How do hedonism and epicureanism contrast

The role of idleness in a theory of the good life: Tom Hodgkinson's "How to be Idle"

Table of Contents

1 Introduction

2. Definition of terms

3. Idleness in philosophy, social economy and literature
3.1 Philosophy - Epicurus, pure idea of ​​leisure
3.2 Leisure in the social economy - Karl Marx's abolition of work
3.3 Literature - Oscar Wilde

4. Idleness as a way to a free and comfortable life?
4.1 Basic ideas of Tom Hodgkinson
4.1.1 Idleness Ethics
4.1.2 Instructions for idleness
4.1.3 Aesthetics of idleness
4.2 Criticism of Tom Hodgkinson's approach

5. Idleness in a theory of the good life

6. Final part


1 Introduction

The subject area Idleness[1] encompasses a diverse spectrum of very different facets in philosophy as well as in the adjacent areas since antiquity up to the present, which would go beyond the scope of this work. For this reason, I limit the present work to selectively highlighting a few facets and focusing on the position of Tom Hodgkinson critically.

Hodgkinson is a British journalist and literary scholar born in 1968. He lives and works in England and is very popular there. His four published books are about leisure and freedom. The first book is How to be Idle[2], crucial[3], and the other books develop his theory of leisure in different directions: his second book is about an "anarchist attitude to the daily obstacles that come between us and our dreams"[4], the third and fourth - about the application of his theory of idleness to parenthood and marriage, respectively. His academy, The Idler Academy of Philosophy, Husbandry and Merriment, which deals theoretically and practically with idleness, offers seminars on classical music, calligraphy and analysis of literary classics, courses in ukulele play, lessons in English grammar and Vedic mathematics. All of these activities are designed in such a way that they have no practical purpose, but only serve to enjoy the hours. Hodgkinson also publishes the magazine annually The Idler out where he runs a campaign against modern work ethic and promotes the freedom, autonomy and responsibility of an individual.[5]

His book How to be idle, whose German title The guide to idleness[6] is not a scientific treatise. Rather, it is a historically and literarily well-founded guide to leisure. Hodgkinson himself describes his work with these words: " Canon of idleness [...] - selected from philosophy, literature and history of the last three thousand years - to provide [...] idlers with the ammunition they need in the fight against work.[7] This "canon of idleness" is of philosophical interest. In his work, Hodgkinson presents leisure as a way to a free and pleasant life, and thus ties in with the tradition of answers to the question of the good life.

Idleness doesn't actually have a good reputation at the moment. On the contrary, an attempt is often made to dedicate every moment to a purpose, to act. It tends to be bad not to do anything useful, to "waste" the time. Even the rest hours are not only planned in, but attempts are often made to make “the best” of the free time use. Otherwise you have the feeling that the hours have been spent in vain. In this case, feelings of guilt are felt. You feel the pressure from society to have to do something, because doing nothing would be wrong. The saying “Idleness is the beginning of all vice” illustrates this attitude to leisure very well and is generally held to be true without being questioned.[8]

The perception of “idleness” as something negative has a historical and political origin, which Tom Hodgkinson investigates and which he then denounces as out of date and irrelevant. In his international bestseller How to be idle he also approaches leisure in terms of cultural and philosophical history.

Hodgkinson argues that idleness, idleness, idleness, idleness and even laziness do not necessarily have to be an evil in and of themselves; on the contrary, they are good. He believes that humans not only have the moral right not to do anything when and for as long as they want, but also because that is an important part of life and therefore one of the prerequisites for happiness. Leisure is personal and must not be forcibly interrupted. Not even to “have to” earn money. If someone needs time to sink into their own thoughts, then they should be able to take it. No task imaginable can outweigh the value of the process of looking and reflecting. As a result of this belief, Hodgkinson also heavily criticizes mass consumption. In order to finance it, people have to pay with the precious hours of leisure that then have to be given to earning money.

In order to get to the ethical core of his work, one must familiarize oneself with the twenty-four forms of leisure he proposes through which he presents his concept. A part of his basic theory can be seen in almost every one of them. All forms of idleness that he offers serve the possibility to sink into thoughts, to look and to reflect, to be, instead of act. In addition, Hodgkinson advocates and celebrates indulgent, extravagant hedonism. If Hodgkinson's hedonism were not extravagant, one could call him the new representative of Epicurus, because just like Epicurus, Hodgkinson rejects work-oriented everyday life and solitary striving. Similar to Epicurus, happiness for him lies in simple, physical and psychological satisfaction, peace and freedom. Also in his rejection of mass consumption as deadly for the inner freedom of the human being, the similarity to Epicurus' happiness theory becomes clear.

