Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (Hardback)
  • Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (Hardback)
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Idleness: A Philosophical Essay (Hardback)

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£20.00
Hardback 216 Pages / Published: 08/05/2018
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The first book to challenge modern philosophy's case against idleness, revealing why the idle state is one of true freedom

For millennia, idleness and laziness have been regarded as vices. We're all expected to work to survive and get ahead, and devoting energy to anything but labor and self-improvement can seem like a luxury or a moral failure. Far from questioning this conventional wisdom, modern philosophers have worked hard to develop new reasons to denigrate idleness. In Idleness, the first book to challenge modern philosophy's portrayal of inactivity, Brian O'Connor argues that the case against an indifference to work and effort is flawed--and that idle aimlessness may instead allow for the highest form of freedom.

Idleness explores how some of the most influential modern philosophers drew a direct connection between making the most of our humanity and avoiding laziness. Idleness was dismissed as contrary to the need people have to become autonomous and make whole, integrated beings of themselves (Kant); to be useful (Kant and Hegel); to accept communal norms (Hegel); to contribute to the social good by working (Marx); and to avoid boredom (Schopenhauer and de Beauvoir).

O'Connor throws doubt on all these arguments, presenting a sympathetic vision of the inactive and unserious that draws on more productive ideas about idleness, from ancient Greece through Robert Burton's Anatomy of Melancholy, Schiller and Marcuse's thoughts about the importance of play, and recent critiques of the cult of work. A thought-provoking reconsideration of productivity for the twenty-first century, Idleness shows that, from now on, no theory of what it means to have a free mind can exclude idleness from the conversation.

Publisher: Princeton University Press
ISBN: 9780691167527
Number of pages: 216
Dimensions: 203 x 127 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
"Idleness is engagingly written, stimulating, and illuminating. Brian O'Connor handles his material deftly, taking the reader to the heart of the issues."--Michael Rosen, author of Dignity: Its History and Meaning
"This valuable book tackles an issue both timeless and urgent today: to what extent is an idle life a good life?"--Mark Kingwell, University of Toronto
"[A]n alternative and altogether refreshing take on our favourite deadly sin."---Sarah Murdoch, Toronto Star
"Cogent and accessible, Idleness is especially good at identifying inconsistencies in the 'worthiness myth' (the obligation to become worthy on one's humanity through self-realization and industry) advanced by influential Western philosophers."---Glenn C. Altschuler, Tulsa World

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