Leisure: The Basis of Culture

Leisure: The Basis of Culture


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Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper

One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This edition also includes his work The Philosophical Act. Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also 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. Pieper 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 non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture -- and ourselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781586172565
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Publication date: 10/01/2009
Pages: 145
Sales rank: 130,680
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.10(h) x 0.60(d)

Table of Contents

Foreword James V. Schall 9

Author's Preface to the English Edition 15

Leisure The Basis Of Culture

I Leisure the foundation of Western culture

"We are 'unleisurely' in order to have leisure"


The claims of the world of "total work" 19

II "Intellectual work" and "intellectual worker"

Discursive thought and "intellectual contemplation"

Kant and the Romantics

Ratio and Intellectus: the medieval conception of knowledge

Contemplation "superhuman"

Knowledge as "work": the two aspects of this conception

"Unqualified activity"

Effort and effortlessness

Hard work is what is good


Thomas Aquinas: "it is not the difficulty which is the decisive point"

Contemplation and play

Willingness to suffer

First comes the "gift"

"Intellectual work" as a social function 25

III Sloth (acedia) and the incapacity to leisure

Leisure as non-activity

Leisure as a festive attitude

Leisure and rest from work

Leisure above all functions

Leisure as a means of rising above the "really human" 43

IV The influence of the ideal of leisure- "Humanism" an inadequate position?

Excursus on "proletariat"

The philosopher and the common working man

Man "fettered to work"

Lack of property, State compulsion and inner impoverishment as the causes

"Proletarians" not limited to the proletariat

artes liberates and artes serviles

Proudhon on Sunday

"Deprole-tarianization" and the opening of the realm of leisure 53

V Leisure made inwardly possible through Divine Worship

Feast and worship

Unused time and space

The world of work and the Feast day

Leisure divorced from worship becomes idleness

The significance of Divine worship65

The Philosophical Act

I By philosophizing we step beyond the world of work

"Common need" and "common good"

The "world of total work" rests on the identification of "common need" and "common good"

The situation of philosophy in the "world of work"

The relation between religious acts and aesthetic acts, between philosophizing and the experience of love or death

Sham forms of these basic attitudes in life

The everlasting misunderstanding between philosophy and the everyday world of work: The Thracian Maid and a figure in the Platonic dialogues (Appollodorus). The positive aspect of their incommensurability: the freedom of philosophy (its unusableness)

The knowledge of the functionary and the knowledge of a gentleman

The sciences "unfiree"

Philosophy free, its theoretical character

The presupposition of theoria

The belief that man's real wealth consists neither in the satisfaction of his needs, nor in the control of nature 77

II Where does the philosophical act carry us when it transcends the "world of work"?

The world as a field of relations

The hierarchie gradations of the world

The notion "surroundings" (v. Uexküll)

Spirit as the power of apprehending the world; spirit exists within the whole of reality

Being as related to spirit: the truth of things

The gradations of inwardness: the relation to the totality of being and personality

The world of spirit: the totality of things and the essence of things

Man not a pure spirit

Man's field of relations: both world and environment, both together

Philosophizing as a step beyond our environment vis-à-vis de Vunivers

The step as "superhuman"

The distinguishing mark, of a philosophical question: it is on the horizon of the whole of reality 93

III "World" and "environment" are not watertight compartments

The world preserved in the environment: wonder

The "un-bourgeois" character of philosophical wonder

The danger of being uprooted from the workaday world

Wonder as "the confusion of thought at itself"

The inner direction of wonder not aimed at doubt but at the sense of mystery

Wonder as the moving principle of philosophy

The structure of hope and the structure of wonder similar

The special sciences cease "wondering", philosophy does not

Philosophia as the loving search for wisdom as it is possessed by God

The inner impossibility of a "closed" system of philosophy

Philosophizing as the completion of man's existence 109

IV Philosophy always preceded by a traditional interpretation of the world

Plato, Aristotle and the pre-socratics in their relation to tradition

Plato tradition as revelation

Its freedom vis-à-vis theology one of the^ marks of Plato's philosophizing

Christian theology the form of pre-philosophic tradition to be found in the West

The vitality of philosophy dependent upon its relation to theology

Is a non-Christian philosophy possible?

Christian philosophy not characterized by its ready answers but by its pro-founder apprehension of the mysterious nature of the world

Christian philosophy not intellectually simpler

The joy which goes with not being able to understand utterly and completely

Christianity not, in the first place, doctrine but reality

The real soil of Christian philosophizing

the living experience of Christianity as reality 127

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