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In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

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First published in 1984. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.


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First published in 1984. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa company.

30 review for In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    I would seriously love to become more idle. That is, at this moment, my highest aspiration. Right now I sort of just want to shoot myself in the throat because I feel like all I do is go to work, and stay late at work, and then feel terrible at times like this one because I should be catching up on work before I go to bed, but actually I just got back from work, plus I gotta get up soon and go back to work, and in any case I'm starting to feel like quite the dull girl and all this work work work I would seriously love to become more idle. That is, at this moment, my highest aspiration. Right now I sort of just want to shoot myself in the throat because I feel like all I do is go to work, and stay late at work, and then feel terrible at times like this one because I should be catching up on work before I go to bed, but actually I just got back from work, plus I gotta get up soon and go back to work, and in any case I'm starting to feel like quite the dull girl and all this work work work work is really kind of just totally destroying my body and crushing my spirit.... Do you guys remember when I didn't even HAVE a job, and all I did was lie around all day long reading novels and eating bonbons and writing book reports? God, those were the days. I mean, they really were. I honestly used to think that I had something called a "work ethic," and that I actually did enjoy working, provided it was the right sort of job, but since then I've discovered the truth, which is that I'm an essentially lazy person, and if I had my way, I'd have nothing to do with this depraved institution called "earning a living." Anyway, if Bertrand Russell has got some suggestions on how I can create and maintain a life of blissful indolence, I would love to hear them. Of course, the predictable irony here is that there's no way in hell that I will ever find the time to read this book. Yeah. Ugh. Somebody call the wah-mbulance.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    So far, I've only read the title essay, "In Praise of Idleness", but I must say that it rings as true (if not truer!) today than it must have in 1932 during the Great Depression. The value and virtue of "hard work" and the vilification of "idleness" is indeed a dual construct of the upper (leisure) class and the puritanical (right-wing) religious origins of our country. Must keep those working-class lackeys occupied so they don't revolt! Or fall to drinking, gambling, and crime! There is nothing w So far, I've only read the title essay, "In Praise of Idleness", but I must say that it rings as true (if not truer!) today than it must have in 1932 during the Great Depression. The value and virtue of "hard work" and the vilification of "idleness" is indeed a dual construct of the upper (leisure) class and the puritanical (right-wing) religious origins of our country. Must keep those working-class lackeys occupied so they don't revolt! Or fall to drinking, gambling, and crime! There is nothing wrong with "idleness", especially if it is active, involved idleness. A contradiction, you say? Oh no. Russell uses the dual example of "peasant dances" set against urban leisure such as "seeing cinema" and "listening to the radio". Today I would use the examples of declining volunteerism, creative hobbies/crafts, even active sports, set against television and, yes, still, cinema. The problem is not so much in the leisure as in the passiveness and placation of society. This kind of social construct, being fed pablum by the mass media (including the news outlets), told what to think, how to feel, what matters to us, is as sure an oppression as any form of dictatorship or totalitarianism. (At this point, I could devolve into a long rant on the power elite and class structure, but I won't.... it's a little off topic...) What really concerns me in this particular essay, though, is the distribution of work and the distribution of goods (those goods necessary for survival: food, shelter). There are enough resources in this country to go around, except that those resources have been hoarded by those in the highest echelons. For example, there are an estimated 1.5 million homeless people in the US (this is a low estimate in my opinion: homelessness is very difficult to quantify especially as it is in constant flux, and there are questions of who, exactly, should be included in such a count). At any rate, there are currently approximately 750,000 foreclosed homes on the market, owned by banks or investors, sitting empty. This does not include all the "newly" constructed homes that never did sell after real-estate crash. That, in case you can't do the math, is one empty home for every two homeless people. Why not train and/or employ some of these people to do renovation on the many trashed or "scavenged" foreclosed homes in return for reduced occupancy fees? It would solve at least two problems with one blow. But no, those empty homes represent material value to the banks and investors, and they will not share those resources, even when the perceived market value of those resources has fallen by 50% or more! But again, I'm drifting off topic. Read the essay. We should all be able to meet our needs on 4 hours of work per day, and the rest of our time should be a choice, between working harder for "extra" consumer goods, spending time with family and friends, or painting, writing great literature, working on solving the worlds social ills, or all the many other things that one can't do while drudging away for 8 to 10 hours a day in jobs that are frequently pointless in the first place. This is a view of socialism I can live with!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Ladan

    Wise words. Actually, I assume that whatever needed to be known has been long said by giants like Russel, it is time to do sth accordingly. When are we gonna take action?

