Monday, June 30, 2014

Bertrand Russell and idleness

Anyone who knows anything about me knows how averse I am to the very idea of working. Needless to say, a person like Bertrand Russell endears himself to me by saying, "I think that there is far too much work done in the world, that immense harm is caused by the belief that work is virtuous, and that what needs to be preached in modern industrial countries is quite different from what always has been preached." I KNEW it. I was always right and this crazy idea that work is good for you needs to be consigned to the dust-bin. Russell supports me, so there!

One person supporting me does not make me right when the majority support the opposite, you say? Well, Russell has an answer to that as well - "The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible." He is a great chap to have by your side in an argument. Always has a pithy reply to any counter-argument.

I know that you people have this vague idea that when one chap argues he is right and the rest of humanity is wrong, he belongs in a mental asylum. Not really, since people tend to believe that what they cannot do is not worth doing, and what they can do is the only right thing to do. Sour grapes and all that! And, true to the philosophy, Russell identifies WHY people so elevate the concept of working - "To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level." Naturally, therefore, people do not prefer leisure and want an employer to so fill up their time that they have no need for the 'intelligence to fill leisure'.

To all those who have the intelligence to fill their leisure but are also filled with a vague sense of guilt about 'wasting their time', I have some wise words that will eliminate that unnecessary guilt and fill them joy. Of course, it is thanks to Bertrand Russell, who I am almost tempted to call 'Bertie' - so close I feel to him - but for the fear that you may take him for Bertram Wooster, who is a noble example of idleness but has failed to acquire a reputation for being right. Russell says to all the leisured people - "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time."

The converse, I hold, is true. The time you do not enjoy is ALL wasted time. Bertrand Russell does not say so in so many words but he has a far more dangerous thing to say - "One of the symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown is the belief that one's work is terribly important."

NOW you know! If you want to seek inmates for a lunatic asylum, seek them from among the 'workers' of the world. Going by this definition, a lot of them are probably approaching a nervous breakdown!

26 comments:

  1. Love this post :) Can't argue with anything you or Bertrand Russell say here. All sounds very good to me! And very sane and logical.

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    1. Of course it must be sane :) Else I would have to believe I am insane and which insane person ever really believes that? :)

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  2. Another wonderful post dripping with a lot of wisdom, Russel's & yours!

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  3. "The time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time." Hmm.. totally agree.. I should be living by it... So naive of me to have fallen in the trap of those who propagate the "crazy idea that work is good for you"... Thank you Suresh :)

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    1. See! I, too, can speak sense...sometimes :)

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  4. Ha! Our sort of guy, this is. Thanks for this, now I have great arguments to defend my lifestyle.

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    1. Quite - Why do you think I like him so much? :)

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  5. Yess.. this is my favourite topic ..idleness...( That's why I was attracted to the book I mentioned earlier ) :-D... You've my full support on this issue.. No , I don't dare to call him ' Bertie' ..but I'm trying to find out some time when I can spend some time with his words... as you said... he is well worth reading.. :-)

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    1. I was attracted to Russell by that "In praise of idleness" too :)

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  6. Loved this one :P I will keep this line on mind for future reference -"The fact that an opinion has been widely held is no evidence whatever that it is not utterly absurd; indeed in view of the silliness of the majority of mankind, a widespread belief is more likely to be foolish than sensible."

    Btw when I read the part where you almost decided to call him Bertie, the same thing as you wrote next crossed my mind as well :P

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    1. Hahaha! Well - Bertie Wooster was not the sharpest knife in the drawer :)

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  7. ah! I am tempted to call you surie now..I feel so close to you...!! :) :) does feel nice to be rid of all that unwanted guilt! :)

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    1. Uhoh! Never thought that I ran THAT risk :)

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    2. hahaha....bet bertie would have said the same to you!!

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  8. Nice post --it throws a new light on this philosopher.

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    1. He is a philosopher worth looking at in every light :)

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  9. Does make a lot of sense. I guess this is the wisdom which most people seek but do not get in their lifetime.

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    1. Russell, to me, stands ace-high when it comes to wisdom

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  10. Hm.. True .. But in a coporate world, somehow you get into this business of busyness.

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    1. Don't I know it :) Been there, seen that :)

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  11. Now I am one of those who cannot stay idle. I have to do something... coz you know khali dimag shaitan ka ghar... and my dimag is attacked by shaitan way too easily :P

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    1. Dimag khali rakhne ko koun keh raha hai? :) Fill it with fun instead of work :)

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  12. I'm going to have to read some of Bertram's work. He sounds like an early hippie!

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    1. Bertrand probably would have been but for being a Lord :)

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