In Praise of Idleness Drawing 8 and “the Contemplative Habit of Mind”

November 2, 2016

Words from today’s pages:

“. . . the contemplative habit of mind can encourage ordinary citizens to tolerate the free expression of different points of view even when these conflict with their own.”
— Howard Woodhouse, from the Introduction, In Praise of Idleness

Wow.  Maybe our current dysfunctional state of name-calling, bullying, and mud-slinging is a symptom of our lack of contemplative time.  Bertrand Russell’s essay on idleness was first published in 1935.  In the introduction to the Routledge Classics edition of In Praise of Idleness, Woodhouse summarizes Russell’s thesis this way:  a contemplative habit of mind fosters social harmony.  When we do not take the time to pause and reflect, we act in ways that undermine tolerance and freedom of expression and respect for diversity.  He says these unreflective actions result in a “risk of immobility, namely, a stick-in-the-mud attitude resulting from a refusal to consider alternative viewpoints or courses of action.”

Russell’s insights seem prescient. We see these locked-in, recalcitrant, defiant attitudes everyday when we read the news.  It’s scary.  Could it be because our lives are simply too busy and filled with distracting and competing and nonstop images?




2 Responses to “In Praise of Idleness Drawing 8 and “the Contemplative Habit of Mind””

  1. Elisa Says:

    i LOVE this one, your writing and the sharing!

  2. shoreacres Says:

    I don’t think it’s simple busy-ness. We are far too prone to allow others to define for us the nature of the good life. As time goes on, I become more and more convinced that Facebook are destructive of truly human life. Virtual reality is a poor substitute for human experience.

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