  4. 5 out of 5

    M Jahangir kz

    Once again a brilliant read, Russel's essays are always lucid, he writes with such clarity and wit that no one can match him. This book consists of essays, and in a sense Russel defends and take the side of the things which are mainly ignored in the clash of politics and in general life. Russel argues in these essays in the favor of things such as the ldle (leisure) class, the useless knowledge and the main themes of these essays consists on Russel praise of idleness , beside this there are other Once again a brilliant read, Russel's essays are always lucid, he writes with such clarity and wit that no one can match him. This book consists of essays, and in a sense Russel defends and take the side of the things which are mainly ignored in the clash of politics and in general life. Russel argues in these essays in the favor of things such as the ldle (leisure) class, the useless knowledge and the main themes of these essays consists on Russel praise of idleness , beside this there are other essays where Russel talk about the evils of Fascism, and communism, and make a case for socialism instead, and discusses things such as Western Civilization, education and discipline, stoicism and discipline and in last essay he talk about what is soul.. In praise of idleness Russel say that the people should be more idle, instead of action they should prefer inaction, the working hours should be maximum 4 hours so as to maximize the leisure time of the worker class, he said that the great thing that has ever been achieved are due to the very reason of leisure class, everything in our Civilization from art to science, to philosophers to inventors to thinkers, writers; we owe to the leisure class, because without them there would have been nothing. "A great deal of harm is being done in the modern world by belief in the virtuousness of work, and that the road to happiness and prosperity lies in an organized diminution of work",. And in other essay of useless knowledge, Russel emphasis that no knowledge is useless, if there is technical knowledge such as of science so there are also other curious knowledge which can make a pleasant thing very pleasant,such as Russel say that if I eat peaches and appricoat without having any knowledge of them, I wouldn't give them that value and importance, but when I have the knowledge that the peaches and appricoat were first cultivated in the china by the han dynasty, from there these came into India, and from Indian to Persia, and Roman empire brought them from Persia to Europe, and then that the word apricot is derived from the same Latin source as the word prococious, and that the A to the apricot was added by the mistake, and this knowledge makes the fruit taste much sweeter.. In the 3rd essay Russel discusses the architecture and social questions, here he enlightens that the current structure of our homes, the roles of the wife, husband and the children, is not well suited and you can't raise a well nourished children in such a home structure in which the husband work, and wife do all the household and kitchens works, he provide in this essay the solution to this problem by emphasing that there should be a boarding school for childrens as in that structure if a child remians at home he can't have a better upbringing.. In other essays Russel discusses the things such as Modern Midas, in which he provide a analogy of that day political authorities with the king of Midas, who gets the unique capability of turning everything he touches into gold, then sooner he realized that he kiss his daughter and she become a metal, similarly his problems heightenes as his food also turn into metal when he tries to eat it, so what he was thinking as his biggest traits was infact his worst nightmare. So Russel aims digs through this analogy to the selfish, money oriented countries of that time. So the scope of the essays is very vast, so I will now sum this up here otherwise it will be a lengthy review.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Sophy H

