On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs

On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs

Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing

eBook - 2014
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Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing Echoing philosophers such as Josef Pieper, Schall explains how the modern world has inverted the rational order of human affairs, devaluing the activities of leisure and placing an exaggerated emphasis on utilitarian concerns. Though he does not deny the importance of those necessary and prosaic activities that take up the bulk of our daily lives, Schall puts these pursuits in perspective by asking, what do we do when everything we have to do is done? Defending the importance of simply wasting time, losing ourselves in play, and Chesterton claim that a thing worth doing is worth doing badly, Schall contends that the joy that accompanies leisure, festivity, and conviviality gives us a glimpse of the eternal. Such activities also enable us to get beyond ourselves --indeed call us beyond ourselves --and are therefore essential if we are to rightly order our worldly concerns. For as Schall reminds us, neither man nor his projects are the highest things in the universe, and it is only by understanding this fact that man can attain to his true dignity. Citing Aristotle, Samuel Johnson, Charlie Brown, and New Yorker cartoons with equal sobriety, Schall unfolds a defense of both Being and being, of the radical contingency and therefore goodness of existence itself. On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs is an instructive volume whose countercultural message is of vital importance.
Publisher: [Place of publication not identified] : Intercollegiate Studies Institute, 2014
ISBN: 1497648874 (electronic bk.)
9781497648876 (electronic bk.)
Branch Call Number: eBOOK 320.01 SCH
Characteristics: 1 online resource (205 pages)


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Mar 21, 2018

Fr Schall maintains, with his customary wit, that the supposedly "serious" parts of life - primarily business and politics - are far less important than the leisure that they make possible. We pursue the former because they are useful, but (true) play, (true) education, and (true) prayer are activities we engage in out of love for themselves. It is no surprise that Schall, having spent many decades as a teacher and student, focuses on education, presenting a vision of authentic education rooted in a desire to understand the nature of things. Likewise play is considered as recreation rather than distraction, and the highest form of prayer is identified as contemplation. When the importance of these leisurely pursuits is forgotten, he concludes, they become subordinated to the ends of money and power, and our academies and churches become corrupt.

In keeping with his theme, Schall is at his most playful when he is most subversive, teasing out the implications of what we already know to be true to reveal the emptiness of so much of our conventional thinking and living. The result is equally delightful and devastating.


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