Work can comfortably be defined by a dictionary in various ways including the activity in which a person exerts strength or faculties to perform something which involves a sustained mental or physical effort in overcoming obstacles, the task that an individual is an accustomed means of livelihood or even a specific duty, task or function that is part of a larger activity. On the other hand when it comes to philosophical definition of work there exists indefinite answers on the correct definition of work.
In philosophical context its difficult when it comes to defining work on the basis of if it is essential for human flourishing or not. Philosophers like Thoreau and Pieper had views which related and deferred on the correct answer regarding the relationship that exist between work and human flourishing.
Generally it's difficult to define work especially when one considers the vast amounts of work types that a human being can do. For instance one can do a useful work which most modern people interpret as work and it involve application of effort to deliver or to produce an product or the contemplative work or equally same research work which serve to unveil findings instead of producing a product.
Concerning philosophical definition of work Josef Pieper views it as just working to survive and the worker is characterized by an extreme tension of powers of an action, a readiness to suffer in vacuo not related to anything as well as a complete absorption in the social mechanism which is rationally planned to meeting utilitarian ends. According to this Pieper's views that an individual can be truly and completely utilitarian and still be happy.
On the other hand, Thoreau believes on the view that by an individual living a simple life he will be guided to inner fulfillment and more closer to the nature and according to him that is all that individual needs to be happy in this world. Based on his views Thoreau doesn't believe on the mix of the two views where one can be utilitarian ad live a simple life that one can be content with instead he takes extreme views where he assumes that any person who works for a gain toils in despair. Contrary to his stern view Thoreau goes ahead and contradict his own views regarding industry and commerce by stating that it takes an enterprise as well as bravery for an to conduct commerce which contravenes his initial ideas that shunned people to work for any gain.
Therefore based on this arguments I think that what commences commerce is enterprise and bravery where none claps his hands and pray to divine intervention for solution to his problems but rather a constant group of people who remain courageous and determined through out the hustles of work and life and spend less time in leisure just to ensure that they live a better tomorrow. Hence due to the contradicting ideas of Thoreau, I tend to defy on what basis he really defined work as he initially goes to establish a close relation with nature but in the end makes profits from his works.
So given the fact that he does not shun the profit he gains yet goes ahead to disrespect the toil that yielded such profits, then I am inclined on the Pieper definition of work instead of the Thoreau's' inconclusive argument on the correct definition of work. My decision is based on the belief that Thoreau himself must have found a fulfillment in his work since he not only exerted toil to himself but he also found a meaning in doing such work.