    I am a massive fan of Bertrand Russell. I find his writing sophisticated, innovatory and for his time (writing in the 20's/30's) highly revolutionary! I love his thoughts on socialism, despite the fact that they're so idealistic. He makes me live in hope for a better world! His take on idleness is fantastic; everyone needs downtime and the ability to be a human "being" not doing. A pleasure of a read and one I'll be dipping back into many times over. I am a massive fan of Bertrand Russell. I find his writing sophisticated, innovatory and for his time (writing in the 20's/30's) highly revolutionary! I love his thoughts on socialism, despite the fact that they're so idealistic. He makes me live in hope for a better world! His take on idleness is fantastic; everyone needs downtime and the ability to be a human "being" not doing. A pleasure of a read and one I'll be dipping back into many times over.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Abhi

    A short essay, forcing the reader to see leisure in a new light of virtue (if expended rightly, and not just for fox-hunting or poacher-punishing), and the sense of duty with suspicion. Have always been astonished by the completeness of Bertrand Russell's thoughts. Leave no room for counterarguments. A short essay, forcing the reader to see leisure in a new light of virtue (if expended rightly, and not just for fox-hunting or poacher-punishing), and the sense of duty with suspicion. Have always been astonished by the completeness of Bertrand Russell's thoughts. Leave no room for counterarguments.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Krishen Mohan

    A enlightened view on the self propagating inefficiency of the current economic paradigm. Reminder to the people that money is a means of resource allocation to ensure that everyone can live as comfortably as possible rather than this mindless pursuit of the impermenant that is prevalent today. Well worth the read. Succinct.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Neil

    A great, plain-English text on several philosophical and social topics; if you're sort of interested in philosophy and you're intimidated by the language used in many texts, Russell is definitely a good place to start, and this collection of essays may be the best entry point. The primary focus of this text is interesting: why do we constantly work more and more hours when we're producing more and more as well? Should we not have reached a balance point of production to consumption? Other interes A great, plain-English text on several philosophical and social topics; if you're sort of interested in philosophy and you're intimidated by the language used in many texts, Russell is definitely a good place to start, and this collection of essays may be the best entry point. The primary focus of this text is interesting: why do we constantly work more and more hours when we're producing more and more as well? Should we not have reached a balance point of production to consumption? Other interesting questions raised are whether knowledge is good for its own sake. In an oddly prescient essay on the political situation in Europe, written in 1932, Russell pretty much nails how the Second World War would turn out. That essay proved to be one of the most interesting to me, as I always appreciate reading opinions/thoughts about political currents/events as they were happening rather than from a historical perspective, even though it is likely more flawed. It's just more interesting (this is much the same reason why I enjoyed watching Casablanca not too long ago). Not all the essays were particularly edifying, but Russell's writing style is so good as to still make them pleasant reads. Definitely worth a look if you're at all interested in the title concept; and who doesn't want to have a bit more idle time in their lives?

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jesse

    In this outstanding collection, Russell reflects upon the economic status of the modern world. Capitalists, in Russell's view, have obstinately refused to share the benefits of science, which could easily reduce the working hours of all people to 4 hours a day (in our day it is most certainly closer to 1 or 2), if only people were given the chance to control their own productivity; on top of that, capitalists have destroyed the aesthetic splendor of cities and towns. No age in history has had ci In this outstanding collection, Russell reflects upon the economic status of the modern world. Capitalists, in Russell's view, have obstinately refused to share the benefits of science, which could easily reduce the working hours of all people to 4 hours a day (in our day it is most certainly closer to 1 or 2), if only people were given the chance to control their own productivity; on top of that, capitalists have destroyed the aesthetic splendor of cities and towns. No age in history has had cities so ugly. Obviously, then, the key text here is the essay, A Case for Socialism. In it, Russell observes that there is no terror that so constantly haunts modern life as the threat of unemployment. Far from human beings being motivated toward great endeavors by the thought of unlimited wealth, most people in the modern world are struggling against the threat of starvation (and this fear naturally results in the panic of overeating so prevalent in America, which is, despite the same restaurants, conspicuously absent in Europe where there is more social welfare). But Russell says, if socialism is to become a desirable reality, it must be the result of persuasion rather than violence, otherwise we shall lapse into Bolshevism, causing the exploitative structures of society to remain intact. There are many other delightful essays here as well, including the problem of allowing educational institutions to seek profits, and one on comets where he quips, "If I were a comet, I would think the age we live in a degenerate breed."

