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2010 | 50 | 1 | 66-71

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Leisure as a Category of Culture, Philosophy and Recreation



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When we look at the very origins of human world, civilization in its history and prehistory, we can trace strong evidence of the archaic presence of leisure in human life. It seems striking and meaningful that in fact all that is human streams out from leisure. Leisure occurs to be an arch-human phenomenon. This paper addresses this multidimensional cultural presence and the sense and value of leisure conceived as a source of civilization, symbolic thought, social institutions, habits and practices. The cultural primordiality of leisure is evident when we take into consideration an aboriginal release from total preoccupation with only impulsive and instinctual survival activities that took place in the era of Homo habilis some 2 millions years ago. It is obvious that free time was a great achievement of these evolutionary forms of human beings when we reflect upon the earliest seeds of consciousness expressed in primitive pebble tools. These tools tell us about at least three important messages from our prehistory: that first man must have had some free time to think about given life-troubles and inventing implements; that primitive tools must have been a real help and means for hastening and unburdening a load of work and must have given in effect a small amount of discretionary time to avoid impulsive activity; and last, that primitive tools afterwards became the first material for imaginative aesthetic transformation and gave the first impulse for art. So art was the earliest non-compulsory and non-functional field of free activity and a borderline between the biological and cultural existence of infra-human and human species, the former centered completely and instinctively on just remaining alive and the latter disclosing outdistanced, free and reflective behavior. The next evolutionary steps in development of using free time were religion and philosophy. In religious acts with their ritual practices human beings made holy days of their holidays. Philosophical contemplation gave broad space for autonomous and autotelic thinking and self-fulfilling practices focused on human intellectual and moral self-realization (semi-divine activity and happiness). But the most modern acceleration of exercising leisure is recreation understood as a differential area of physical culture, tourism, play and rest. Leisure occurs to be not only free time after obligatory activities bound up with biological determinants of life and with work are completed, it is also an important social factor (for instance, for the stratification of the levels or classes of society), an existential state of being, a phenomenon of rejuvenation, enjoyment, pastime, pleasure, distraction, indolence, idleness. Leisure appears at last a great challenge for humans to show their own specific and private attitude towards their lives and understanding their own position in the whole world. The authentic leisure is not void time, it is overfilled with creative acts confirming human freedom and capacity for transgressionvirtue, here and now, sentiments










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1 - 12 - 2010
23 - 12 - 2010


  • University School of Physical Education in Cracow, Poland


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