Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Philosophy without leisure

  1. Jul 7, 2003 #1
    Is leisure time a prerequisite for the study of philosophy (e. g., the Ancient Greeks)? Can't one contemplate existence while concerned for self-survival?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 7, 2003 #2
    I suppose it's possible, but history has shown it not to be the norm. Besides, even if you did contemplate it a lot, you'd never have time to write it down or pass it on much because you'd be too busy building, harvesting, hunting, and other such things.

    I think this is one reason why religion has traditionally been authoritative rather than deliberative in nature. People need a philosophy (be it religious or secular) and when you don't have time to sit on the marble steps in debate all day, it suffices to let the preacher pour it in your skull for an hour a week. By the same token, this is probably why authoritative religious models are becomming increasingly unsatisfying to well-fed post-industrial societies, where people have more time to question.

    Of course there are other factors. For example, another reason why religion has been authoritative is because of the power-base of the churches and their struggle to maintain it. And another reason why authoritative religions are less satisfaying in the modern world are because of multicultural influence due to mass communication and travel. But I do think your point about free time plays a large role as well.
  4. Jul 7, 2003 #3
    Remember the Sabbath? Yes, this is the day set aside which gives us time to reflect.
  5. Jul 7, 2003 #4


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member
    Dearly Missed

    Well Socrates had a day job, but he's just about the last one who did.
  6. Jul 7, 2003 #5


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    loren, i would think self survival would invoke philosophical thought...at least it does for me...
  7. Jul 7, 2003 #6

    Loren, time to reflect philosophically does not require that we be free as a bird... i mean, define leisure time i guess. If one really thinks about human reality for even an hour a day i would label one a philosopher. That is, considering the mindnumbedness of most of our contemporaries and the paucity of intillectual endeavour so aparent in modern popular society.
  8. Jul 8, 2003 #7
    Sublimated survival or externalized distraction?

    Which branches of philosophy would then be best adapted toward leisure, and which toward survival? I would say our survival instincts have mostly been sublimated to intellectual abstraction, whereas our leisure is primarily externalized distraction from such concerns.
  9. Jul 8, 2003 #8
    The Sabbath was a part of the Law of the Israelites. The Israelites were not primitive h-and-g people, but had a reasonably sophisticated civilization, for the time they lived in. I think Loren is talking about the times when man was hunted as any other "beast", and needed to focus on survival at all times (in which case it would seem rather impossible to find time to reflect on the pursuit of wisdom).

    BTW, Loren, please tell me if I'm wrong about my interpretation of your question.
  10. Jul 8, 2003 #9
    Actually my reply was more in response to Tiberius who brought up the notion of religion.
  11. Jul 8, 2003 #10
    I know, but Tiberius was responding to Loren's question, and thus was discussing the actual nature (in primitive man) of religion, as opposed to the religious customs of a civilized society. Besides, I wasn't just fretting about some small mistake, I was making a point: There couldn't be any alotted time for reflection in "barbaric" situations. And yet this appears to be necessary (as you mentioned, the Sabbath was set aside for it), and thus deep philosophical reflection would be rather impossible for primitive man.
  12. Jul 8, 2003 #11
    The thread is titled "Philosophy without leisure" and there's nothing about his question that suggests he's talking about primitive man (directly that is). The question could be just as valid today as it was 10,000 years ago. In fact people are so busy nowadays, trying to keep up with the rat race -- in "survival mode" if you will -- that they have little time to take out for themselves.

    Aside from that though, you make a good point. :wink:
  13. Jul 8, 2003 #12
    Mentat et al, I was reminded of ancient civilizations in general, their agriculture and division of labor which provided time for intellectualization. Written language, invention, and mathematics are a few of the more concrete benefits then which laid the groundwork for the outgrowth of philosophy from religion. Ancient Greece is the prototypical example for the confluence of ideas that led to such "leisure studies."
  14. Jul 8, 2003 #13
    I was picturing in my response the lives of most individuals, all the way up to the 20th century. Even once there were fairly intricate civilizations, the average person still had to work morning to night and had very little leisure time. It's not until you get post-industrial hi-tec and well-to-do civilizations that you start seeing the average individual with a good deal of free time.

    And, by the way, the sabbath was exactly what I was referring to when I said...

    My comments point to the difference between doing your own "philosophizing" and having an appointed philosopher for the community as a division of labor thing, who's words you just accept without question (and I'm counting theology as a subset of philosophy here). Of all things, I wouldn't say traditional sabbath church-going was "reflection" - more, "absorbtion".
  15. Jul 8, 2003 #14


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Greetings !

    I'd say that to philosophize one needs at least some free time.
    However, only one who has considrable experience preferably
    including some forms of survival, struggle or conflict
    experience will be able to see the whole picture with sufficient
    clarity to, in turn, see the simplicity that is at is behind it
    and at its basis, and thus really philosophize and think, in general.

    Live long and prosper.
  16. Jul 8, 2003 #15
    The african bush men spend 20 to 30 hours a week hunting and providing for their family while we spend 40 hours at least on the job and then have to work when we get home to feed ourselves and get the kids ready for bed and mow the lawn and wash the car and fix the door and etc etc etc. What leisure time? What is leisure time?
    When we get old and the kids leave and the kid nextdoor mows the lawn for 10 bucks maybe then we can become philosophers and ask the important questions like were the hell is that damn remote.
  17. Jul 9, 2003 #16
    Re: Sublimated survival or externalized distraction?

    Well, 'the art of war' is pretty good with survival in mind. For leisure i like theoretical physics myself. Not that its "adapted tword leisure". I think one would need quite a bit of leisure time to attempt the philosophies of Crowley or Regardie though, since they are so ritually based. A cant think of any philosophy that specifically adapted tword leisure besides Satanism. But, i suppose satanism could be for either survival or leisure. Hmmm, good question.
  18. Jul 9, 2003 #17


    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Gold Member

    then again, i drive about 800 miles a week, and that invokes A LOT of philosophical thought...i have come to enjoy going on my long drives (although it IS for work ) because it gives me a lot of time for thinking...
  19. Jul 10, 2003 #18


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Wow ! That's great !
    I could never drive and seriously think at the same time.
    Then again, I hate driving.

    Live long and prosper.
  20. Jul 10, 2003 #19
    That's understandable, but it's like you said, you only spend an hour or so in church, but still have the rest of the day to reflect. And then again a lot of "damage" can incur within an hour I suppose? ... It might require the rest of the day to recover. :wink:
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook

Have something to add?

Similar Discussions: Philosophy without leisure
  1. Leisure Books to Read (Replies: 1)

  2. Philosophy Discussion (Replies: 1)

  3. What is philosophy? (Replies: 4)