In the introductory paragraph in chapter five of Josef Pieper’s Leisure, Pieper mentions this idea of “art for art’s sake.” To me, this statement means that one participates in an activity (in this example, art) based purely on their enjoyment of this activity. Pieper states that this idea was an attempt to separate art from the universal need for everything in our world to have useful purpose. This passage resonated with me, because I consider photography to be one of my hobbies. I take pictures to make myself happy; I don’t necessarily care if they are of significance to another person. They are significant to me.
The particular part of this passage that stuck out to me was the idea that generally it is in human nature to not partake in activities if there is no outcome of profit. This passage also reminded me of another passage that we had discussed in class. Thomas Aquinas said “Only those arts are called liberal or free which are concerned with knowledge; those which are concerned with utilitarian ends that are attained through activity, however, are called servile.” This again reinforces the common idea that if there is no gain for others, there is no use in participating. Leisure activities do not add to the GDP, they deplete resources, so what’s the point? This is a common theme throughout Pieper’s Leisure, as it appears again in chapter 5. I think Pieper is demanding the reader to question are leisure activities are valid if they deplete the nation’s resources and do not necessarily benefit our economy?
In my opinion, I think the idea of “art for art’s sake” is wonderful. In order to want to serve and produce for our nation, it is important for people to feel happy and appreciated. Hobbies and leisure adds to a human’s well-being. Pieper even calls leisure a celebration. It is important to take time to oneself and do things that one enjoys. For me, this is photography. When I have time available, after homework and other necessary duties, I take pictures. This helps relieve me of any stress I may have. I think people often consume themselves with work, and do not take time to do things they genuinely enjoy. The happiness of people should not be overlooked in our world. Although our nations GDP and resources are VERY important to consider, nothing is more important than a state of well-being.