Accordingly, I'll start with the terms Idleness and leisure clarify, then discuss the role of idleness in philosophy, social economy and literature using examples from Epicurus, Marx and Wilde, in order to then show Tom Hodgkinson's concept of idleness as a way to a free and comfortable life on the one hand, and the meaning on the other of idleness to elicit a theory of the good life. In the final part I critically evaluate Tom Hodgkinson's position and the criticism of this concept and try to address the problem area Idleness to develop an independent overall assessment.

2. Definition of terms

The title of the original text by Tom Hodgkinson, which we want to subject to a philosophical criticism, is How to be idle. So it is idlenessthat it will be. The translator of the text[9] took care of the translation of the title for the Instructions for idleness decided. According to the sense it would have taken place Idleness also leisure, idleness, inertia or Do nothing could be. Hodgkinson himself uses the terms like in his treatise lazyness, leisure, doing nothing and others with idleness synonym. Since all of them are concerned with making time unsuitable, I propose the word as an umbrella term for them and as the core term of Hodgkinson's theory leisure before that with Idleness is used synonymously.

Other than the word leisure, is the word Idleness often for some type of negatively assessed inaction. In the phrase “X has Idleness "Dominates the meaning of" (useless, harmful) Wasting time “That has X. In this investigation, I will remove the negative coloring from the word and use it neutrally, which is why I use it synonymously with leisure. It would be inappropriate for Hodgkinson's intention to use the term idleness to be understood negatively. If I had the floor to explain Hodgkinson's theory Idleness use, I mean it synonymously with leisure, i.e. neutral.

It is already apparent at the outset that Tom Hodgkinson himself does not develop a clear definition of the main term in his treatise. Nor is his ambition to conduct a systematic philosophical investigation, but to "celebrate the laziness and attack the Western work ethic that still enslaves, demoralizes and depresses so many of us."[10] He's writing an essay. His only attempt to define the main term is a quote from Robert Louis Stevensonwhose definition probably reflects Hodgkinson's own view of the paradox of "productive" idleness: " Idleness ... does not consist in doing nothing, but in doing a great deal that is ignored in the dogmatic formulas of the ruling class “.[11] This definition does not appear to me to be incorrect, but it is not precise enough for my project. Therefore I would like to try to show here that there are different definitions for the term in order to then work out a synthesis from these, which I can then use as the term for this work.

In a linguistic dictionary like that Dictionary of contemporary German from 1975 the two meanings are clearly separated by the adjective "idle". The first meaning is neutral, it means "idle, idle", but the second is pejorative: "superfluous, useless, pointless"[12].

The second example of a definition of idleness comes from the Dictionary of Basic Philosophical Terms von Kirchner and Michaelis from 1911 and contains the information that at that time idleness could be punished:

Idleness means enjoying the peace and quiet without the need for relaxation and without previous work. The idleness usually arises from indolence, sometimes from lust for pleasure, which is directed towards social pleasures, travel, aesthetic or literary nibbling, etc. Busy idleness is irregular and therefore mostly useless busyness. According to the penal code, idleness is equivalent to work reluctance and may be punishable under certain circumstances.[13]

This definition comes from a time when the dominant German culture was shaped by loyalty to the state and militarism, among other things, and is therefore of course no longer entirely in keeping with the times. Nevertheless it is interesting that apparently harmless things like “social pleasures, traveling, aesthetic or literary nibbling” were previously referred to as “irregular and mostly useless busyness” and were even punished.

In contrast to this, I would like to quote the article on “leisure” from a more recent source, the Historical Dictionary of Philosophy by Joachim Ritter from 1984. According to the author, N. Martin, leisure means σχολή [skʰoˈlɛː] in Greek, “otium” in Latin “, In English“ leisure ”, in French“ loisir ”, and is defined as

the freedom from state affairs and economic activities, which in antiquity were defined as non-leisure, [negotium], and in this sense implies the ordering of life primarily to the realm of calm contemplation. [It] means celebrating festivals, having friends, then employment during this time (lectures), finally the place of this time (school). [Leisure, in Old High German "muoza", in Middle High German "muoze"] means free time, possibility, opportunity for something; in this sense the word is etymologically close to “must”, [Middle High German “müezen”, old Germanic “môtan”].[14]

Martin also offers a historical cross-section of the concept of must in philosophy from Plato to Kant, Marx and Hegel to Schopenhauer, Nietzsche and Pieper. It makes sense to me to briefly reproduce this cross-section here in order to work out an overview of the concept of must in philosophy.

