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Leisure: The Basis of Culture Paperback – 1 Oct 2009


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Amazon.com: 27 reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Two for the price of one 11 July 2011
By DeacBelAir - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is really two in one. The first "Leisure, The Basis of Culture" and "The Philosophical Act."
The first book starts with the premise that "the foundation of Western culture is leisure." Something not easily appreciated in our hectic life. Yet the end point of this leisure is not laziness but celebration. "The most festive festival it is possible to celebrate is divine worship." I never thought of liturgy as leisure before I read this book. Pieper makes a wonderful point that liturgy does not serve any pratical purpose. Rather liturgy carries us into another dimenension. "Carried away out of the straitness of the workaday world into the heart of the universe."
In the second book, Pieper asks the question. "What does philosophizing mean?" For Pieper it means to step outside our everday world, "to see the stars above the roof, to preserve our apprehension of the universality of things in the midst of the habits of daily life." Wonderful!
26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
philosophically engaging short book 11 Jun. 2010
By J. Jones - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read this short book in one sitting and felt inspired at the end of each chapter. Pieper encourages us to escape the routine of our work life to contemplate the transcendental. Pieper's question, "what are we doing here and now?" gave me pause to think about my existence and purpose. Throughout the work, Pieper uses the metaphor of the "dome" that imprisons people into a life focused on work. While work is necessary to fulfill basic needs, modernity has made it into something that has stolen what it means to be human. Pieper begs us to throw open the window to seek the metaphysical divine and to engage in philosophical deliberation, which provides hope and wonder to an otherwise totalizing life.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Requird Reading 7 Aug. 2012
By Paul A. Byrnes - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is probably needed now more than 60 years ago when it was written. Then computers and i-phones and i-pads were not a distraction from real life. No one is where they are anymore. We can always be at work. Leisure is not laziness. The author says it is a way of being present to the moment and leaving ourselves open to the reality around us.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
The Path to Recover Lost Treasure 9 Jan. 2012
By Achilles - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
If this were required reading for the entire body of teachers in the United States of America, really, sadly, there would probably be little to no positive effect. However, if teachers were somehow open to the deep roots of wisdom in this book, and somehow magically made literate in the sense that Joseph Pieper would mean it, then the transformation would appear to be miraculous.

I am afraid that there are so many variations of distractions and diversions in America today that general reading of this book is a highly impractical wish. However, for that semi-rare Catholic intellectual whose feet are firmly grounded in the Great Western Tradition, this book is a precious gift. A clear guide to a recovery of what our leisure time ought to entail and how this was the original building blocks of culture and civilization is a fresh shower of common sense in this modern desert of the driest drought of scientistic modernism.

Do not let this book pass you by! Joseph Pieper is a crystal clear Thomist philosopher who writes plainly about difficult philosophical concepts and makes them available to us less gifted leisurists. It is slow reading but well worth the effort to propel you on to an effective and necessary use of your leisure time.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
A Quick Summary of Pieper's Leisure 26 Mar. 2013
By Alan Bennett - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Josef Pieper's book Leisure: The Basis of Culture is a very well written book that is just as true today as it was when it was written in Germany in 1948. Pieper unpacks and explains the philosophical views of the term leisure not as we understand it to be today, but rather as it was described by Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, and then later challenged by Immanuel Kant.
Pieper begins by clarifying what leisure is and is not. Leisure is not vacation, a holiday, a break from work, idleness or stillness; this is just laziness. This modern day view of leisure is more a waste of time than anything else. This act of laziness does not benefit anyone and is selfish. God put us here for a reason and that reason is to be productive and to glorify Him, and this, as Pieper explains can be done even in leisure.
Leisure is a way to pause and give back to God. It is both a spiritual and mental attitude of the mind. It is to be similar to when God rested from creation. In the same way God looked and saw that, "it was good" we are to look upon our accomplishments with a healthy heavenly perspective in order to see both God and the good in them. When done properly, leisure will become a type of worship and giving back to God, and because of this we will become revived. Proper leisure helps to keep us in a constant state of worship towards our Creator.
To the average Christian, this definition of leisure should not come as a surprise given the fact that we are instructed to partake in the Sabbath. Just as God rested, he instructs us to rest in the form of the Sabbath. Not only does the word Sabbath come from the root word rest, but it was designed by God to be time specifically for us to worship him. Leisure and the Sabbath go hand in hand and when thought of in Pieper's terms it makes each one more fulfilling and easier to accomplish.
It is important to note that Pieper points out that work and suffering are not necessary in order to benefit from leisure. Kant believes that nothing can be considered good unless man has struggled and worked to obtain it. So to him, leisure is not productive for anything since it is the absence of struggle and work. He believes that nothing good comes for free and since leisure in his mind is effortless it cant be good. This is a common view amongst most people, but from a Christian perspective however this could not be farther from the truth. The best thing in life came to us free, and that is salvation. While it is true that as a society we struggle to accept things that we do not work for or deserve, it does not make works necessary in order for them to be good works. As a society we are very concerned with earning merit and working towards differing means to varying ends. And while these are good traits to have, they are not required in order to stop, listen, and give glory back to God through leisure as we observe all he has done and given to us. For this reason leisure can be viewed as a good merit even though it does not require us to struggle or work.
While this book is not the easiest to understand since it has been translated from German, it is well worth the read. I believe it to speak many truths that are crucial to our modern day society. Too many people think the way that Kant does and believe that you must struggle and work in order to achieve anything good or of value. This flaw makes it difficult for people to accept the free gifts in the Bible and make it hard for them to fully understand this new (or rather old original) view on leisure. Until we as a society can learn to step back and truly observe the things around us we will never learn to fully appreciate all of the things that God gives and provides us. God is great and powerful and deserves to be worshiped at all times, whether it be through the works of our hands, or through our leisure that abides in Him.
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