Kirk Lowery's Reviews > Leisure the Basis of Culture

Leisure the Basis of Culture by Josef Pieper
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Jul 24, 2011

bookshelves: philosophy

This book is actually two monographs. The first, from which the book's title is taken, laments the distinction made in modern (circa 1947 post-war Germany) between work that is "useful" and philosophy which is "useless". Pieper argues that the distinction is false: philosophizing (the subject of the next essay) is an essential part of human nature. Leisure is not snowboarding in the Rockies or yachting in the Caribbean. It is taking the time to contemplate Things As They Are. So what is philosophizing? Stepping out beyond the workaday world to contemplate "wonder". Pieper also asserts that eliminating religion cuts out the basis of culture or philosophizing. Not that religion/theology are the same or that it must be a Christian (Catholic) belief. But lack of belief in God empties out philosophy.

It is important to understand that Pieper stands in part in the tradition of the Romantic German Idealists. At least, epistemologically. Much of his argumentation is intuitive, and his discussion of "spirit" reminds me of Hegel. I find myself agreeing with many, if not most, of his definitions and assertions, but I find any grounds for such beliefs to be left as an exercise for the reader, or perhaps he considers these assertions to be self-evident from within. I would contrast Pieper with C. S. Lewis, who always searches for the grounds and justification for holding any belief, theologically, philosophically, or even matters of fact.
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