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Leisure: The Basis of Culture Paperback – October 1, 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 145 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586172565
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586172565
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 5.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #46,729 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

Pieper has subjects involved in everyone's life; he has theses that are so counter to prevailing trends as to be sensational; and he has a style that is memorably clear and direct. --Chicago Tribune

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

About the Author

Josef Pieper (1904-1997) was an influential German Catholic philosopher, scholar, and author.

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Customer Reviews

This book will make you think about leisure in a whole new way!
Timothy M Cone
I am no student of philosophy so i found the book to be a challenge to read but well worth it to work through.
F. perez
Pieper encourages us to escape the routine of our work life to contemplate the transcendental.
J. Jones

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By J. Jones on June 10, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this short book in one sitting and felt inspired at the end of each chapter. Pieper encourages us to escape the routine of our work life to contemplate the transcendental. Pieper's question, "what are we doing here and now?" gave me pause to think about my existence and purpose. Throughout the work, Pieper uses the metaphor of the "dome" that imprisons people into a life focused on work. While work is necessary to fulfill basic needs, modernity has made it into something that has stolen what it means to be human. Pieper begs us to throw open the window to seek the metaphysical divine and to engage in philosophical deliberation, which provides hope and wonder to an otherwise totalizing life.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By DeacBelAir on July 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really two in one. The first "Leisure, The Basis of Culture" and "The Philosophical Act."
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!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul A. Byrnes on August 7, 2012
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This book is probably needed now more than 60 years ago when it was written. Then computers and i-phones and i-pads were not a distraction from real life. No one is where they are anymore. We can always be at work. Leisure is not laziness. The author says it is a way of being present to the moment and leaving ourselves open to the reality around us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Achilles on January 8, 2012
Format: Paperback
If this were required reading for the entire body of teachers in the United States of America, really, sadly, there would probably be little to no positive effect. However, if teachers were somehow open to the deep roots of wisdom in this book, and somehow magically made literate in the sense that Joseph Pieper would mean it, then the transformation would appear to be miraculous.

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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alan Bennett on March 26, 2013
Format: Paperback
Josef Pieper's book Leisure: The Basis of Culture is a very well written book that is just as true today as it was when it was written in Germany in 1948. Pieper unpacks and explains the philosophical views of the term leisure not as we understand it to be today, but rather as it was described by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and then later challenged by Immanuel Kant.
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By F. perez on February 25, 2012
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Leisure : the Basis of culture turned out to be a great surprise to me. I never thought this read to be the philosophical work that it was. I am no student of philosophy so i found the book to be a challenge to read but well worth it to work through. Like a good movie i don't want to spoil the finale for any one interested in picking this little book up. One thing i will say ; it will change the way you think of leisure once you grasp its true definition as intended by the ancients.
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