On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing James V. Schall

ISBN: 9781882926633

Published:

Hardcover

189 pages


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On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing  by  James V. Schall

On the Unseriousness of Human Affairs: Teaching, Writing, Playing, Believing, Lecturing, Philosophizing, Singing, Dancing by James V. Schall
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To the ears of ceaselessly busy and ambitious modern Westerners, it will come as a shock, and perhaps as an insult, to be told that human affairs are unserious. But this fundamental truth is exactly what James Schall, following Plato, has to teachMoreTo the ears of ceaselessly busy and ambitious modern Westerners, it will come as a shock, and perhaps as an insult, to be told that human affairs are unserious. But this fundamental truth is exactly what James Schall, following Plato, has to teach us in this wise and witty book.

Schall cites Charlie Brown, Aristotle, and Samuel Johnson with the same sobriety-the sobriety that sees the truth in what is delightful and even amusing. Schall contends that singing, dancing, playing, contemplating, and other useless human activities are not merely forms of escape from more important things-politics, work, social activism, etc.-but an indication of the freedom in and for which men and women were created. 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 necesarry 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 impotance of simply wasting time, losing ourselves in play, and Chestertons 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 radi



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