For Plato it is only leisure that makes philosophy possible, because the spirit can only develop when it is free from business and everything physical. The philosophers do not do any work, they are freed from it and practice contemplation and immersion. The polis provides them with everything they need, so they can be idle and happy.[15]

Aristotle he believes that purposeful action and happiness are mutually exclusive. One is only idle in order to have leisure, because only leisure alone enables happiness. In leisure man transcends himself and achieves something superhuman and divine. For this reason, the ruler must create the conditions so that man has enough opportunities for contemplative contemplation, otherwise he is a tyrant. Education must also take place at leisure, otherwise it becomes enslavement. Aristotle also rejects the arts and crafts that are detrimental to health. So that leisure does not turn into recklessness, attention must be paid to justice, moderation and a love of wisdom.[16]

Virgil considers leisure to be a gift from gods and Seneca sees it, when practiced without art and science, as an inner death.[17]

If in antiquity the contemplative approach to life was widespread, and in the Middle Ages the polarity between the liberal arts and practical artsAs is the case with handicraft, in modern times the previously predominant importance of leisure in relation to work is slowly receding into the background, even when it comes to the attitude towards it as a condition for philosophy. Science is moving out of the field of liberal arts in the field of practical.[18]

Kant insists on the modern concept of work and also applies it to philosophy. With that he turns the main thesis of Aristotleabout the fact that philosophy presupposes leisure in order to.[19]

It is similar with Hegel the work - the way to God. Nevertheless he sees the leisure how Plato and Aristotle, as the prerequisite for philosophy, and philosophy as " Sunday of life[20]. With him, therefore, leisure gets its justification if philosophy is practiced at the same time.

Based on Hegel, represents Marx He also endeavors to make the traditional concept of leisure for the privileged into a concept of leisure that is valid for all and also to redefine the relationship between work and free time. As a result, for him the leisure of the privileged does not conflict with the work of the people. The expected increasing automation of production in the classless society according to Marx would enable everyone to do the work in which the individual can realize himself and to develop anew in the free time gained, including leisure time. Thus Marx redefines the concepts of leisure and work in their relationship to one another.[21] Since the point of view of Marx Particularly interested in the sense of this work, I present it in more detail in Chapter 3.2. It appears because of its emphasis on the importance of freedom, equality and creative activity with theory Hodgkinsons show similar traits.

Schopenhauer and Nietzsche advocate leisure in the modern age. However, they both find that it can only be reserved for a genius. You both criticize the working ideology of the modern age and fall back on the must-have concept of antiquity. Only this could prevent modern people from feeling guilty about leisure and from leading a life as a workhorse, for which leisure only serves to relax after and before work.[22]

After the first industrial revolution, says Martin, the concept of work came up, which is also used by the liberal arts subjugated, namely "leisure and recreation as work". The second industrial revolution expanded the available “free time”, so that since then more has been said about “leisure” than about leisure.[23]

In summary, Martin brings out the aspects of the concept of must, namely: first, his " Polarity to purpose-oriented and goal-oriented action[24] ; second, the " Provision of a space within which contemplation can unfold, in that the ego detaches itself from the isolation of individual activities and from the service of the immediate purpose and gathers in calm serenity in the middle of the meaning of the person[25] ; third, the ability to have leisure time, which is expressed socially " in a spiritual hierarchy […] that grows out of the difference in the degree of inner freedom[26].[27]

In addition, it differs at Martin the leisure from Idleness, namely he says that the leisure between " bustling activity, agitation[28] and the Idleness stand Idleness stand for doing nothing, boredom and "empty" time.[29] In the leisure on the other hand we would have the time, but this “free time” would not be leisure. It would depend on what activity the leisure time is filled with,[30] otherwise leisure turns into idleness. But I think that in the sense of Tom Hodgkinson's theory, which will be discussed further, doing nothing, boredom and the so-called “empty” time are part of leisure, because they have the same meaning as those with philosophical studies and contemplation full leisure, namely the vision as receiving reception, even if it then happens unconsciously.

