the triumph of the therapeutic

#49- Leisure, the Basis of Culture


This week, Scott and Karl read Josef Pieper’s Leisure the Basis of Culture. The duo dives into the Pieper-style definition of leisure, work, and their relationship.

Pieper shows us that the Greeks and medieval Europeans understood the great value and importance of leisure. But do we?

Most of us have been brought up on heavy doses of careerism, or what Pieper would define as work related to the servile arts, with the sole purpose of survival. Leisure, in effect, becomes a bad word, merely a way of recharging our batteries.

For Pieper, the whole point of civilization is leisure, or the active engagement in higher things that aren’t economic. Idleness isn’t the point. Leisure should be contemplative, divine, and distinctly human.

What must be present for contemplation to occur? How can you be more intentional with your leisure time? Tune in to this week’s episode and let us know your thoughts.

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In 1948, only a year after the word “workaholic” was coined in Canada and a year before an American career counselor issued the first concentrated countercultural clarion call for rethinking work, the German philosopher Josef Pieper (May 4, 1904–November 6, 1997) penned Leisure, the Basis of Culture (public library) — a magnificent manifesto for reclaiming human dignity in a culture of compulsive workaholism, triply timely today, in an age when we have commodified our aliveness so much as to mistake making a living for having a life.

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