  10. 5 out of 5

    Rajiv

    In Praise of Idleness has become one of those life-changing books for me. I’d heard and read a lot about Bertrand Russell’s genius and intellect, but the book really blew me away. The collection of essays here offer a treasure trove of ideas and makes eerily accurate predictions about society and humanity. There were a number of ideas that will stay with me. For example, Russell, while discussing education, hypothesizes that it is the uneducated that bully and lynch others because the assertion o In Praise of Idleness has become one of those life-changing books for me. I’d heard and read a lot about Bertrand Russell’s genius and intellect, but the book really blew me away. The collection of essays here offer a treasure trove of ideas and makes eerily accurate predictions about society and humanity. There were a number of ideas that will stay with me. For example, Russell, while discussing education, hypothesizes that it is the uneducated that bully and lynch others because the assertion of dominance is a source of self-respect for them. He also notes that education is extremely important for the populace of a nation as it offers them the chance to form intelligent opinions on matters of governance and finance. These are simple, almost basic ideas that are taken to their full potential in Russell’s essays. He also writes about death and offers some words on how to broach the subject with kids. He advises parents to talk about death with their children but not to let them get too absorbed with it because it will reduce their all-round development. He also notes that children should be deterred from taking on a religious point of view regarding death, pointing out that death should not be made less terrible than what it is. His argument is to persuade the importance of the cause to which the person has given his/her life towards rather than the act of death itself. In another essay he writes about designing arguments. He says we should focus our ideas towards like-minded people and not for opponents. Why? It’s due to the fact that the appeal to reason becomes difficult when there’s a large group because we have fewer assumptions to begin from. When the assumptions aren’t found, men begin to rely on intuition which leads to strife in power. Further along, in another essay Russell contends that people use reason to persuade a group that is sympathetic to their cause. The person using that reason believes in it wholly but has trouble demonstrating it to those who question it. He adds that there has to be some universal assumptions for reason to survive; otherwise, it only leads to strife and power play, which we can see in the world around us right now. Having said all this, some of the essays are insignificant. A few offer socially dated ideas—women staying behind to work in the house isn’t acceptable by modern standards, among other things. Despite all this, the essays themselves are straightforward in their language and presentation, discussing philosophical and social topics in a way that even laymen can perceive. There are a lot more interesting concepts and opinions within the book. Many of these have become reality for our current society and some have fallen flat. I strongly suggest picking this book up if you’re looking to expand your view of the world. I had a most excellent time with this.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ahmad Abdul Rahim

    Replete with Russell’s usual wits and his comforting cynicism to the state of affairs in the world, this book is also blessed with unusual dose of optimism while disclosing some of Russell’s closely-held life experiences (I’m trying to find a better word for ‘dogmatic beliefs’ as I clearly like him enough to avoid branding him with such distasteful word). This book is too gracious to be considered as a proper book. It is a mish-mash of his essays written somewhere around 1928-1935 I presume (not Replete with Russell’s usual wits and his comforting cynicism to the state of affairs in the world, this book is also blessed with unusual dose of optimism while disclosing some of Russell’s closely-held life experiences (I’m trying to find a better word for ‘dogmatic beliefs’ as I clearly like him enough to avoid branding him with such distasteful word). This book is too gracious to be considered as a proper book. It is a mish-mash of his essays written somewhere around 1928-1935 I presume (not all of the essays were dated). The essays were not arranged chronologically but according to themes. I think that explains the tonal discrepancies I felt throughout the book. Some chapter makes a cheerful reading, others felt quite sombre. Thank goodness the latter was brief. The book opens with the essay, the title of which is the namesake for the book. I have a lot of anticipation for what Russell is going to say on the topic. Alas, the reader will find out that the author is only using the topic to preach his Socialistic ideals (I never knew he was an ardent proponent of Socialism). To a degree that to be honest, the title itself felt gratuitous. I was hoping Russell speak more on the virtues of idleness so that I can feel good lazying my ass off. Instead, he sidestepped the question by mapping out how to implement an over-arching system which enables people to work for only 4 hours a day (which is the most amount of hour people should spent on working per day according to his judgment). Good idea Russell, but how about you telling me more instead on reasons why I should decide to do that? Isn’t that's what was written on the title? No hard feeling; just felt that I was tricked. Still makes a damn, good reading.

