ikigai_bullshit_again_i/ (My reaction exactly)

    All this talk about finding a fulfilling purpose put me in mind of a remarkable Japanese novel I reviewed recently: “Convenience Store Woman.” Whether it’s a dystopian vision is a tough question.

  3. Hmmm, I think that’s the point?

    IKIGAI is about personal / individual motivation.
    (ie nothing in it at all about economic theories.)

    It is precisely to notice “what you can get paid for” connects to drivers of a wider economy. Anyone can choose to get paid only for the necessities of life (the day job, or universal basic income) or choose greater wealth for greater opportunity and who to share it with?

    It’s only bullshit if people prescribe your “best” choices?

  4. It’s the callout for item (4), “delight and fullness but no wealth” that troubles me. “Bullshit” is a strong term — the choice of some Reddit user, not mine — but others say this diagram deeply misrepresents the Japanese concept; for example,

    If ikigai is about delight and fullness, why does the Westernized version add the off-tone caveat, “but no wealth”? My gut feeling is that the original concept was commandeered for yet another “management” philosophy about how you or your organization can prosper by exploiting something portrayed as earnest and spiritual. The conflation of the urge to be rich with some sort of profound holiness always gets up my nose.

    But I’m just an old cynic.

  5. Yes, I guess any of the labels of the 3x overlaps you have a choice about which words to emphasise (of the four, 3 in, 1 out) but the overlaps are real.

    The urge for wealth – in anyone with a brain – is an urge for power to do something in the world. The moral questions about what / how that might be are in the other sets, the overlaps. (I can’t think of a single person – other than maybe a corrupt televangelist – that might confuse being rich with holiness? A vanishingly small subset of humanity for practical purposes.)

    I only posted the picture not anyone else’s commentary on it or the original concept.
    As a systems thinker I can ignore all that 😉

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