Joseph Pieper is another proponent and proponent of leisure, and he advocates it as a cultural premise. In his book Leisure and cult he reminds that Aristotle at the beginning of his metaphysics the leisure as " one of the foundations of occidental culture[31] designated. In addition, he quotes the Aristotelian sentence " We are not idle in order to have leisure[32]to emphasize how much our understanding of the leisure from the ancient and medieval differences: " so much [...] that we no longer immediately understand what the ancients meant when they say: we work for the sake of leisure[33]. Direct access to the original concept of leisure is after Beeper not available anymore. He also briefly deals with the origin of the word: " Leisure means [...] in Latin schola , German school . So the name with which we designate the places of education, and even those of training, means leisure. School does not mean school, but rather: leisure.[34][35] It is probably due to the fact that education must take place at leisure.

Alternatively, the definition of leisure seems to me to be Ulrich Schnabel to hit an important point:

[These are] those hours in which we have the feeling that we are in control of our own time, in which we are not chasing after money, career or success, but in which we come to ourselves and our real destiny . Leisure is not limited to relaxed idleness, but can be encountered in many forms - in inspiring conversations as well as in forgotten games, while hiking or making music, even while working - in short: in those moments that carry their value in themselves and that are not subject to modern exploitation logic.[36]

He himself finds Helga Novotny's definition aptly:

Leisure is the intensity of the moment, which can extend to hours or days in order to concentrate on one thing: proper time . [This] can be a lot - an intensive conversation as well as enjoying music or an exciting work project, it can be playful or serious, goal-oriented or searching, but it is always characterized by a quality says Novotny: Leisure is the match between me and what matters in my life .[37]

These two definitions are followed in this work.

3. Idleness in philosophy, social economy and literature

In the following chapter, the presentation of idleness in the areas of philosophy, social economy and literature is shown as a theoretical background, using examples from Epicurus, Karl Marx and Oscar Wilde.

3.1 Philosophy - Epicurus, pure idea of ​​leisure

Epicurus takes the view that the goal of our life is to gain pleasure. From lust - hedone - comes hedonism, which Epicurus takes as a philosophical position.[38] He says nothing makes sense if the end goal of it isn't Lust - Hedone - is. If you don't know better, you might think that in this way Epicurus has a direct connection to idleness, because idleness can be very pleasant in itself, that is Lust would prepare. Epicurus, however, understands something different by that Lust, as an addiction to pleasure. Lust For him, when all the needs of the body and soul are satisfied, it is a calm state. With needs are meant here, which are perceived as unsatisfied pain. The body lacks substance, for example when you are hungry to eat, and that can be perceived as pain. When hunger is satisfied, even if only with bread and water, as Epicurus himself preferred - the pain is also eliminated, and so it arises Lust. Accordingly, it lies Lust here in painlessness. It is similar with the inner restlessness that can arise from fear. When the fears have been overcome, the pain is stilled, hedonic pleasure arises. In order to alleviate the fears of death, of the gods, of pain and of the wrong conception of pleasure, clarification is required, since these fears arise from ignorance. Epicurus sees this enlightenment as the main task of philosophy. This is how philosophy helps to Lust and to bliss.[39]

Epicurus argues that the pursuit of Lust and the Avoiding pain are natural to humans, as to any other living being, so the Lust not be bad, so it is good. In contrast to the usual extravagant hedonism, however, Epicurus represents a concept of pleasure that differs from the pure, egocentric satisfaction of instincts and pleasure. It is true that he rejects turning away from the body - as in the Stoa, for example - and affirms a bodily, present life. Because he does not believe in the immortality of the soul. However, moderate enjoyment is advisable with him. Everything that is too much means just as much pain for Epicurus as everything that is too little. Instead, Epicurus advises a measured life in the here and now.[40]

The Lust According to Epicurus, therefore, does not arise from the satisfaction of desires, but from the liberation from pain. Due to the natural life process, the body suffers a loss of substance, from which the basic needs arise, which are to be equated with pain:

