From Wikiquote
(Redirected from Otium)
Jump to: navigation, search
In our bourgeois Western world total labor has vanquished leisure. Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture—and ourselves. ~ Josef Pieper

Leisure, or free time, is time spent away from business, work, and domestic chores. It is also the periods of time before or after necessary activities such as eating, sleeping and, where it is compulsory, education.


  • What, then, shall we do? someone may ask. What else, indeed, than devote ourselves to the care of our souls, keeping all our leisure free from other things.
  • As Western nations became more prosperous, leisure, which had been put off for several centuries in favor of the pursuit of property, the means to leisure, finally began to be of primary concern. But, in the meantime, any notion of the serious life of leisure, as well as men’s taste and capacity to live it, had disappeared.
    • Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind (New York: 1988), p. 77.
  • I think that the sweetest freedom for a man on earth consists in being able to live, if he likes, without having the need to work.
  • Certain ways of life, especially leisureliness and contemplation, are said to be marked by “self-sufficiency” (Aristotle). Here there is a double connotation of not needing much from others to carry on such a life, and of the life itself having the character of finality. Both connotations suggest forms of independence. Not needing much from others means being independent of them. And “finality” implies that the activity of thinking, or, more generally, of being leisurely has intrinsic worth. Thus the leisurely person is independent in the sense that the value of his leisure does not depend on any consequence it may have, for example, the consequence that it restores his energy for the next day’s work.
  • Do not say, "when I have leisure I will study," for you may never have leisure.
  • The superficiality of the American is the result of his hustling. It needs leisure to think things out; it needs leisure to mature. People in a hurry cannot think, cannot grow, nor can they decay. They are preserved in a state of perpetual puerility.
    • Eric Hoffer, The Passionate State of Mind (New York: 1954), #172.
  • With the abolition of otium and of the ego no aloof thinking is left. … Without otium philosophical thought is impossible, cannot be conceived or understood.
    • Max Horkheimer, “The End of Reason,” The Essential Frankfurt School Reader (1982), p. 39.
  • Has it ever been really noted to what extent a genuinely religious life … requires a leisure class, or half-leisure—I mean leisure with a good conscience, from way back, by blood, to which the aristocratic feeling that work disgraces is not altogether alien—the feeling that it makes soul and body common. And that consequently our modern, noisy, time-consuming industriousness, proud of itself, stupidly proud, educates and prepares people, more than anything else does, precisely for “unbelief.”
  • In our bourgeois Western world total labor has vanquished leisure. Unless we regain the art of silence and insight, the ability for non-activity, unless we substitute true leisure for our hectic amusements, we will destroy our culture—and ourselves.
  • Idleness is not just a psychological necessity, requisite to the construction of a complete human being; it constitutes as well a kind of political space, a space as necessary to the workings of an actual democracy as, say, a free press. How does it do this? By allowing us time to figure out who we are, and what we believe; by allowing us time to consider what is unjust, and what we might do about it. By giving the inner life (in whose precincts we are most ourselves) its due. Which is precisely what makes idleness dangerous. All manner of things can grow out of that fallow soil.
    • Mark Slouka, “Quitting the paint factory: On the virtues of idleness,” Harper’s, November 2004.
  • Knowledge is the product of leisure. The members of a very primitive society have no time to amass knowledge; their days are fully occupied with the provision of the bare necessities of life. But as soon as a community begins to accumulate wealth, and so becomes able to support a leisured class (priests, instructors of rich men's children), an opportunity is created for those who desire knowledge to devote their lives to its acquirement. Out of this 'curiosity to know' science is born.
  • There is no wisdom without leisure.
    • Ancient Jewish Wisdom, cited by W. B. Yeats in an address given 3/28/1923.

Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations[edit]

Quotes reported in Hoyt's New Cyclopedia Of Practical Quotations (1922), p. 437.
  • And leave us leisure to be good.
  • No blessed leisure for Love or Hope,
    But only time for Grief.
  • Retired Leisure,
    That in trim gardens takes his pleasure.
  • Leisure is pain; take off our chariot wheels,
    How heavily we drag the load of life!
    Blest leisure is our curse; like that of Cain,
    It makes us wander, wander earth around
    To fly that tyrant, thought.
    • Edward Young, Night Thoughts (1742-1745), Night II, line 125.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia has an article about: