On my regular visits to Santa Fe, NM, where we lived back in the day, I always find myself wandering in the little book store that serves St. John’s College. I was enrolled in their graduate program studying literature before beginning the MDiv program at Saint Vladimir’s Seminary in New York in the Fall of 2000. On my last visit I picked up James Carrey’s Graduate Institute Commencement Address from August 2008 titled , Freedom, Letters and Leisure – West and East. In his address he recommends a fantastic book written by Joseph Pieper a German thinker and specialist in Medieval Scholasticism who fell asleep in the Lord in 1997. Pieper’s book, Leisure: The Basis of Culture is the impetus for this blog.
Here is the small excerpt from James Carrey’s address that got me all keyed up:
“Joseph Pieper shows that the contemporary tendency to identify leisure with idleness, or sloth, is a perversion of an earlier way of looking at things. Leisure is the free time, literally the free time, in which we are not enslaved by practical concerns that keep us from cultivating our higher powers of discernment. Leisure is the condition under which intellectual virtues can be acquired. Sloth, on the other hand, is a vice. It is the vice that abuses leisure by filling up the precious free time we have with entertainments and trivialities that make time fly and keep us from reflecting in any kind of sustained fashion on the really important questions human beings can raise. Sloth distracts from the passage of time by making it pass more quickly. Sloth forestalls wonder, which the ancients thought was the beginning of philosophy, and in place of wonder it substitutes curiosity, two more concepts that should be carefully distinguished, but in our times are typically used as synonyms. Wonder and curiosity are similar in that both are states of mind characterized by interest and inquisitiveness. But they differ regarding the character of their objects.”
What do you think Carrey means when he says that wonder and curiosity differ regarding the character of their objects? Let the conversation begin!