In Bertrand Russell’s essay, In Praise of Idleness, he makes a claim that people believe everything worth doing is servile. When I came across this I remembered how long we discussed very similar beliefs among ourselves in class. This statement coincided with my belief that people always do a task just to achieve some kind of achievement.
Russell was expressing his views on the possibility of a four hour work day and how the modern man would be unable to effectively utilize that extra time. This way of thinking is exemplify later in the paragraph, “The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake” (Russell 7). He is stating that men believe that everything they do must be servile in order for it to have a purpose. The modern man in Russell’s eyes cannot and will not see leisure as a viable option for their time. Only if they believe that they will get something meaningful out of it, will they try leisure which is not what the intended purpose of leisure is.
This claim is a sad truth about our modern-day society’s way of thinking. People only perform an act or activity if they know that it is done for the sake of something else. This is mostly seen with a job, but can also be viewed in studying for a test or playing a sport strictly to win. You are not enjoying the process of that activity, so it is therefore servile. If people start engaging in tasks like critical thinking just to do it instead of finding some specific answer, there will be less emphasis on servile work. Ever since we were young it has been repeated that we must do this so that we can find an answer, but no one really told us to just stop and think deeply about a subject. This passage in a sense reaffirmed my belief that the modern-day thinking of individuals does not include time to engage in some type of liberal activity.