Class - Pieper [redux] - Leisure

A recent comment raised questions about the relationship of leisure and class:

"I am very glad to see the "Social Class" tag on the list. I don't think I've read much on LeisureArts about the relationship between the leisure and class. How does the leisure time of the British upper class gambling in Monte Carlo relate to a taxi driver taking a quick nap somewhere in Caribbean?...It is obviously much easier for the wealthy to have and enjoy leisure time. [Read the entire comment]"

The answer is complicated and we'll only offer a sketch of a response (sorry it took so long by the way):

Leisure is not simply the opposite of work. Neither of the two examples above necessarily embodies leisure. We're using the term as we detailed in this post: Jesuits - Leisure - Josef Pieper. You'll note the distinction Pieper makes between idleness and leisure. To be simply "not at work" or to have "free time," does not mean you are engaged in leisure. Pieper: "...since leisure is not necessarily present in all the external things like 'breaks,' 'time off,' 'weekend,' 'vacation,' and so on..."

The leisure that Pieper writes about is a kind of stillness, a receptivity to the world:

"Leisure is not the attitude of the one who intervenes but of one who opens himself [sic] "


"Leisure is a form of stillness that is the necessary preparation for accepting reality...Leisure is the disposition of receptive understanding, of contemplative beholding, and immersion - in the real."

Pieper delves into the political dimension of the commenter's question by calling for "de-proletarianization." Pieper defines being proletarian as "being bound to the working-process." Thus, promoting leisure is by design antagonistic to social class rather than an embrace of its privileges. Pieper's notion of leisure opposes what he describes as "the total world of work" which can be seen as colonizing so called "leisure time." (The example of gambling in Monte Carlo is an instance of the logic of structured, non-contemplative leisure time and NOT leisure itself.)

LeisureArts is especially interested in the way Pieper describes philosophy's pre-eminent role in leisure. He claims " is the nature of the philosophical act, to transcend the world of work." Philosophy with its connection to wonder, and its "useless" and everyday character as Pieper describes it, serves as a quick model of what we think we're doing here at LeisureArts.

"To philosophize means to remove oneself, not from the things of the everyday world, but from their usual meanings...this is not motivated from some decision to think 'differently' from the way most people is exactly here, in this inner experience, that philosophy has its beginning: in the experience of wonder."


"If someone needs the 'unusual' to be moved to astonishment, that person has lost the ability to respond rightly to the wondrous..."

It's rather old fashioned and romantic, Pieper compares the uselessness of philosophy to the uselessness of love. Maybe it's just what we need in such jaded times - the times of what Pieper calls "pseudo-philosophers" those who "will never be disturbed." To be open, to make oneself available, to be vulnerable to being astonished is not only a requirement of philosophy and leisure. It is also a requirement of love and as schmaltzy as that may sound to cynics, LeisureArts echoes this from Raoul Vaneigem:

"People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive about the refusal of constraints - such people have a corpse in their mouth."