Leisure in Aristotle’s Political Thought

Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek and Roman Political Thought
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Abstract

The concept of leisure found in Aristotle’s corpus is both elusive and challenging. It eludes categorization into our current understandings of work and play while at the same time challenging those very conceptions. Here, I attempt to come to grips with Aristotelian leisure by (1) demonstrating its centrality in Aristotle’s thought, (2) explaining leisure as primarily a ‘way of being’ rather than merely the absence of occupation or one of several preconditions to the virtues, and (3) exploring what leisure might mean to liberal democracy. As a ‘way of being’, Aristotelian leisure is more than an absence of work, but is a positive comportment that itself requires virtues, material means, and an education.

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