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Leisure: The Basis of Culture Paperback – October 1, 2009
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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
These two short essays by a contemporary German philosopher go a long way towards a lucid explanation of the present crisis in civilisation.... The first essay... should be read by anyone-and young people in particular-anxious to come to some conclusions about the nature of society." --The Spectator, London
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The first book starts with the premise that "the foundation of Western culture is leisure." Something not easily appreciated in our hectic life. Yet the end point of this leisure is not laziness but celebration. "The most festive festival it is possible to celebrate is divine worship." I never thought of liturgy as leisure before I read this book. Pieper makes a wonderful point that liturgy does not serve any pratical purpose. Rather liturgy carries us into another dimenension. "Carried away out of the straitness of the workaday world into the heart of the universe."
In the second book, Pieper asks the question. "What does philosophizing mean?" For Pieper it means to step outside our everday world, "to see the stars above the roof, to preserve our apprehension of the universality of things in the midst of the habits of daily life." Wonderful!
Pieper begins by clarifying what leisure is and is not. Leisure is not vacation, a holiday, a break from work, idleness or stillness; this is just laziness. This modern day view of leisure is more a waste of time than anything else. This act of laziness does not benefit anyone and is selfish. God put us here for a reason and that reason is to be productive and to glorify Him, and this, as Pieper explains can be done even in leisure.
Leisure is a way to pause and give back to God. It is both a spiritual and mental attitude of the mind. It is to be similar to when God rested from creation. In the same way God looked and saw that, "it was good" we are to look upon our accomplishments with a healthy heavenly perspective in order to see both God and the good in them. When done properly, leisure will become a type of worship and giving back to God, and because of this we will become revived. Proper leisure helps to keep us in a constant state of worship towards our Creator.
To the average Christian, this definition of leisure should not come as a surprise given the fact that we are instructed to partake in the Sabbath. Just as God rested, he instructs us to rest in the form of the Sabbath. Not only does the word Sabbath come from the root word rest, but it was designed by God to be time specifically for us to worship him.Read more ›
I am afraid that there are so many variations of distractions and diversions in America today that general reading of this book is a highly impractical wish. However, for that semi-rare Catholic intellectual whose feet are firmly grounded in the Great Western Tradition, this book is a precious gift. A clear guide to a recovery of what our leisure time ought to entail and how this was the original building blocks of culture and civilization is a fresh shower of common sense in this modern desert of the driest drought of scientistic modernism.
Do not let this book pass you by! Joseph Pieper is a crystal clear Thomist philosopher who writes plainly about difficult philosophical concepts and makes them available to us less gifted leisurists. It is slow reading but well worth the effort to propel you on to an effective and necessary use of your leisure time.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Having spent 10 years in academic philosophy at 3 universities, this book is quenching the thirst I have for deep thinking and illuminating interpretations. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Solange Gautier
This seemed like an academic essay to me; while a difficult read I found the essay to provide a framework for evaluating how I use my "leisure" time. Read morePublished 2 months ago by David Reno
The style is a bit rambling and obscure. It's hard to get the author's point. Maybe that's the problem of translating and moving from lecture to written page. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
A clear description of the demean of today -when work and the time off from work engulf our lives,Published 4 months ago by j, nelson hoffman
A gem of a book consisting of two essays, one provides the title for the text, while the other ('The Philosophical Act') is quite complimentary. Read morePublished 7 months ago by GDP
I've never read any philosophy books previous to this. After a recommendation from a Catholic blogger, I decided to order this and give it a try. Read morePublished 8 months ago by Tabitha D Shanley