Leisure, the Basis of Culture

Leisure, the Basis of Culture

by Josef Pieper
Publisher: Ignatius Press
Trade Paperback, 200 pages
Current Retail Price: $17.95
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One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper's Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared fifty years ago.

This special edition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the work's first appearance in Germany, has a new introduction by the eminent British philosopher, Roger Scruton, and a new translation by Gerald Malsbary, and contains a retrospective of past reviews from the first English edition in 1952.

Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. With a series of philosophic, religious, and historical examples, Pieper shows that the Greeks understood and valued leisure, as did the medieval Europeans. He points out that religion can be born only in leisure—a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.

Further, he maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for nonactivity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture—and ourselves.

These astonishing essays contradict all our pragmatic and puritanical conceptions about labor and leisure; Josef Pieper demolishes the twentieth-century cult of "work" as he predicts its destructive consequences.

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