Aristotle On Why Leisure Defines Us More Than Work


January 27, 2023


One of the most profound philosophical writers of all time, Aristotle, provides us with a fascinating insight into how leisure defines us more than work. Aristotle describes how our life is a mixture of work and leisure and how it is essential for our overall well-being to subordinate our working activities to our leisure activities. In addition, he explains why leisure is not merely an empty period but a necessary condition for the soul.

Idleness is a vital capital

The great Greek philosopher Aristotle wrote about the virtues of leisure. He also discussed the higher forms of beauty.

In the modern world, the influence of the ideal of leisure is gaining steam. Cultures of idleness can lead to further entrenchment of injustice. As a result, a good work culture is the way to build a more just society.

Idleness has a variety of attributes, most of which aren’t always laudable. For instance, there are more efficient ways to earn money. It’s also not a goal-oriented activity. What’s the purpose of doing nothing?

The true art of idleness is to let things flow. To be a virtuous idler, one would be willing to let go of one’s vanity and allow God to take the reins.

Acedia is a vitia capitalia

Aristotle was known for his metaphysics of substance. He is often seen as one of the founders of modern philosophy. Among other things, he developed the prescriptive theory of leisure.

In his writings, Aristotle defines two kinds of leisure. One is noble leisure, and the other is the un-leisurely kind. Noble leisure involves activities that are of high value. The most important of these activities is philosophical contemplation.

According to Aristotle, eudaimonia is the most important good of human action. This can be defined as the satisfaction of one’s soul, i.e., true happiness. Moreover, eudaimonia requires the right use of leisure.

Compared to work, leisure only requires a little money or a long time to enjoy. However, it does require the courage to let go. It would help if you pursued activities that cultivate virtue and excellence to get the most out of your leisure.

Eudaimonia is a condition of the soul

Eudaimonia is the Greek word for a state of well-being. Philosopher Aristotle used this term to describe a life free of egoism and self-interest. It is a state of mind that can be cultivated through proper action.

Traditionally, eudaimonia has been linked to virtue, moral ethics, and care for others. But it has also been cast in terms of friendship and love. And since it is subjective, a variety of meanings have been attached.

While the idea of happiness is a common consensus, its definition is still in flux. Some define it as being happy, while others define it as a state of living.

According to the WHO, a person’s health depends on both the quality of their experiences and their functioning. Nevertheless, to achieve a healthy lifestyle, people must be aware of the goals they wish to achieve. They should engage in activities that bring about progress and seek feedback from those around them.

Education is the aim of life

Education is an unstoppable process that seeks to transform the individual into an intelligent free mind. It is also a pursuit that seeks to build a better society.

Society can improve and be true to itself when the individual is developed. A holistic understanding of the complexity of life achieves this. With an integrated perception of reality, new possibilities can be opened.

Education fosters the integration of the mind and the soul, which leads to a more enlightened, intelligent, and compassionate person. It fosters critical thinking and intelligent adaptation to new situations.

In the past, people learned through ‘hands-on experience’ and ‘experiential learning.’ They would learn from an example or shadow a master at work.

Subordination of work to leisure

As an individual, defining leisure is an arduous task. It involves examining many facets, including the definition of the concept, and comparing it with others, ultimately, whether a person can define it and then apply it to their life.

Aristotle defines leisure as “a state of mind and soul” that implies silence and serenity. As Aristotle defines them, these qualities are of a higher order than the world of work.

Although leisure is a term often used to refer to the time we spend away from work, it is more than that. On the other hand, work is an activity accompanied by toil. This is because leisure is not just about being free of work; it also means pausing in the hectic pace of our everyday life.