In Praise of Idleness and Other Essays is a collection of essays by Bertrand Russell published in 1935. The collection includes essays on the subjects of sociology, philosophy, and economics. In the eponymous essay, Russell argues that if labour was equitably shared out amongst everyone, resulting in shorter work days, unemployment would decrease and human happiness would increase due to the increase in leisure time, further resulting in increased involvement in the arts and sciences.
The following is the summary provided by Bertrand Russell in the preface of the book: "This book contains essays on such aspects of social questions as tend to be ignored in the clash of politics. It emphasizes the dangers of too much organization in the realm of thought and too much strenuousness in action. It explains why I cannot agree with either Communism or Fascism, and wherein I dissent from what both have in common. It maintains that the importance of knowledge consists not only in its direct practical utility but also in the fact that it promotes a widely contemplative habit of mind; on this ground, utility is to be found in much of the knowledge that is nowadays labelled 'useless.' There is a discussion of the connection of architecture with various social questions, more particularly the welfare of young children and the position of women.
"Passing further away from politics, the volume, after discussing the characteristics of Western civilization and the chances of the human race being vanquished by insects, concludes with a discussion of the nature of the soul. The general thesis which binds the essays together is that the world is suffering from intolerance and bigotry, and from the belief that vigorous action is admirable even when misguided; whereas what is needed in our very complex modern society is calm consideration, with readiness to call dogmas in question and freedom of mind to do justice to the most diverse points of view."
Intolerance and bigotry lie at the heart of all human suffering. So claims Bertrand Russell at the outset of In Praise of Idleness, a collection of essays in which he espouses the virtues of cool reflection and free enquiry; a voice of calm in a world of maddening unreason. From a devastating critique of the ancestry of fascism to a vehement defence of 'useless' knowledge, with consideration given to everything from insect pests to the human soul, this is a tour de force that only Bertrand Russell could perform.
- Paperback | 200 pages
- 119.38 x 203.2 x 17.78mm | 158.76g
- 01 Dec 2004
- Taylor & Francis Ltd
- London, United Kingdom
- 2nd Revised edition
- black & white illustrations