  12. 5 out of 5

    srdjan

    "...Reason, being impersonal, makes universal cooperation possible, unreason, since it represents private passions, makes strife inevitable. It is for this reason that rationality, in the sense of an appeal to a universal and impersonal standard of truth, is of supreme importance to the well-being of the human species..." BR describes the utility of reason in this qoute, and it represents an effort on his part to adapt to a world he regards as off-kilter. Russell would have you understand reason "...Reason, being impersonal, makes universal cooperation possible, unreason, since it represents private passions, makes strife inevitable. It is for this reason that rationality, in the sense of an appeal to a universal and impersonal standard of truth, is of supreme importance to the well-being of the human species..." BR describes the utility of reason in this qoute, and it represents an effort on his part to adapt to a world he regards as off-kilter. Russell would have you understand reason and pursue truth for other reasons - namely that it is enjoyable. But the passage highlights his desire to show its utility in an increasingly pragmatic world. The book contains brilliant insight on economics, architecture, and education, less convincing passages on the merits of socialism and a few enjoayable tirades including ones on light pollution, biological WMDs and London hat makers. After reading the last essay, I was left with a sense that the author was incredibly insightful, inherently opptimistic and utterly dissappointed with the direction of civilization. Certainly he was right to regard the ideas of his day with disgust, and he was amazingly prescient in his assessment of their outcomes. However his proposed solutions were utopian and appeared to be informed too much by frustration. The descriptive Russell is superlative but the normative Russell is merely enteraining. Highly recommended.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Sasa

    One of Russel's brilliant works. Bertrand is basically promoting leisure and idleness, as opposed to how the public is brought up to believe that hard work is a sacred and paramount. Russel rethinks the nature of this traditional conclusion and analyzes it from a different angle. Throughout the book, he promotes the sufficiency of 4 hours of daily work. He proceeds with an exceptional analysis and argues about its benefit to the individual and the society as a whole. Accordingly, he proceeds to One of Russel's brilliant works. Bertrand is basically promoting leisure and idleness, as opposed to how the public is brought up to believe that hard work is a sacred and paramount. Russel rethinks the nature of this traditional conclusion and analyzes it from a different angle. Throughout the book, he promotes the sufficiency of 4 hours of daily work. He proceeds with an exceptional analysis and argues about its benefit to the individual and the society as a whole. Accordingly, he proceeds to speak about communism and socialism.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mina Ajam

    It's difficult to understand topics that you are not interested with! but Bertrand wrote them in neatly that they could be read smoothly making them digestible It's difficult to understand topics that you are not interested with! but Bertrand wrote them in neatly that they could be read smoothly making them digestible

