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Elvis Chidera

In Praise of Idleness — Paper Summary

summary, paper, society1 min read

Today's summary is about an essay written by Bertrand Russell in 1932.


  1. The morality of work is the morality of slaves, and the modern world has no need of slavery.
  2. The conception of duty, speaking historically, has been a means used by the holders of power to induce others to live for the interests of their masters rather than for their own.
  3. In England, in the early nineteenth century, fifteen hours was the ordinary day's work for a man.
  4. The modern man thinks that everything ought to be done for the sake of something else, and never for its own sake.
  5. The individual, in our society, works for profit; but the social purpose of his work lies in the consumption of what he produces. It is this divorce between the individual and the social purpose of production that makes it so difficult for men to think clearly in a world in which profit-making is the incentive to industry.

In a world where no one is compelled to work more than four hours a day, every person possessed of scientific curiosity will be able to indulge it, and every painter will be able to paint without starving, however excellent his pictures may be. Young writers will not be obliged to draw attention to themselves by sensational pot-boilers, with a view to acquiring the economic independence needed for monumental works, for which, when the time at last comes, they will have lost the taste and capacity.

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