JOSEF PIEPER LEISURE THE BASIS OF CULTURE PDF

An important philosophical essay for our culture. Leisure : The Basis of Culture. Josef Pieper. This special new edition now also includes his little work The Philosophical Act.

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Pieper writes:. Under the tyranny of total work, the human being is reduced to a functionary and her work becomes the be-all-end-all of existence. Pieper considers how contemporary culture has normalized this spiritual narrowing:. What is normal is work, and the normal day is the working day. Can human existence be fulfilled in being exclusively a work-a-day existence?

There is a curious connection in the fact that the restlessness of a self-destructive work-fanaticism should take its rise from the absence of a will to accomplish something. Idleness, for the older code of behavior, meant especially this: that the human being had given up on the very responsibility that comes with his dignity… The metaphysical-theological concept of idleness means, then, that man finally does not agree with his own existence; that behind all his energetic activity, he is not at one with himself; that, as the Middle Ages expressed it, sadness has seized him in the face of the divine Goodness that lives within him.

He considers the counterpoint:. He begins with the first:. In a sentiment Pico Iyer would come to echo more than half a century later in his excellent treatise on the art of stillness , Pieper adds:. Leisure is a form of that stillness that is necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still, cannot hear. Leisure is the disposition of perceptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion — in the real. Pieper turns to the second face of work, as acquisitive effort or industriousness, and how the negative space around it silhouettes another core aspect of leisure:.

Against the exclusiveness of the paradigm of work as effort, leisure is the condition of considering things in a celebrating spirit.

The inner joyfulness of the person who is celebrating belongs to the very core of what we mean by leisure… Leisure is only possible in the assumption that man is not only in harmony with himself … but also he is in agreement with the world and its meaning. Leisure lives on affirmation. It is not the same as the absence of activity; it is not the same thing as quiet, or even as an inner quiet. It is rather like the stillness in the conversation of lovers, which is fed by their oneness.

It is something that has been built into the whole working process, a part of the schedule. Unmoored from work-time and set free, if temporarily, from the tyranny of schedules, we come to experience life exactly as it unfolds, with its full ebb and flow of dynamism — sometimes slow and silken, like the quiet hours spent luxuriating in the hammock with a good book; sometimes fast and fervent, like a dance festival under a summer sky.

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Privacy policy. It is not the same as the absence of activity … or even as an inner quiet. So how did we end up so conflicted about cultivating a culture of leisure? Pieper considers how contemporary culture has normalized this spiritual narrowing: What is normal is work, and the normal day is the working day. In a sentiment Pico Iyer would come to echo more than half a century later in his excellent treatise on the art of stillness , Pieper adds: Leisure is a form of that stillness that is necessary preparation for accepting reality; only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still, cannot hear.

Pieper turns to the second face of work, as acquisitive effort or industriousness, and how the negative space around it silhouettes another core aspect of leisure: Against the exclusiveness of the paradigm of work as effort, leisure is the condition of considering things in a celebrating spirit. With this, Pieper turns to the third and final type of work, that of social contribution: Leisure stands opposed to the exclusiveness of the paradigm of work as social function.

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Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Pieper shows that the Greeks understood and valued leisure, as did the medieval Europeans. He points out that religion can be born only in leisure -- a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture. He maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for nonactivity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves.

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Leisure: The Basis of Culture : Including the Philosophical Act

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