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kris Muir

    What is the value of leisure in our lives? How might we define leisure? In 1932, philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote “In Praise of Idleness,” an intriguing essay about modern-day assumptions of the ethics of work and leisure. I read a book that contained the essay and an introduction to the essay, so I am counting it as a book. Russell’s primary argument is a reduction of work into merely two types: “first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such ma What is the value of leisure in our lives? How might we define leisure? In 1932, philosopher Bertrand Russell wrote “In Praise of Idleness,” an intriguing essay about modern-day assumptions of the ethics of work and leisure. I read a book that contained the essay and an introduction to the essay, so I am counting it as a book. Russell’s primary argument is a reduction of work into merely two types: “first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth’s surface relatively to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so.” Moreover, work can be pernicious because “it denies us leisure, and it diminishes our capacity for interesting thought.” Within Russell’s view we find socialist tendencies (“it is unjust that a man should consume more than he produces”), but the crux here is that we should not take work for granted, and instead we should pursue more “active leisure” in our live. Writing in the early 1930s about the problems of watching too much cinema and football matches, Russell presciently foresees the impact of other “passive and vapid” forms of pleasure such as Netflix and social media: “this results from the fact that their active energies are fully taken up with work; if they had more leisure, they would again enjoy pleasures in which they took an active part.” Russell takes his argument further, fantasizing about an ideal society: In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving, however excellent his pictures may be. Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and the capacity...Medical men will have time to learn about the progress of medicine, teachers will not be exasperatedly struggling to teach by routine methods things which they learnt in their youth, which may, in the interval, have been proved to be untrue. [direct quote] Russell’s notion of “active leisure” reminds me of the barbell strategy put forth by Lebanese-American author Nassim Nicholas Taleb. For me, perhaps the most ideal example of the barbell strategy might be implementing true rest in between periods of intense work (true rest being something that recharges and energizes you like taking a nap, meditating, exercising, or just daydreaming). Planning activity around deliberate work/rest is well-respected in creative fields as well as among elite athletes and performers. What about the rest of us? The pulsing of work/rest that Taleb references contrasts the modern notion of escapism or losing yourself in social media or mindless consuming of [fill in the blank]. Much like Taleb, Russell argues for the pulsing framework since “the modern mind is constantly revving but rarely engaged in gear.” Our inability to be alone, without distraction, not only diminishes our attentional capacity through neural addiction but also traps us into a desire for passive leisure. Instead, we should be pursuing “active leisure” that engages our mind as well as recharges our energy reserves. Taleb himself recommends “pure action” followed by “pure reflection.” Regardless of your quantity of work, it seems that the optimal path is to work intensely and to create periods of contrasting rest and recovery. Possibly the most significant insight from this book is the Russell Method of Creative Discipline, a 4-step process for producing your best work: “Exhaustive research and thought to the point of complete immersion in the subject” “Attaining physical and objective distance from the project, during which further contemplation is undertaken in a state of Active Idleness” "Seeing the work or solution as a whole, and reproducing same” “Sober self-criticism and editing after the fact to ensure the creative and intellectual integrity of the project” Given how prolific Russell was in his professional life--over 70 books authored as well as serving as one of the founders of analytic philosophy--it is worth considering not only his creative framework but also his thoughts on the ethics of work and leisure. I recommend pairing Russell’s essay with Cal Newport’s “Deep Work” and Matthew Crawford’s “Shop Class as Soulcraft” for a deeper understanding of the value of work/leisure. Happy Reading!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Paul Bard

    In homage to Timothy Ferriss' bestselling "Four Hour Work Week", we should name this 1920 screed by Bertrand Russell the "Four Hour Work Day". Because inbetween various reflections on Betrand Russell, with Bertrand Russell talking about how Bertrand Russell sees Bertrand Russell's opinion of Bertrand Russell, the eponymous essay suggests that we halve the work day from 8 to 4 hours per day. "But, why, Bertrand?" Answer: because liberal arts. Bertrand in his preface flakily defines the aim of this In homage to Timothy Ferriss' bestselling "Four Hour Work Week", we should name this 1920 screed by Bertrand Russell the "Four Hour Work Day". Because inbetween various reflections on Betrand Russell, with Bertrand Russell talking about how Bertrand Russell sees Bertrand Russell's opinion of Bertrand Russell, the eponymous essay suggests that we halve the work day from 8 to 4 hours per day. "But, why, Bertrand?" Answer: because liberal arts. Bertrand in his preface flakily defines the aim of this book on subjects from "social questions that get ignored by the clash of politics", to liberal artistry, to children and to women, finally settling on this assay: "The general thesis which binds the essays together is that the world is suffering from intolerance and bigotry, and from the belief that vigorous action is admirable even if misguided." Basically it's Bertrand Russell having a big whiny complain about how the world is, just like he does in his other books, and how everyone would be happy if they would just give him power. Russell is a poor commentator on most real-world issues, but in philosophy and politics he is actually a good teacher, and this book is no exception: his essay "The Ancestry of Fascism" defines the flight from reason and worship of instinct of fascism far better than the fascist dictator Mussolini did. And Russell's defence of socialism, written just before the pogroms of Stalin, the mass death of Mao, and the chaos of the latter 20th century as a consequence of communism, and its continuing infiltration into free society via political correctness and cultural marxism - his defense of socialism, I said, has the same simple inconsequence to reality had by H.G.Well's idiotic books on the same subject. I think Bertrand Russell is an windbag and a fool. In this book, his petulant complaints against reality become idle in their triviality. Bertrand Russell can basically be compared to a pre-internet version of Russell Brand - without the charm.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Zora

