Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Leisure: The Basis of Culture
Chapter II

Imagining myself in the audience of the annual meeting of German Philosophers' Society is the only way I've been able to digest this chunk of the essay. (Still pretending here) I sit near the front of the auditorium in order to hear better the key-note-speaker, Josef Pieper.

Despite his calm demeanor and clear speech, I get the feeling that he intends to wave a red flag.

Pieper starts by describing the current state of affairs within the field of philosophy, mentioning two Ernsts: Niekisch and Junger. Then he goes back to the ancients and medieval in order to explain *how we know* and ties that in with the moderns, specifically Kant. As the essay continues, it is obvious that Pieper is trying to change the paradigm that is driving the architects designing 5-year plans for the rebuilding of Germany after WWII.

With reference to Cardinal Newman and his The Idea of the University, I believe Dr Pieper is defending the type of institutions of higher learning he would like to see characterize the new Germany. He doesnt want the professors (philosophers) to be functionaries. Furthermore, I think there's a good chance that Pieper thought that all of us should be philosophers to some extent. It makes us better workers.

It took several readings, both Dru's and Malsbary's, but I think I could explain ratio, intellectus, and why a third component (spiritual vision) should not be overlooked. If I had to, I could list the elements of intellectual labor. But none of those are on to-do list for lesson or curriculum planning.

In fact, I focused on some of Ruth Bell Graham's advice for preparing my charges. Take a course in dog training (obedience)! Those principles served me better in my homeschooling (parenting). My college career was not diminished by overlooking the classes in developmental psychology, introductory philosophy, or educational methodology.

In contemplating Pieper's ideas, seeking insight and wisdom, I can point to three applications for in my own life.

One, I am a product of a liberal arts education. My parents understood the value of this type of schooling: whoever is educated knows how the world as a whole behaves and made it possible for me to pursue a college degree. Here's a link to a teeny story about how I felt the day I graduated from college.

Hillsdale is one of the few private colleges remaining independent today, preserving the integrity of their professors from government-worker status. Lord willing by 2012, we will have graduated four daughters from there. That's what I call *putting your money where your mouth is*.

Second, within the field of medicine and healthcare rages a huge battle. If I follow Pieper's example of examining the history of philosophy and apply it to my own research of national health insurance, universal care, or government medicine, I find myself in the position of swimming against the current as he was. Doctors should NOT be functionaries.

Again following our convictions, DH and I will be attending the annual meeting of an organization which is fighting the battle against further government intrusion into our private lives. Here's a link to a short article with proper perspective. Dont be fooled by what you hear from politicians.

Third, Pieper was rare in his field, a theologically-grounded philosopher: Catholic-Christian, even presuppositional (I suspect). He prized the meaning of words and decried their misuse. Consider reading another of his fine essays published as Abuse of Language: Abuse of Power. It motivated me to improve my vocabulary and pay more attention to etymology.

For example, be aware that when doctrinaire planners want to implement their vision, there may well be a change in the definition of terms. I'm thinking specifically of the abortion debate where babies are referred to as POCs (products of conception). How about organ transplantation and how the definition of death was redefined in order to accomplish the end. Here's one more controversial yet applicable topic. Examine the arguments of the New Perspectives on Paul or the Federal Visionists. There appear to be new definitions for old words.

This book is a real brain exercise. This second section was long and thought-provoking. There is much to be discussed. Check out the thoughts of others and join me in cheering on our leader, Cindy.

In a *world of total work*, I know that I am not legitimized by my social function. God gave me the gift of knowledge. I know Him. His Son died for me. That makes me valuable. That gives me understanding. That makes me bound to Him.

Time to get on with my craft. :)

Then I was beside Him as a master craftsman;
And I was daily His delight,
Rejoicing always before Him,
Rejoicing in His inhabited world.

Proverbs 8:30


  1. Oh, Dana, I am clapping my hands! (My children are outside getting some fresh air right now...three out of four have had the stomach flu since Friday...and I decided to read some of the book club entries.)

    You help me grasp context, and I always appreciate this because I tend to jump straight into ideas (without understanding?).

    I am going to have to give more thought to the doctor-as-functionary. Teachers already are, for the most part.

    Your recommendation for Abuse of Language: Abuse of Power intrigues me. I was unfamiliar with Pieper before two weeks ago, for the most part. I have noticed the definition changes in other areas. That is a big frustration for my husband when he discusses "evolution"--the definition changes throughout a single conversation. In my own life, I was raised Dispensational and attended a Baptistic college and later seminary. As my husband and I have been studying Reformed theology, especially in the past few months, I ended up begging Mystie the Reformed to help me with defining terms. Truly, these groups speak different languages!

    Hopefully, I'm becoming bilingual. :)

    God bless you in your day, Dana.

  2. ps. I forgot to say that a woman who resembled photos I've seen of you was in front of us in the checkout line at the grocery store last night. It was like seeing you in person (I'm guessing), but with salt-and-pepper hair! Whoever she was, she was a true lady, and my older daughter (age 4) immediately fell in love with her.

  3. Brandy,
    There is a lady at my church, who I always want to call 'Dana' for the same reason.

    Bravo. I am always so enlightened by your re-search. I read the chapter while Emily was getting her hair done this morning and after a few stumbles I really began to love it. Reading your background brought the whole chapter back to me. Excellent.