Sunday, October 27, 2013

De Schola

"Leisure, considered as a state of the soul, is the counterpoint to the concept of 'intellectual labor' [the definition of philosophy as conceived by Immanuel Kant] -- and that from all three of the perspectives previously considered (labor as activity, labor as effort, and labor as social function).  First, leisure, as an attitude of inner unpreoccupiedness, is that form of being silent which is a prerequisite for attending to reality: only one who is silent can hear.  Leisure is an attitude of receptive listening, of intuitive, contemplative immersion in being.  It stands, as it were, perpendicular to the normal course of a business day:  it is not, like the work break, a part of that day; it stands in the same relation to the workday as the simple gaze of the intellectus does to the ongoing process of discursive thought.  (Boethius compared the ratio to time and the intellectus to the 'always now' of eternity.) Secondly, leisure involves the adoption of an attitude of celebratory contemplation toward the world; it is sustained by its relation to the origin of all real being, by the consciousness of being in harmony with this origin and being included within it. Leisure is, because of its affirmation of oneness with the wellspring of all being, that disposition of soul in which man can, as in sleep, without any laborious efforts, receive the gift of perceiving 'what holds the world together in its innermost being' -- a gift that is, in any event, unattainable by exertion -- even if only for a moment, a moment whose insights would then have to be rediscovered and reconstructed through strenuous labor.  Thirdly, leisure, as an attitude involving a contemplative and celebratory gazing at the world, is not a working attitude in the sense that it is directed toward performing a social function.  Its purpose is not through bodily rest or mental relaxation to generate new energy for renewed labor.... It derives its legitimation, not from the fact that the functionary remains a human being, that he does not fully identify himself with that cross-sectional milieu designated by his narrowly circumscribed function, but rather from the fact that he is able to view the world in its totality and to realize himself as a being oriented toward that whole.

"But does the genuinely philosophical not consist in precisely this, that despite all exertion and effort -- even at the intellectual level -- the posture of contemplative gazing, which is directed, acquiescingly, at the world as a whole, remains alive?  Indeed, is this not so much the case that one might legitimately argue that its leisurely quality belongs more essentially to philosophy, to philosophizing, and to philosophical education than its characterization as labor?"

+ Josef Pieper, For the Love of Wisdom (pp. 21-2)

1 comment:

  1. 27 December 2013
    Sancte Ioannes, ora pro nobis...

    Johannes, I just finished Pieper's "Leisure: The Basis of Culture." Two thoughts come to mind: Man has abandoned the Word, and Tradition proclaims certainties.

    ** Man has abandoned the Word -- both He who is the Word and the Sacred Page revealing Him. Man has abandoned "lectio divina." Therein lies the crux of the matter. Man does not love (and thus worship) God because man does not know God. Not long ago, Johannes' Prologue was proclaimed every leisurely seventh day in Catholic Churches around the world. I do not suggest we must return to this, but I hint at the lesson to be learned. Equally as "beloved" is his first letter, of which we read a portion at Matins on this feast day of his: a discourse on the Word of Life and a reminder that God is Light.

    "That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life. [...] God is light and in Him is no darkness at all...if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin." (1 Jn 1:1, 5, 7).

    ** Tradition -- ultimately derived from Revelation -- proclaims certainties. Scripture and tradition, a single heartbeat vivifying leisure.

    The whole of mankind unknowingly longs to be "re-educated." Indeed, I have only just begun: "Be transformed by the renewal of your mind, so that you may judge what is God's will, what is good, pleasing, and perfect" (Rom 12:2).

    Cum gratitudo, Johannes. Deus te benedicat...