    I didn’t mind his writing style, so perhaps the essay is better than 1 star. For me, the hurdle was my fundamental disagreement with his overarching ideas that: 1. There’s far too much work being done in the world, and 2. Immense harm is caused from believing work is virtuous. I struggled to see the benefits in praising idleness. In the context of 1932, when the book was published, his points may have been more relevant, particularly because long workdays were the norm (even for children) and peopl I didn’t mind his writing style, so perhaps the essay is better than 1 star. For me, the hurdle was my fundamental disagreement with his overarching ideas that: 1. There’s far too much work being done in the world, and 2. Immense harm is caused from believing work is virtuous. I struggled to see the benefits in praising idleness. In the context of 1932, when the book was published, his points may have been more relevant, particularly because long workdays were the norm (even for children) and people probably did need more leisure time, as he argues. But this doesn’t seem like a solid argument today, so I struggled to work out how to learn from or apply his philosophy to my life. I own and run two companies. I pretty much work my ass off. I also travel constantly, have a family and I’m finishing a master’s degree. I don’t know many people busier than me, yet I still have leisure time. The essay reveals the challenges of life before labor laws were ratified, so being cognisant of that was a good reminder of how those laws ((US) Fair Labor Standards Act?) have positively affected our quality of life henceforth. I don’t think he made a solid argument to back up his claim that “immense harm is caused from believing work is virtuous”. I just don’t see what’s wrong with work. How is it harmful? Maybe work is not “virtuous”. But maybe it is? I’m pretty sure Bertrand Russell was not a supporter of Communism, but I felt some aspects of this essay vaguely echoed Communist sentiments.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Nathan

    "One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man's economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would b "One of the commonest things to do with savings is to lend them to some government. In view of the fact that the bulk of the public expenditure of most civilized governments consists in payment for past wars or preparation for future wars, the man who lends his money to a government is in the same position as the bad men in Shakespeare who hire murderers. The net result of the man's economical habits is to increase the armed forces of the State to which he lends his savings. Obviously it would be better if he spent the money, even if he spent it in drink or gambling." "Progress--This is a nineteenth-century ideal which has too much Babbit about it for the sophisticated youth. Measurable progress is necessarily in unimportant things, such as the number of motor-cars made, or the number of peanuts consumed. The really important things are not measurable.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Moein Esmaeeli

    This book has some food for thought. " For ages, the rich and their sycophants have written in praise of "honest toil," have praised the simple life, have professed a religion which teaches that the poor are much more likely to go to heaven than the rich, and in general have tried to make manual workers believe that there is some special nobility about altering the position of matter in space, just as men tried to make women believe that they derived some special nobility from their sexual enslav This book has some food for thought. " For ages, the rich and their sycophants have written in praise of "honest toil," have praised the simple life, have professed a religion which teaches that the poor are much more likely to go to heaven than the rich, and in general have tried to make manual workers believe that there is some special nobility about altering the position of matter in space, just as men tried to make women believe that they derived some special nobility from their sexual enslavement. "

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    The first essay won me over !! Well it was the reason why I picked this up. Weird how I've never thought of reading it earlier, since I appreciate "Laziness". Anyway, It took me a long time to finish this collection of essays. I didn't like everything I read but I enjoyed reading most of them. It has been a good read. The first essay won me over !! Well it was the reason why I picked this up. Weird how I've never thought of reading it earlier, since I appreciate "Laziness". Anyway, It took me a long time to finish this collection of essays. I didn't like everything I read but I enjoyed reading most of them. It has been a good read.

