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Goethe in Rome

Leisure with Dignity 2022 Course Summary

"Leisure is the primordial ground of all." - Aristotle

"Leisure is not the cessation of work, but work of another kind, work restored to its human meaning, as a celebration and a festival."

- Roger Scruton

There is much talk these days about philosophy as a way of life. Yet, very rarely will we find any mention of leisure. It is important to understand that leisure is not the "outcome" of but indeed the very basis of philosophy as a way of life. As Josef Pieper argues in his seminal essay on Leisure, philosophical theory, as pure as it may be, can only sustain itself together with practice, the cultus, and both are grounded in leisure.

You can enrol and learn about the basis of our civilisation here.


Leisure is the mood of philosophy, its fundamental attunement. Without leisure as its basis philosophy cannot flourish. To live philosophically means to be in and with leisure, grounded in what the Greeks called scholé. We will try to translate the concept of scholé during the course so that scholé speaks to us again in an original sense. It is from the Greek scholé that we inherit the English word school.

In this course you will learn why leisure (and idleness) are at the heart of the meaning of existence and why leisure is the basis for a philosophical life - and for Occidental culture. You will learn how to live philosophically, how to be idle with dignity, and how to appreciate again the art of living. The course is intended for all of you who are searchers for meaning and wish to stewards of sense in our age. For true leisure is the basis of civilisation, is what sustains us, breaths in us.


The course addresses the question of the dignified idle life. In an epoch of total work where work defines our identity many look for an escape. There are in the history of ideas dozens of examples of the dignified idle life and the importance of leisure for civilisation. The overall argument is that stillness and idleness are at the heart of it all.


We must assume them as a stance if we are to find meaning in our lives. In this course we will consider the Ancient thinkers Cicero, Plato and Aristotle.   

In this course we will consider the Ancient thinkers Cicero, Plato and Aristotle. Thinkers from the modern period devoted to this question include Nietzsche, Heidegger, Wilhelm von Humboldt, Bertrand Russell and Josef Pieper. 

Readings for this course are short which gives you enough time to ponder and meditate upon our time and how you could become more leisurely and also free in your endeavours. The course offers video lectures and notes on all the thinkers we discuss.

Student Testimonials

"It was an inspiring seminar. It was like different views of the original concept are woven together, as Terry Eagleton put in one of his books about a good life, it should be a jazz band playing a common melody with individual musicians expressing their individuality through solos. It was an evocative experience." - Baris Ari


"I'm really enjoying the Idleness with Dignity course. It's really good to engage with the original sources and to hang out and discuss them with everyone. It's a really stimulating but at the same time relaxing way to spend my Saturday evening. Like a pub with great conversation. I thought I might attend a few of the seminars here and there, but I can't resist, I'm hooked." - Dr. James Simpkin 

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