September 25, 2023


For splendid leisure

Western Thoughts of Work and Leisure

3 min read

In “The Western Thought of Perform and Leisure: Traditions, Transformations, and the Foreseeable future,” Charles Sylvester highlights the changing conception of function and leisure by pointing up the notions of Plato and Aristotle in Classical Greek imagined, the Judeo Christian watch, and the views of Locke and Marx. A normal objection could be produced against all of these sights in that they existing an absolutist interpretation of perform or leisure primarily based on justifying the problems that exist in the existing and advocating that this is what the work-leisure distinction should be. These views really don’t identify the relativist placement that might be acquired by means of the anthropological examine of the purpose of leisure in other societies with distinctive social buildings or cultures.

For case in point, both Plato and Aristotle reflect a look at that supports the benefit of the leisure engaged in by associates of the higher aristocracy in a hierarchical culture, exactly where the function of the numerous supplied aid for an elite that did not have to work. Consequently, Plato could justify the existence of this class by proclaiming that the best class of citizens had been the “philosopher kings” and that leisure enabled people today to attain the very good lifestyle which was “being aware of truth and dwelling according to correct expertise.” Similarly, Aristotle argued that there was a divinely ordered hierarchy in which god was at the prime, and all those who ended up freed from perform have been the “best human beings”, who could “learn reality, govern properly, and develop society.”

Having said that, one could legitimately object to this check out on two significant grounds. Initial, this check out derives from a specific social context in which there was a pretty little elite class. So Plato and Aristotle are justifying the existence of this class and its means to interact in mental philosophizing with no instrumental benefit. Even so, from the Judaeo-Christian point of view, which formulated as a religion that served to provide solace to the lousy and daily workers and which put a high value on get the job done as aspect of God’s system, these types of philosophizing would be viewed as idleness. While some Christian thinkers, these types of as Aquinas, supported the perfect of the contemplative existence (p. 26), the Protestant Reformation emphasised the virtue of operate, and so did Locke, who observed the idleness of equally the lousy and loaded as immoral. Secondly, just one may object to this classical Greek check out from an anthropological standpoint in that it reflects and supports a specific hierarchical tradition, which expected a massive variety of persons to help a compact elite by way of their labor. Nevertheless, as modern society adjusted and democratizing forces undermined this elite and spread electrical power, this watch that leisure was the entitlement of this tiny class was no more time legitimate.

At the exact time, 1 can object to Locke’s difference in between productive labor, as all that is superior, useful and the essence of personality, and leisure, except built to be recreative business, which is immoral. Locke developed his perspective at a time when the rich home proprietors had been becoming challenged by a expanding course of merchants and artisans, and his view was made use of to assist the accumulation of house.

But his perspective equally is a product or service of his instances, and does not recognize the way do the job and leisure can be integrated into day to day tradition or the way leisure can turn out to be the essence of identity. For example, in traditional cultures, these as the Aztec, Inca, and Maya, farmers have days of celebration and ritual when they are not doing the job, and all those occasions of leisure are what are seen as most excellent and precious in that tradition. And nowadays, quite a few persons see perform as anything they do to guidance them selves, even though their key resource of identity comes from their leisure pursuits, which they have interaction in for self-achievement, learning, and fun.

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