I need to ask you about your posts on "leisure" and "recreation." Do these links to other posts bring me to those ideas?To answer Helen's question the short way -- some of the posts I linked to at the bottom of this post discussed leisure but only indirectly. I had thought I had written more posts on Leisure, but I could only find a couple, and most of them were simply links to other sources. I am listing the links below. Then there are some additional web links if you are interested in reading more about this.
Now for the long answer : ) ---
In this post I wrote a bit about the book Leisure: The Basis of Culture by Joseph Pieper. Here is a summary of the book. The idea of the book is that leisure is an essential feature of civilization, particularly its culture. Thus, when we devote ourselves too entirely to the idea of "work" defined as productive output, we limit our personal meaning to the economic, productive sphere. This reduces the dignity of the human being in himself.
A couple of quotes from Pieper's book (he is a first rate Catholic philosopher)
"Idleness and lack of leisure belong with each other; leisure is opposed to both."(If I can find the book in my stacks I will try to type out some more quotes!)
"Leisure is not the cessation of work, but work of another kind, work restored to its human meaning, as celebration and ritual."
This site summarizes Pieper's critique of our educational system today (and he was writing in 1948; it seems even more true today):
His critique of "intellectual labor," "intellectual worker," and the integration of education into the "total world of work." Pieper, in 1948 mind you, laments thecollapse of education into training. He offers that the value of the liberal arts is that "...they do not need to be legitimated by a social function, by being work." He argues that the intellectual worker "...is a functionary in the total world of work...[and] nobody - whether he be 'intellectual' or 'hand' worker - nobody is granted a 'free zone' of intellectual activity, 'free' meaning not being subordinated to a duty to fulfill some function." This is essentially a broader argument against the proletarianization of culture, pointing to the trap of labor as a foundation for culture.
Apparently leisure is related to contemplation. It is different from recreation, though the words are used synonomously nowadays. Recreation is pleasure for restorative purposes, as a respite from labor. Aquinas says that it is an aspect of modesty:
Now just as weariness of the body is dispelled by resting the body, so weariness of the soul must needs be remedied by resting the soul: and the soul's rest is pleasure.... Consequently, the remedy for weariness of soul must needs consist in the application of some pleasure, by slackening the tension of the reason's study. Thus ... it is related of Blessed John the Evangelist, that when some people were scandalized on finding him playing together with his disciples, he is said to have told one of them who carried a bow to shoot an arrow. And when the latter had done this several times, he asked him whether he could do it indefinitely, and the man answered that if he continued doing it, the bow would break. Whence the Blessed John drew the inference that in like manner man's mind would break if its tension were never relaxed.
Leisure, on the other hand, appears to be opposed to sloth -- acedie.
Now, as to leisure as it relates to contemplation -- see this section of the Summa where Aquinas considers whether the active life (as in Martha) is better than the contemplative life (as in Mary). He writes:
...the contemplative life consists in leisure and rest, according to Ps. 45:11, "Be still and see that I am God.".....
Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 19) that "the love of" the Divine "truth seeks a holy leisure," namely of the contemplative life, for it is that truth above all which the contemplative life seeks, as stated above (181, 4, ad 2)....
Gregory says (Moral. vi, 37) that "there be some so restless that when they are free from labor they labor all the more, because the more leisure they have for thought, the worse interior turmoil they have to bear." Others, on the contrary, have the mind naturally pure and restful, so that they are apt for contemplation, and if they were to apply themselves wholly to action, this would be detrimental to them.....
Augustine says (De Civ. Dei xix, 19): "The love of truth seeks a holy leisure, the demands of charity undertake an honest toil," the work namely of the active life. "If no one imposes this burden upon us we must devote ourselves to the research and contemplation of truth, but if it be imposed on us, we must bear it because charity demands it of us. Yet even then we must not altogether forsake the delights of truth, lest we deprive ourselves of its sweetness, and this burden overwhelm us."...
A few articles on the web:
- The Value of Leisure
- Education and the Industrial Model
- School is Leisure (HT: Rebecca)
- Leisure, the Basis of Schooling
I also linked to Cindy's blog in Contemplation and Connections and Hearts -- she wrote this below, which seems to me to relate to Pieper's points on leisure and also to what John Senior wrote in Restoration of Christian Culture:
It occurs to me that one of the main arguments for starting community schools is that they are efficient. Why have 20 moms teaching Latin when one teacher will do? I personally believe the efficiency argument will not hold up because if we are going to argue for efficiency we will have to start arguing against the classical model altogether. Many classical educators espouse agrarianism because it speaks their language. Efficiency is the destructive god of our day not the key to the hearts and minds of students in the classical model. This very efficiency is what makes the school setting unyielding. Contemplation is lost among the wheels of efficiency.I could probably go on and on, but for now I hope this will pull together some of the various ideas and resources I've come across. .... and not be TOO long and indigestible. I know it's hard to read things that are interspersed with quotes, but the quotes all explain things in better terms than I could do myself.