Aug 8, 2022Liked by Jideofor Onwugbenu

Free time is necessary to feed and explore one's curiosity. This leads to the best innovations. When one is working under pressure, curious ideas tend to get thrown out. Unfortunately this is an uphill battle. Rationally speaking, both exploration and exploitation are necessary for success, but the suits understand only exploitation.

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"Wisdom generates insights which can lead to breakthroughs that creates immense productivity."

It is important to emphasize that while this may be a consequence of wisdom, it is not what leisure is for the sake of. To reduce leisure and wisdom to instruments of productivity is to miss the whole point. We do not make leisure so that we may work, so that we may be more productive; we work so that we may make leisure. Wisdom is an end in itself. Work is not. "Productivity" is not. Work exists for the sake of leisure, not the other way around. (We must also not confuse recreation with leisure.)

Josef Pieper's book "Leisure: the Basis of Culture" makes exactly this point. Something Pieper covers in the first chapter and worth noting here is that the word "school" comes from the Latin "schola" which in turn is derived from the Greek "σχολή" ("skhole") which is the Greek word for "leisure" (indeed, the absence of leisure characteristic of work was defined negatively, "askholia" in Greek and "negotium" in Latin). Modern education may make this difficult to comprehend, but this is more discernible in classical education. Similarly, the "liberal" in "liberal arts" refers to the freedom to pursue leisure, and these are opposed to the so-called servile arts. And lastly, Pieper draws attention to the prevalence of religious feasts during the Middle Ages whose essential function wasn't to stuff your face with food and drink yourself under the table, but leisure. What could be more "leisurely" than religion, that which is, after all, concerned with the ultimate end and the highest good?

We moderns live in what Pieper called the world of total work (he was writing this book in the postwar period, so this affliction is nothing new). To be sure, we must toil and till the field in which wisdom will grow, but we do not live to till the field; we till the field so that we may live. What is it that we live for, that we ought to live for? Perhaps it is our modern nihilism that frightens us enough to invert the relation between work and leisure, leading us to lose ourselves in work to avoid the realization.

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