The physical pain caused by deficiency is eliminated by ingesting food. Epicurus calls the state of physical intactness that then occurs "catastematic" pleasure, i. H. Pleasure of the state [...] If this pleasure is felt by the whole body as a kind of total feeling, then the "kinetic" pleasure sensations relate to the sensory organs and are, for example, linked to the intake of food and certain, more or less additional activities, such as the satisfaction of the sex drive , can be interpreted as a mere variation of the lust for state. […] The full measure of the Eudaemonia is only achieved when body and mind become part of this total feeling in complete harmony. That means, even philosophical enlightenment [...] is [...] an indispensable requirement for full realization of existence. "[41]

However, this does not prevent Epicurus from representing his hedonism with the expression that is similar to the popular hedonism: " At least I don't know what to imagine as good if I leave aside the pleasure of taste, the pleasure of love, the pleasure of hearing and also the pleasurable movements at the sight of a beautiful figure[42]. With this accentuation of lust he rehabilitates the body and physicality against the " Body hostility of a dualistic world and human image[43]where it is said that the body is a prison for the soul from which the soul must be freed. As a materialist, he denies the immortality of the soul and sees the meaning of life in “making the most of it here and today”, because life is given to man only once and is finite[44].

Epicurus' ethics is free from ideology and ideology criticism[45]. He is interested in luck. He sees happiness in " cheerful detachment from all unconditional striving[46]. Philosophy should enlighten people so that they lose their fears of death, the gods and pain, and help them out of their emotional suffering. It should free people from doubts and unleashed desires, show them the easier, more pleasant way to their happiness. Epicurus tries to develop a theory of the happy life that could be addressed to anyone, regardless of origin, social class or perception. For him, people are all made up of the same atoms. The soul is in itself independent of wealth, power and honor. Everyone naturally strives for happiness.[47]

To the theory of Lust and pain To summarize Epicursus, every living being is either in a state of pleasure or pain, or in a mixture of both states, but never in a neutral one. These sensations naturally dictate how the living being should behave in order to escape pain and experience and prolong pleasure. All living beings lead their life by this criterion, and there is no reason why it should be otherwise. Lust is the source and at the same time the goal of life.[48]

In addition, we can from the factory of Researcher above Epicurus s theory of happiness infer that, according to Epicurus, happiness does not consist in striving for a goal, but rather the structure of a free game [Has] which as such, because it is pointless, not oriented towards something to be achieved, is always perfect. Only those who free themselves from the constraints of unconditional desire and striving and leave them to the game at an aesthetic distance are allowed to play along in the free game of life.“[49] By this Epicurus means that happiness cannot be subjected to a strict plan, and that life can be happiest when people let themselves drift, that is, indulge in idleness.

The work of Müller we infer that Epicurus advocated the close interplay of philosophical leisure and productive work in the community of friends, where all members contribute something to the livelihood as well as taking the time for philosophical reflections: " So we will all plow, dig and look after the cattle ... And this work will interrupt the ongoing study of nature because it provides what nature needs “.[50] It should be noted that such statements are atypical for Epicurus, since otherwise he only spoke of the division of goods between friends, not of the division of labor.[51] Both, however, correspond to the concept of idle life, where the main time is devoted to study, contemplation, analysis and philosophizing, and work is only done when necessary.

3.2 Leisure in the social economy - Karl Marx's abolition of work

In order to talk about leisure in Marx, one must first deal with his concept of work. According to this concept, work is both the realization and the annihilation of humanity.[52]

The early Marx took over the idea of ​​Hegel, which according to Marx " the objective human being, true because real human being, as a result of his own work t "[53] term. However, he criticized the fact that Hegel only spoke of spiritual work, and objected to the fact that the essence of man is realized in physical and not just spiritual work.[54]

The late Marx developed these considerations in a model of the industrial production process, the Work process, the Consumption and the reproduction under capitalism, according to which society is strictly divided into two classes - of Capitalists and Workers - was divided, and the Workers clearly at a disadvantage compared to the Capitalists were.[55]

A capitalist according to Marx basically does not work, he owns (medium for the capitalist production process), buys and uses (raw materials, tools, Worker the Workers) in the production process for the purpose of producing sellable items.[56]

In contrast, owns a Workers according to Marx nothing but his own Workerwhich he sends to the exclusively for the sake of his own life Capitalists must sell[57].

