Ordinary Human Language

by Brian Crane

How Much Is Enough?

What is the good life? This book looks through the humanistic tradition–mostly the European but with passing attention to the Chinese and the Indian as well–to offer an answer. The resulting survey is often inspiring. It’s answer (and one I agree with) is: one where you work enough to have what you need and the rest of your time is spent in leisure. (Leisure here means purposeful purposelessness in the sense of an artist or a parent or a philosopher who works intensely to achieve a purpose that is good for nothing outside of itself.)

Oddly enough, despite agreeing wholeheartedly with the discussion of work and leisure, I was unsettled by the economic proscriptions. The cultural language is conservative. Turned political, it hints at dark corners, sometimes catholic, sometimes oppressively political, and I found myself pulling back. In a world as inegalitarian as ours, I don’t trust (instinctively and rationally) that political proscriptions aimed at permitting greater leisure will support me rather than simply rest upon my shoulders.

My clippings file follows after the break. It is long and was pulled out of the bowels of the Kindle Machine (may its battery boil over and corrode its circuit-riddled heart), and so it has locations (good for computers) rather than page numbers (good for readers).

Posted October 21, 2012