Leisure : The Basis of Culture and the Philosophical Act

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2009-10-30
  • Publisher: Ignatius Pr

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"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 special new edition now also includes his little 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. "Pieper's message for us is plain. . . . The idolatry of the machine, the worship of mindless know-how, the infantile cult of youth and the common mind all this points to our peculiar leadership in the drift toward the slave society. . . . Pieper's profound insights are impressive and even formidable."- New York Times Book Review "Pieper has subjects involved in everyone's life; he has theses that are so counter to the prevailing trends as to be sensational; and he has a style that is memorably clear and direct." - Chicago Tribune"

Author Biography

Josef Pieper was one of the most renowned and popular philosophers of the twentieth century. He wrote dozens of titles on all aspects of philosophy and living, including Only the Lover Sings, Guide to Thomas Aquinas, Hope and History, In Defense of Philosophy, and In Search of the Sacred.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. 9
Author's Preface to the English Editionp. 15
Leisure The Basis Of Culture
Leisure the foundation of Western culture
"We are 'unleisurely' in order to have leisure"
The claims of the world of "total work"p. 19
"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 functionp. 25
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"p. 43
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 leisurep. 53
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 worshipp. 65
The Philosophical Act
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 naturep. 77
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. Uexkll)
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--vis de Vunivers
The step as "superhuman"
The distinguishing mark, of a philosophical question: it is on the horizon of the whole of realityp. 93
"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 existencep. 109
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--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 realityp. 127
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