  21. 5 out of 5

    ZaRi

    Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid. Work is of two kinds: first, altering the position of matter at or near the earth's surface relative to other such matter; second, telling other people to do so. The first kind is unpleasant and ill paid; the second is pleasant and highly paid.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mihai Leonte

    More relevant than ever with the emerging of "AI" and the automation of so many types of jobs. Civilization is at a crossroads - and the only sane option is reducing the work-hours or establishing universal basic income for everyone. More relevant than ever with the emerging of "AI" and the automation of so many types of jobs. Civilization is at a crossroads - and the only sane option is reducing the work-hours or establishing universal basic income for everyone.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Ietrio

    Simply beautiful. And strangely more libertarian than Rothbard. And more anti-status-quo than Bakunin. But unlike the two demi-gods of their respective gangs, short and not dated.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Ruby Bisson

    A beautiful and hilarious introduction to the writings of philosopher Bertrand Russell.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ahmed Mahid

    I have decided that this essay changed my life.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan Norton

    First published in 1935, this collection of general essays displays Russell at his most endearing and also infuriating. There is a discussion of the need for improved housing schemes, which shows that old Bertie was alive to the issues that would later surface in "psychogeography" and "urbanism", but also that he had the patrician desire to organise the lower orders for their own good. His essay on socialism reveals more of this spirit, where he frankly admits he gets greater motivation from a s First published in 1935, this collection of general essays displays Russell at his most endearing and also infuriating. There is a discussion of the need for improved housing schemes, which shows that old Bertie was alive to the issues that would later surface in "psychogeography" and "urbanism", but also that he had the patrician desire to organise the lower orders for their own good. His essay on socialism reveals more of this spirit, where he frankly admits he gets greater motivation from a sense of order than from any emotional impulse toward proletarian justice. To be fair, there were quite a few examples of that in the comfortable 30s left, as noted by Orwell in "The Road To Wigan Pier". The title essay shows an early awareness of the issues nowadays discussed in relation to "post-work" in the digital post-industrial world. The essay on education, drawn from his own disappointments when running a school, shows he has no truck with the sentimentality of "progressive" education. Yet that same awareness of human fallibility doesn't deter his enthusiasm for a World Government to solve all problems. Most charming are the short pieces about insects and comets.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Minh Quan Nguyen

    A very simple but important idea: the economy is not like a household - one spending is another income. Everyone can't both work more and spend less at the same time. How important this idea is in the great depression we have now! Russell idea of working four hours a day is still a dream. After one hundred years, it is still a dream. I wonder how long it will take for this to come true. Forever? A very simple but important idea: the economy is not like a household - one spending is another income. Everyone can't both work more and spend less at the same time. How important this idea is in the great depression we have now! Russell idea of working four hours a day is still a dream. After one hundred years, it is still a dream. I wonder how long it will take for this to come true. Forever?

  28. 5 out of 5

    Shoaib

    This book contains fifteen of Russell's essays, including In Praise of Idleness, 'Useless' Knowledge and The Ancestry of Fascism - the three I liked the most. As for the review, in the words of Anthony Gottlieb, Bertrand Russell 'looks down on human affairs from empyrean...heights' in a manner that combines detachment with tart wit. This book contains fifteen of Russell's essays, including In Praise of Idleness, 'Useless' Knowledge and The Ancestry of Fascism - the three I liked the most. As for the review, in the words of Anthony Gottlieb, Bertrand Russell 'looks down on human affairs from empyrean...heights' in a manner that combines detachment with tart wit.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Miquixote

    Accompany this with The Overworked American and recall how leisure is good for your state of mind.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    clear, concise condemnation for our culture's (purported) need to work longer hours clear, concise condemnation for our culture's (purported) need to work longer hours

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