Refusal of work

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As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him. ~ Gospel of Matthew
A man who works at another’s will, not for his own passion or his own need, but for money or honor, is always a fool. ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
That is the only true time, which a man can properly call his own, that which he has all to himself; the rest, though in some sense he may be said to live it, is other people’s time, not his. ~ Charles Lamb
The poor were wise, who, by the rich oppressed, / Withdrew, and sought a secret place of rest. ~ Juvenal

Refusal of work is behavior in which a person refuses to adapt to regular employment.

Arranged alphabetically by author or source:
A · B · C · D · E · F · G · H · I · J · K · L · M · N · O · P · Q · R · S · T · U · V · W · X · Y · Z · See also · External links

A[edit]

  • Plato said that virtue has no master. If a person does not honor this principle and rejoice in it, but is purchasable for money, he creates many masters for himself.
  • Practical life is not necessarily directed toward other people, as some think; and it is not the case that practical thoughts are only those which result from action for the sake of what ensues. On the contrary, much more practical are those mental activities and reflections which have their goal in themselves and take place for their own sake.
  • οὐ γὰρ δεῖν ἐπιτάττεσθαι τὸν σοφὸν ἀλλ᾽ ἐπιτάττειν, καὶ οὐ τοῦτον ἑτέρῳ πείθεσθαι, ἀλλὰ τούτῳ τὸν ἧττον σοφόν.
    • The wise man must not be ordered but must order, and he must not obey another, but the less wise must obey him.
      • Aristotle, Metaphysics, 982a.15, W. Ross, trans., The Basic Works of Aristotle (2001), p. 691.

B[edit]

  • An intelligent man neither allows himself to be controlled nor attempts to control others; he wishes reason alone to rule, and that always.
  • Whereas some ascetics and Brahmins ... remain addicted to such things as running errands and messages, such as for kings, ministers, nobles, Brahmins, householders and young men who say, "Go here, go there! Take this there, bring that from there," the ascetic Gotama refrains from such errand-running.
  • 'Suppose there were a man, a slave, a labourer, getting up before you and going to bed after you, willingly doing whatever has to be done, well-mannered, pleasant-spoken, working in your presence. And he might think, ... "I ought to do something meritorious. Suppose I were to shave off my hair and beard, don yellow robes, and go forth from the household life into homelessness!" And before long, he does so. And he, having gone forth might dwell, restrained in body, speech and thought, satisfied with the minimum of food and clothing, content, in solitude. And then if people were to announce to you: "Sire, you remember that slave who worked in your presence, and who shaved off his hair and beard and went forth into homelessness?" ... Would you then say: "That man must come back and be a slave and work for me as before?"'

    'No indeed, Lord. For we should pay homage to him, we should rise and invite him and press him to receive from us robes, food, lodging, medicines for sickness and requisites, and make arrangements for his proper protection.'

D[edit]

  • 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.

G[edit]

  • Ein Mensch, der um anderer willen, ohne dass es seine eigene Leidenschaft, sein eigenes Bedürfnis ist, sich um Geld oder Ehre oder sonst etwas abarbeitet, ist immer ein Tor.
    • A man who works at another’s will, not for his own passion or his own need, but for money or honor, is always a fool.

H[edit]

  • 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.

J[edit]

  • Fallen, fallen is Babylon the great!
She has become a dwelling place for demons,
a haunt for every unclean spirit. ...
Come out of her, my people,
lest you take part in her sins,
lest you share in her plagues;
for her sins are heaped high as heaven,
and God has remembered her iniquities.
  • The poor were wise, who, by the rich oppressed,
Withdrew, and sought a secret place of rest.

K[edit]

  • To work for a living certainly cannot be the meaning of life, since it is indeed a contradiction that the continual production of the conditions is supposed to be the answer to the question of the meaning of that which is conditional upon their production.

L[edit]

  • That is the only true time, which a man can properly call his own, that which he has all to himself; the rest, though in some sense he may be said to live it, is other people’s time, not his.
    • Charles Lamb, “The superannuated man,” Last Essays of Elia.

M[edit]

  • As Jesus was walking beside the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon called Peter and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the lake, for they were fishermen. “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.” At once they left their nets and followed him.

