Josef Pieper (with a G.K. Chesterton kicker) teaches us the importance of leisure
It’s commonplace knowledge that many of our best ideas hit us in the middle of the night or in our first waking moments. While we are completely at rest, not obsessed with ourselves or our work, ideas come to us like a gift.
The twentieth-century Thomistic philosopher Josef Pieper explains this phenomenon in his work, Leisure, The Basis of Culture.
Like most of Pieper’s books, Leisure is short but thick (don’t be deceived and think you’ll finish it in two sittings). True to Pieper’s approach, Leisure tends to be filled with sweeping statements that compress ten pages of truth into one sentence. This makes his books short, but also makes it necessary to read them slowly and deliberately, with many pauses and breaks.
Leisure consists of two essays: “Leisure, the Basis of Culture,” and “The Philosophical Act.”
The first essay pushes the main thrust of his argument: Leisure, properly understood, is stillness — absence of pre-occupation and an ability to let things go. Leisure is also the end of all effort: We should work to leave time for leisure, not engage in leisure to refresh us for work.
As we cultivate leisure, we increasingly hear the rustling of reality (“only the person who is still can hear, and whoever is not still, cannot hear”). This ability to hear produces a sense of wonder, and this then leads us to engage in the act of philosophy, which is the thrust of the second essay.
As he proceeds with his analysis, he makes startling observations about leisure, the type of observations that … Read the rest