Bertrand Russell Essay On Idleness

Bertrand Russell Essay On Idleness-11
Indeed, one can get -- in a metaphorical sense -- inebriated by intellectual pursuits (even drunk, perhaps?), and certainly the sudden joy of discovery can be compared to love-making (though usually the sensation of release isn't quite that overwhelming...).

Massimo Pigliucci, a philosopher at the City University of New York.

The blog reflects the Enlightenment figure Marquis de Condorcet's idea of what a public intellectual (yes, we know, that's such a bad word) ought to be: someone who devotes himself to "the tracking down of prejudices in the hiding places where priests, the schools, the government, and all long-established institutions had gathered and protected them." You're welcome.

Some of my favorite quotes from the British philosopher, from the first essay of the book (the one that gives it its title): "I think that there is far too much work done in the world." "The road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work." "[Work] is emphatically not one of the ends of human life." "The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake." "The notion that the desirable activities are those that bring a profit has made everything topsy-turvy." Pretty revolutionary stuff, for being written in 1932, eh?

Bertrand Russell, in his collection of essays entitled "In Praise of Idleness," goes on to discuss the role of "useless" knowledge in our society.

Please notice that the contents of this blog can be reprinted under the standard Creative Commons license.," an intriguing idea (the praise, not the collection of essays) for modern Western society, especially the American one, where idleness -- as Russell remarks -- is frowned upon as a waste of "productive" time.

Among the radical ideas Russell puts forth is that we have the technology that would enable us to work about four hour a day, and employ the rest in relaxation and cultural activities, or in volunteer work.Researchers even have a pet phrase for this kind of downtime-related epiphany.“In creativity research, we refer to the three Bs — for the bathtub, the bed, and the bus — places where ideas have famously and suddenly emerged,” Keith Sawyer, author and professor of education at the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, told Time.In turn, this means that things like day trading and other short-term "investments" are not investments at all (because there is no time for the industry to actually use that capital and deliver a product), they are speculation. We now live in a society in which, for some bizarre reason, it has become normal to accept the idea that people can "make a kill" on the market and become millionaires overnight.Usually, of course, on the skin of thousands of others who either lose their money or their jobs. The solution, of course, is pretty simple: regulate stock trading in a way similar to, say, government bonds: you can't sell before a certain minimum period of time, and if you do you incur a penalty.By this he means knowledge that is valued for its own sake, regardless of any particular practical application (in a way, similar to the way we value art for its own sake, regardless of how much money we may make by selling that Picasso we all have in our attic)."Learning, in the renaissance, was part of the joie de vivre, just as much as drinking or love-making." Interesting comparisons there, no?As Russell put it, “The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake.” The key is to truly let your mind wander. If multiple brainstorming sessions haven’t led you to a breakthrough on your problem, what you might really need is a soak in the tub.Even though the four-hour workday is still a pipe dream, people are starting to realize that building some idleness into the day can have positive effects.“When we take time off from working on a problem, we change what we’re doing and our context, and that can activate different areas of our brain.If the answer wasn’t in the part of the brain we were using, it might be in another.” If you’re trying to work your way through a tough problem, idleness can be a crucial ally.


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