N[edit]

  • Looking for work in order to be paid: in civilized countries today almost all men are at one in doing that. For all of them work is a means and not an end in itself. Hence they are not very refined in their choice of work, if only it pays well. But there are, if only rarely, men who would rather perish than work without any pleasure in their work. They are choosy, hard to satisfy, and do not care for ample rewards, if the work itself is not to be the reward of rewards. Artists and contemplative men of all kinds belong to this rare breed, but so do even those men of leisure who spend their lives hunting, traveling, or in love affairs and adventures. All of these desire work and misery only if it is associated with pleasure, and the hardest, most difficult work if necessary. Otherwise their idleness is resolute, even if it spells impoverishment, dishonor, and danger to life and limb. They do not fear boredom as much as work without pleasure.
  • What destroys a man more quickly than to work, think, and feel without inner necessity, without any deep personal desire, without pleasure—as a mere automaton of “duty”?

P[edit]

  • 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.
  • He who advises a sick man, whose manner of life is prejudicial to health, is clearly bound first of all to change his patient’s manner of life, and if the patient is willing to obey him, he may go on to give him other advice. But if he is not willing, I shall consider one who declines to advise such a patient to be a man and a physician, and one who gives in to him to be unmanly and unprofessional. In the same way with regard to a State, whether it be under a single ruler or more than one, if, while the government is being carried on methodically and in a right course, it asks advice about any details of policy, it is the part of a wise man to advise such people. But when men are travelling altogether outside the path of right government and flatly refuse to move in the right path, and start by giving notice to their adviser that he must leave the government alone and make no change in it under penalty of death—if such men should order their counselors to pander to their wishes and desires and to advise them in what way their object may most readily and easily be once for all accomplished, I should consider as unmanly one who accepts the duty of giving such forms of advice, and one who refuses it to be a true man.
  • A man of business may talk of philosophy; a man who has none may practice it.

R[edit]

  • The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
  • Without a considerable amount of leisure a man is cut off from many of the best things. There is no longer any reason why the bulk of the population should suffer this deprivation; only a foolish asceticism, usually vicarious, makes us continue to insist on work in excessive quantities now that the need no longer exists.

S[edit]

  • The first mistake belonging to business is the going into it.
  • Men make it such a point of honour to be fit for business that they forget to examine whether business is fit for a man.
  • It is not a reproach but a compliment to learning, to say, that great scholars are less fit for business; since the truth is, business is so much a lower thing than learning, that a man used to the last cannot easily bring his stomach down to the first.
  • 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
  • You made your rulers mighty, gave them guards,
    So now you groan 'neath slavery's heavy rod.

T[edit]

  • Do not do what you hate, for all things are plain in the sight of heaven.
  • There is nothing, not even crime, more opposed to poetry, to philosophy, ay, to life itself, than this incessant business.

W[edit]

  • It is above all the impersonal and economically rationalized (but for this very reason ethically irrational) character of purely commercial relationships that evokes the suspicion, never clearly expressed but all the more strongly felt, of ethical religions. ... The more a religion is aware of its opposition in principle to economic rationalization as such, the more apt are the religion’s virtuosi to reject the world, especially its economic activities.
  • The wide chasm separating the inevitabilities of economic life from the Christian ideal ... kept the most devout groups and all those with the most consistently developed ethics far from the life of trade.
  • The fact that people with rigorous ethical standards simply could not take up a business career was not altered by the dispensation of indulgences, nor by the extremely lax principles of the Jesuit probabilistic ethics after the Counter Reformation. A business career was only possible for those who were lax in their ethical thinking.
  • The great genius does not let his work be determined by the concrete finite conditions that surround him.
  • We live in the age of the overworked, and the under-educated; the age in which people are so industrious that they become absolutely stupid.
    • Oscar Wilde, Gilbert, in The Critic as Artist, pt. 2, Intentions (1891)

X[edit]

  • Those who take money are bound to carry out the work for which they get a fee, while I, because I refuse to take it, am not obliged to talk with anyone against my will.

Y[edit]

  • Now all the truth is out,
Be secret and take defeat
From any brazen throat,
For how can you compete,
Being honor bred, with one
Who, were it proved he lies,
Were neither shamed in his own
Nor in his neighbors’ eyes?
Bred to a harder thing
Than Triumph, turn away
And like a laughing string
Whereon mad fingers play
Amid a place of stone,
Be secret and exult,
Because of all things known
That is most difficult.
  • W. B. Yeats, “To a Friend whose Work has come to Nothing”

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

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