Brief for 09/26

Idleness is a philosophy of life.

This article states that as a continuously developing society, the tendency to produce and the desire to progress urge people to move forward, even without carefully thinking about where to go and how to make it; most importantly, people forget who they are. People criticizing others being “idle” simply because they are not externally producing or making process, ignoring the internal process of thinking, reflecting, and developing. The “Zeitgeist we live and labor in” (Slouka, 59) shapes the hegemonic ideology of our society and the way we humans perceive ourselves and each other.

Slouka is definitely against such hegemonic ideology. I find his definition of “democracy” very interesting in the article: “what the democratic mind requires … is time; time to consider its options. Time to develop the democratic virtues of independence, orneriness, objectivity, and fairness…” (Slouka, 58). The “democracy” he talks about here has nearly nothing to do with politics and social justice, but instead, with self-awareness and epistemology. Being personally democratic means being spontaneous and internally-inspired to think, reflect, and make choices. Otherwise, if we have no time to behave personally democratically, “we are less citizens than cursors, easily manipulated, vulnerable to the currents of power” (Slouka, 58) – in other words, we turn to be the slave of the hegemonic ideology.

Here I really want to refer to a philosophical ideology of Immanuel Kant. He believed that acting truly freely means acting according to a determination that is given inside us, which is entirely different from a preference of a taste or a desire for food. For the latter, I’m only “responding to a desire I haven’t chosen. I’m obeying my thirst” (Sandel, 109); while regarding the former, I am giving myself a self-determined law, which has mostly gone through a long period of thinking, experiencing, and evaluation. This process reflects the advanced ability of human with the capability to reason, leading to our democratic autonomy, independence, and free will, rather than the situations that “we are driven by the desire to seek pleasure and avoid pain (that are not chosen by ourselves)” (Sandel, 108).

To behave democratically, or in a self-governed way, it’s not really about what the society (the hegemonic ideology) say but what you say. Idleness is just like wandering around in our lives. We take time to pause, to look around, to think, and finally to decide who we are and where we want to go.



Sandel, Michael. Justice: What’s the Right Thing To Do? New York, 2009.

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