Sunday, August 28, 2011

The State of Liesure

It goes without saying that leisure was also a prerequisite for the philosophical life, for the contemplation of the Good, and the study of nature, which the pre-Socratics began, and Aristotle and his school (the Lyceum) continued in the fourth century BCE.  Plato and Aristotle both founded schools in Athens attended by young men of means who could devote themselves to such pursuits free from material concerns.

Philosophers such as Plato (427-347 BCE) and his student, Aristotle (384-322 BCE), believed that leisure was necessary for the citizen to realize his excellence and his full humanity in service to the polis (the association, community, city-state such as Athens or Sparta).  They believe that the polis needs leisured citizens to exercise leadership, labourers being too degraded and distracted by their occupations to perform this role.   The discourses of these philosophers are largely directed to a leisured class of men who ‘rule and are ruled in turn’ (Pol. 1252a16-17).[2]  

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