Professor John Forbes Nash Jr.

John F Nash Jr. addressing “work” in context of psychology and its environment.

Jon Gulson


Professor John F. Nash Jr., Nobel Laureate in Economics in 1994, had an Open Dialogue with hundreds of Hong Kong students at the newly opened Auditorium of Diocesan Girls’ School on 4 November 2011.

Below is a transcript of Prof. Nash answering a question regarding his motivations to work.

“I cannot claim to have a perfect psychology, though I’m not entirely bad (in psychology) — I’ve had some ups and downs. So why does anyone want to work any more than a minimal amount?…you could take a Darwinian view, but of course, humans are involved to work, they exist in an environment where they must work in order to support such numbers that there are. Then they bring back the bible, in the Garden of Eden, it was not necessary to work, but what was the situation there? Well it’s maybe near the area of the Tower of Babel with the Tigres and Euphrates rivers where there was a Tree of Life and a Tree of Knowledge — and if Adam and Eve, who were the entire human population, could restrict themselves to the Tree of Life, they could live happily ever after — they could just live on that — but, as it happens, perhaps inevitably were tempted and went to the Tree of Knowledge, and then they were multiplying and then they had to work also.

So they were expelled from the Garden, well this sort of thing. We exist in such large numbers we have to work, and we couldn’t just be in Tahiti living on fruits and coconuts and other trees without doing any work except to pick the fruit.

We have to do industrial work in addition to agricultural work to prepare for the agricultural machines and technology and other things to take care of the people who are not producing food and to do medical care so that we live longer and so on and so forth.”