In the work process, the labor capacity of the “worker” is consumed productively by the “capitalist” (together with raw materials and tools), while the worker lets his “labor” consume. The labor capacity of the worker, although it is sold to the “capitalist”, remains tied to him until the manufacturing process. So it happens that the "worker" has to regenerate his work capacity regularly, in the time when he is not working. Marx calls it Reproduction. To the reproduction To accomplish this, the “worker” primarily consumes food that he has to buy from his wages. This is what Marx calls individual consumption. Marx distinguishes this consumption fundamentally from that productive consumptionwhere the “worker” consumes the raw materials and tools and the process of labor during the production process, and so belongs to the capitalist. At the individual consumption the worker belongs to himself. So it happens that the life of the "worker" is divided into the areas: work and the rest. The first is called unfree Time perceived, the second as Leisure. In this division, Marx saw a significant part of those effected by capitalism alienation.[58]

Because, although during working hours a person does the work that is important for his self-confidence, this happens under the conditions that someone else has determined unfree Conditions. In addition, he was expropriated of the product of his work and on top of that, the time of non-work theoretically belonged to the worker, but could only be used by him for recreation and to work again the next day, which actually did not correspond to his nature[59]: „ So it comes to the result that the human being (the worker) only feels himself to be free in his animal functions, eating, drinking and witnessing, at most housing, jewelry etc. and in his human functions (work, GV) as an animal. The animal becomes the human and the human becomes the animal "[60]

Thus Marx states that work, and with it the worker, become a commodity: " The more the worker works, the richer the foreign objectivity becomes, the emptier it [...] work produces marvels for the rich, but it produces exposure for the worker. It produces beauty but crippling for the worker ... It produces mind but it produces nonsense and cretinism for the worker ”[61]

Since Marx does not believe that workers can undo their alienation through an act of consciousness, he endeavors to develop the concept of a revolution. If private ownership of the means of production is abolished, it only changes social conditions, not the production process. Marx endeavors to turn the conditions of self-alienation into conditions of self-realization. So he creates a concept in which the premise is that in the future the machines will do most of the work that is now required alienation leads, mechanical work. So all people - the classes are abolished - have more free time - "which is both leisure time and time for higher activity"[62] win so that they can use it for self-realization. At the same time, the relationship between work and leisure is being redefined[63]: "The immediate working time itself cannot remain in the abstract contrast to the free time - as it appears from the standpoint of bourgeois economy"[64]

The remaining work is therefore, and because it lacks the professional division of labor, actually no longer real work in the familiar sense, which is why he speaks of the abolition of work. It becomes "travail attractive, self-realization of the individual"[65], similar to artistic creation, free from agony and effort. According to the idea, everyone would freely follow their inclinations.[66]

Marx firmly believes that not only during the work process do people cultivate and realize themselves, it also disciplines them to such an extent that they use their extended free time - including leisure time - so productively that they “transform them into another subject "[67].

In this way, Marx redefines the importance of leisure and work.

3.3 Literature - Oscar Wilde

At Savage it is pure aesthetics, free from ideology. The essay The Critic as Artist contains the most important statements of aesthetic theory Wildwhich among other things contrasts the contemplative life Act defended.

Accordingly, we are never less free, never have more illusions than when we try to find a purpose act. Critical contemplation is guided by a conscious aesthetic perception and is only possible for the chosen ones who have it.[68]

Savage defamed that Act as an ideal and advocates that instead Be as such. To Savage only acts by those who cannot dream and fantasize. On the other hand, those who can have access to it Lookin contrast to the Actunlimited and absolute[69] be. To Savage a civilized person should not ask another what they are doesbut just what they thinksbecause contemplation is " the only decent occupation.[70] Do not set yourself the goal of that Act, but that Be, and not so much that Be, as the Become.[71]

4. Idleness as a way to a free and comfortable life?

In the following chapter I will deal with Tom Hodgkinson's theory of idleness by first dividing it into ethics, manual and aesthetics explain, and then point out the critical points.

4.1 Basic ideas of Tom Hodgkinson

Despite all the promises of modern society to give people free time, freedom and self-determination, most of us are still slaves to a timetable that we have not chosen.[72]

Seeing inactivity as a waste of time is a harmful thought spread by its mindless opponents.[73]

In his book, Hodgkinson attacks modern work ethic, argues for the high ethical value of idleness as at least a sufficient condition for a happy life, gives instructions for the correct exercise of idleness and uses literary and historical models to describe his aesthetic. All these approaches, however, are mixed up with one another and divided into twenty-four chapters depending on the hour of the day and the form of idleness.

