Posted: February 17th, 2022

The psychology of engagement with everyday life









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Josef Pieper’s concept of leisure

The true definition of Leisure is wavy, some argue it is a quality of experience while some argue it is simply free time away from business, work, domestic chores as well as education, so go as far as adding time spent eating and sleeping. Leisure as an experience usually emphasizes the dimension of perceived freedom and choice. On the other hand, contrary to how leisure has been defined above, some argue that leisure is the time taken to enjoy one’s hobbies or take part in sports, which sounds like working to others-considering there are professional sportsmen such as tennis players. “Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.” “Leisure is not the attitude of the one who intervenes but of the one who opens himself; not of someone who seizes but of one who let’s go, who lets himself go…” Theories have been formulated to define and to try and explain what leisure is or what it ought to be. Borrowing from ethical theory, the leisure ome sees may be associated with specific activities; leisure, as it should be, can be found in rules and values. We will not get labor correct if we will not get leisure correctly.

The unwillingness to receive, to accept a gift, as according Josef Pieper’s leisure idea, is the key to contemporary humanity’s moral and spiritual dilemma. While materialism has its own set of issues in today’s consumer society and the sexually obsessed world, Pieper contends that the broader issue is “the weird proclivity for pain that is etched into the visage of our contemporaries as a distinctive anticipation of hardship.” Could the fundamental cause for the “reluctance to accept a gift, no matter where it comes from” be this proclivity for labor, profession, success, and technological capabilities? Is it possible that we have lost our ability to accept gifts? Have we fooled ourselves into assuming that everything can be gained, earned, or accomplished? This incapacity to accept is maybe the most challenging current challenge (Forbes, R. L, Jr., 2012).

For so many students, those habits of susceptibility or leisure, such as solitude, meditation, worship, and modalities of service where they are with the impoverished instead of doing things for them, are becoming increasingly alienating. Their lack of leisure or receptivity behaviors is influencing how people view work, businesses, and the universe.

Today, in our productivity-obsessed modern society, we have fallen to the oppressive concept of “work and life imbalance,” and we have come to accept “leisure” as nothing more than a personality extravagance saved for the rich or dismal idleness designated for the lazy. Yet, between Aristotle’s time and ours (Levinson, 1998), the most important human accomplishments — our greatest art, the most longstanding philosophical concepts, the glimmer for every breakthrough technology — emerged in free time, in instances of unencumbered introspection, of utter and total mere existence with the human world within one’s imagination and ultimate attention to detail to life outside, whether it was Galileo trying to invent contemporary timekeeping after having watched a pendulum swing in a chapel or Oliver Sacks enlightening the massive consequences of music to the human mind, all while on a hike (Hemingway, 1993).

The German philosopher Josef Pieper (Csikszentmihalyi, 1998) published Leisure in 1948, barely a year since the term “workaholic” was introduced in Canada and a year before an American career counselor gave the very first concerted counter-culture siren cry for reconsidering employment and labor, the Foundation of Cultures is a beautiful declaration for regaining human dignity in a civilization of obsessive work stress, and it is especially important now, in an era where we have co-modified our consciousness to the point that we have confused generating a livelihood with having a life. To recapture a greater purpose for leisure, Josef Pieper makes the argument, is to restore our civilization — an acknowledgment that is all the more desperately needed currently, in a time in history where family holidays are referred to as “virtual treatment program,” with the implicit assumption that we recover from, while also strengthening ourselves for, more fanatical virtual rehab program, which we are bound to continue upon our come back (Google, 2007). Perhaps this is why, when we take a proper vacation — in the original sense of the word “holiday,” time characterized by holiness, a hallowed moment of rest – our perception of time is entirely distorted. Unmoored from time of working and being free, if only for a short time, from the cruelty and oppressiveness of the rules of a schedule, we have come to experience life as it moves forward or as we live, with its full recurrent pattern of failures and success or decline and regrowth of dynamism — at different times slower and prolonged, like the quiet hours spent luxuriating in the hammock with a good book; sometimes faster and shorter, just as a dance event during the summertime.

“Manual labor,” which includes basic and technical labor, and “scholarly work,” which Josef Pieper describes as “intellectual activity as community services, as contributions to the common use,” are two types of employment in contemporary culture. They form what he refers to as “whole work” — “a sequence of triumphs performed by the ‘royal persona’ of the ‘worker,'” an archetypal established by Antisthenes (Jamie Sullivan, 2013). The modern being is degraded to a technocrat under the dictatorship of complete work, and its work is becoming the be-all-and-end-all of reality. Josef Pieper examines how modern civilization has institutionalized metaphysical encumbrance. The paradigm of the three sorts of labor — labor as action, labor as an endeavor, and labor as valuable support — and how each comparison reveals a distinct basic component of leisure is Pieper’s greatest cutting revelation, one of enormous psychological and practical importance currently. He starts with some of the most basic.

Josef Pieper’s concept is one of the best in modernity since Pieper relates to modernity itself, his book having been written in the late 20th century. Josef Pieper’s concept of leisure relates to current dynamics in our culture and what the society approves as leisure; it covers the areas that we should consider or be aware of currently, as a bonus, I think it is the best since it is the most recent of all theories that comprise all round thoughts from other philosophers.


















Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1998). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. Psychology Today. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/200026151_Finding_Flow_The_Psychology_of_Engagement_With_Everyday_Life

Forbes, R. L., Jr. (2012). Michelangelo’s message. Journal of Arts and Humanities, 1(1), 130-136. http://theartsjournal.org/index.php/site/article/view/12/12

Levinson, M. H. (1998). Mapping creativity with a capital “C”. et Cetera, 54(4), 447-453. https://search-proquest-com.libraryservices.yorkvilleu.ca/docview/204084738?accountid=142373

Hemingway, J. L. (1993). Recovering the world: Varieties of philosophical experience. School, 8, 1-16. http://www.jhemingway.net/Academics/Publications/Hemingway__Recovering_the_World.pdf

Wallace, D. F. (n.d.). This is water. Metastatic. https://fs.blog/2012/04/david-foster-wallace-this-is-water/

Google. (2007, November 12). Mindfulness with Jon Kabat-Zinn [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3nwwKbM_vJc

Jamie Sullivan. (2013, May 19). This is water – Full version-David Foster Wallace commencement speech [Video]. YouTube. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CrOL-ydFMI

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