Listers, SPL supports a renewal of the liberal arts and the classical approach to education. Modern education has been reduced to a system of isolated subjects, dented by political agendas, and orientated toward economic practical training. There is a natural order to knowledge, and education must honor that order and move the student through a sapiential and virtuous order.1
The role of education within a regime should be the formation of character or virtue, and this is especially true of democratic regimes that offer political power to all citizens and citizenship to all peoples. Citizens are asked to vote and sit on juries and participate in a political manner that presupposes a certain level of education.
Within a democracy, there is an intimate link between economy, leisure, wealth, and education. For a direct critique of this interplay and its impact on a democratic society, please consider the SPL list: 7 Concerns About Democracy & Its Modern Existence.
Leisure: The Basis of Culture
One of the most important philosophy titles published in the twentieth century, Josef Pieper’s Leisure, the Basis of Culture is more significant, even more crucial, today than it was when it first appeared more than fifty years ago. This special new edition now also includes his little work The Philosophical Act.
Leisure is an attitude of the mind and a condition of the soul that fosters a capacity to perceive the reality of the world. Pieper shows that the Greeks and medieval Europeans, understood the great value and importance of leisure. He also points out that religion can be born only in leisure a leisure that allows time for the contemplation of the nature of God. Leisure has been, and always will be, the first foundation of any culture.
Pieper maintains that our bourgeois world of total labor has vanquished leisure, and issues a startling warning: 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.
Notable quotes from Pieper’s excellent work:
As God, Who made things, did not rest in the things He made, but rested from them, in Himself […] just so should we learn to rest not in our things or in His things, as if they were the goal, but rather in God Himself, in Whom our happiness exists. This is the reason why man should work for six days in his own works, in order to rest on the seventh day, and be free for the worship of God. But for Christians, such rest is appointed not only temporarily, but for eternity.
St. Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on the Sentences
Leisure as God-given
The sabbath was made for man, not man for the sabbath.
Movement from Opinion to Knowledge
Knowing means that the reality of existing things has been reached.
On Liberal & Servile Arts
Every art is called liberal which is ordered to knowing; those which are ordered to some utility to be attained through action are called servile arts.
A Distinction of Ends
“Liberal arts,” therefore, are ways of human action which have their justification in themselves; “servile arts” are ways of human action that have a purpose outside of themselves.
Climbing Parnassus: The New Apologia for Greek and Latin
The following quotes are taken from the acclaimed work: Climbing Parnassus. The text calls for the rejuvenation of classical education and centers specifically on the sapiential and formative uses of Greek and Latin in classical education. For more of the wisdom of Tracy Lee Simmons’ excellent text, see the list: Climbing Parnassus: 11 Quotes on Restoring Education.
So here culture often refers to high culture. It’s about cultivation and refinement, about what makes one thought or act or expression better than another.
To Acquire or to Lose
Culture is that which climbs high on the scale of human achievement, is not easily apprehensible to all, and requires patient thought and sympathy. We are not born into culture; we acquire it. And we can lose it.
Culture Is Not Self-Sustaining
Ours is a time and a place where many have decided, through ignorance or neglect, that culture, whatever it is, will somehow take care of itself.
- Quote on Education and Virtue is taken from the 7 Concerns of Modern Democracy List [↩]
- Amazon Review of Josef Pieper [↩]