In order to make the presentation of Hodgkinson's philosophical concept of leisure more accessible, it is therefore convenient to express his thoughts, which he in How to be idle expresses that it should be systematically subdivided into individual sub-areas. In this work, the sub-chapters become Ethics, guidance and aesthetics. in the first Subchapter tries to work out an ethical core from his treatise. in the second Sub-chapter Hodgkinson's proposals for action are shown in third Sub-chapters deal with the aesthetic points of his theory of the Idleness set out.

4.1.1 Idleness Ethics

Tom Hodgkinson poses Idleness as at least a sufficient, if not necessary, condition for a free, fulfilled, pleasant and happy life. However, his presentation contains barely comprehensible lines of argument.[74] Rather, it is with him the answers to the questions, the parts of which are fragmentarily scattered in his writing. So an attempt is made to summarize and systematize them.

(1) Why is idleness now considered destructive and who is to blame for it?

In order to speak about the ethical foundations of Tom Hodgkinson's theory of idleness, it must first be addressed that the current attitude towards idleness presented in the introduction is presented as a kind of conspiracy theory in which people have been systematically manipulated since the Industrial Revolution, Feeling guilty about idleness, feeling like you have to do something all the time, being busy, working more, or feeling like you have to work more. In his opinion, the initiators of the Industrial Revolution began manipulating the masses: " Cleanliness, order, good housekeeping, punctuality, willingness to make sacrifices, a sense of duty and responsibility: these “virtues” of self-denial were spread through a sophisticated network of moralists, writers and politicians.[75] For them it is about, " convince the masses of the benefits of tiring, disciplined work. “.[76]

Hodgkinson explains that the motives of moralists, economists, priests, and politicians Capitalists[77], who would have come together to advance the Industrial Revolution and its work ethic, were mainly in profit. But also in that Workers[78] keep busy so as to reduce the risk of insurrection that might arise from realizing their exploitation. For this reason it was also important to them to keep the working class as uneducated and as unthinking as possible. The Workers would be encouraged to work so much that they had no time to contemplate.

In this context, Hodgkinson refers to the authors as like Samuel Smiles[79]who made them believe that hard work was a moral duty[80] ; John Wesleywho advised parents to break the will of their children as early as possible so that it would be easier to control them later; Thomas Carlylewho speculatively glorified the work. (For example, he claimed that any moment of inactivity was immoral and that man was created only to work[81] ; Matthew Boulton and Josiah Wedgwoodwho complained at length about the laziness of the workers; John Clayton with his Friendly Advice to the Poorwhere he explained that the poor should go to sleep earlier so that they don't party too much at night so that they can work well the next morning. Hodgkinson presents these ideas as self-evident, in the sense that nobody would take them seriously today and therefore they do not need to be refuted. Nevertheless, he notes that they were taken seriously at the time of their publication, and must also have remained unreflected in the subconscious of the cultural memory. That would be one of the reasons why we still feel guilty today if we do nothing to do.[82]

Hodgkinson also presents religion as a means of control that was also used for the purpose of labor propaganda by preaching in church every Sunday that the people “Were sinful, that all fun was a mistake and that silent tolerance is the way to salvation on this earth[83], and that God sees everything and everyone and, if they are neglectful at work, the fire of hell awaits everyone.[84]

Another leverage which, according to Hodgkinson, was used to impose the new work ethic on workers was to starve them. The priest Andrew Townsend advised to do so, because in his opinion the use of the law would not be practical enough: too laborious, too violent and too loud. Hunger, on the other hand, would naturally make workers work. Low wages have also been actively used to lower the self-esteem of workers who would be forced to work and to work even more.[85]

Today, according to Hodgkinson, the situation is not entirely free from labor propaganda either. According to Hodgkinson, the guidebooks and magazine articles that deal with the topics of active lifestyle and efficient time management are aimed at: " out of us more productive, less drunk and hard-working people[86] and also to provoke additional cash spending on things like gym subscriptions and diaries, things that would make us subject ourselves to unnecessary and pointless constraints. These media are supposedly aimed at making our lives better, but instead, by following even more rules, we lose our freedom and feel guilty for not following the rules. That is exactly the real goal of such media.[87]


[1] The terms Idleness and leisure are used synonymously in the following, see definition in Chapter 2.

[2] Hodgkinson, How to be idle (2005). Note: A bestseller in England, Italy and Germany.

[3] It is for this reason that I use this book primarily to cover his position.

[4]The Idler by Hodgkinson (1993-2012), last accessed on September 22, 2012, own translation.

[5] See ibid.

[6] Hodgkinson, The guide to idleness (2009). This version is mainly used in the following.

[7] Hodgkinson (2009), p. 8.

[8] See Schnabel (2010), pp. 16, 36-56, 99, 104.

[9] Black, Benjamin.

[10] Hodgkinson (2009), p. 8.

[11] Stevenson, Robert L., quoted from Hodgkinson (2009), p. 51.

[12] See Klappenbach and Steinitz (1975), p. 2577.

[13] Kirchner (1911), p. 599.

[14] Martin (1984), p. 257.

[15] See ibid., Pp. 257-258.

[16] See ibid.

[17] See ibid.

[18] See ibid.

[19] See ibid.

[20] Hegel, quoted from Martin in Ritter (1984), p. 258.

[21] Ibid., Pp. 258-259.

[22] See ibid., P. 259.

[23] See ibid.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid.

[27] See ibid.

[28] Ibid.

[29] Ibid.

[30] Ibid, p. 260.

[31] Aristotle, quoted from Pieper (1948), p. 14.

[32] Aristotle, ibid., P. 15.

[33] Pieper (1948), p. 17.

[34] Ibid., P. 14.

[35] See ibid., Pp. 14-17.

[36] Schnabel (2010), p. 21.

[37] Novotny, quoted in Schnabel (2010), p. 22.

[38] Hedonism was the first to mention Eudoxus as a philosophical position. It is believed that Epicurus followed on from his "foundation of hedonism". See Manolidis (1991), p. 534.

[39] See introduction by Gigon in Epicurus (1991): About overcoming fear, Pp. 1-56.

[40] See Müller (1987), p. 10.

[41] Epicurus, quoted from Müller (1987), pp. 9-10.

[42] Epicurus, quoted from Müller (1987), p. 10.

[43] Müller (1987), p. 10.

[44] See Müller (1987), p. 10.

[45] Schmidt (1970), pp. 728-731.

[46] Epicurus, quoted from Schmidt (1970), p. 729.

[47] Forschner (1982), pp. 171-177.

[48] See Forschner (1982), p. 178.

[49] Ibid.

[50] Epicurus, quoted from Müller (1991), pp. 127-129.

[51] See ibid.

[52] Kuhn (1962), p. 324.

[53] Marx, et al., (1956), p. 574.

[54] See Voss (1991), p. 24.

[55] See Kuhn (1962), pp. 322-327.

[56] See ibid.

[57] See ibid.

[58] See ibid.

[59] See Voss (1991), pp. 22-29.

[60] Marx and Engels (1956), Vol. 40, pp. 514f.

[61] Marx and Engels (1956), Vol. 3, p. 85.

[62] Marx, (1972), p. 599.

[63] See Kuhn (1962) pp. 322-324; Voss (1991), pp. 22-29.

[64] Marx (1972), p. 599.

[65] Marx (1972), p. 509.

[66] See Kuhn (1962), p. 322.

[67] Marx (1972), 599.

[68] See Wilde (2007-2012), p. 28.

[69] Wilde, ibid.

[70] Wilde, ibid.

[71] See ibid., Pp. 28-30.

[72] Hodgkinson (2009), p. 15.

[73] Ibid., Pp. 50-51.

[74] More on this in 4.2 Criticism.

[75] Hodgkinson (2009), p. 19.

[76] Ibid, p. 19.

[77] Here and further in the sense of Marx.

[78] Also in the sense of Marx.

[79] For example with books like Self-help (1859), Thrift (1875) and Duty (1880).

[80] See Ibid., Pp. 15-19.

[81] See also Kuhn (1962), pp. 299-301.

[82] See Hodgkinson (2009), pp. 32-40.

[83] Hodgkinson (2009), p. 36.

[84] See ibid.

[85] See Hodgkinson (2009), p. 37.

[86] Ibid., P. 19.

[87] See ibid., Pp. 19-20.

End of the reading sample from 57 pages - top