Langeweile und Muße : Pascal – Augustinus – Aristoteles

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Title: Langeweile und Muße : Pascal – Augustinus – Aristoteles
Author: Wagner, Patrick
Contributor: University of Helsinki, Faculty of Arts
Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, Arts and Society
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2021-09-06
Language: de
Thesis level: Doctoral dissertation (monograph)
Abstract: The doctoral thesis examines the philosophical-historical interrelations between boredom and leisure. It follows the central hypothesis that both boredom and leisure express in a mirrored way a reflexive relationship of the human being to the self and the world, sharing a connecting element in their ontological reference to the absolute, i.e., God or the divine. The topics are presented in a threefold structure: Beginning with the modern position of Blaise Pascal and focusing on boredom (›ennui‹), followed by the early Christian and late ancient view of the neo-platonic theologian and philosopher Augustine of Hippo, dealing with curiosity (›curiositas‹) as the dialectical counterpart to boredom, and concluding with the ancient perspective of Aristotle, which has leisure (›scholē‹) as its subject. This inverted chronological arrangement of the three authors and the subject areas is methodologically justified, referring to the effective historical and hermeneutical perspective of the thesis: Starting from the most recent and best-known position of understanding boredom primarily as a psychological phenomenon, it is shown that even this seemingly purely psychological phenomenon has a historical dimension and is ontologically based. From there on, the historical and philosophical references to Augustine’s curiosity are presented, to finally juxtapose the dualism of ennui and curiositas with the psychological, historical, and ontological dimensions of leisure in Aristotle. Thus, the actual hermeneutic gain of the thesis consists in revealing the psychological, historical and, above all, ontological depth layers of boredom and leisure, which in particular broadens the view for the more recent philosophical discussions of the phenomena. Based on the three-stage structure of the thesis, several central results can be identified, which in turn stand in a holistic relationship to each other. Blaise Pascal’s Pensées, which contain the first philosophically profound examination of boredom, closely link ennui with the question of worldliness. Boredom in this specific context acts as mood-related evidence of an ontological dualism that draws a sharp distinction between the sensual world and the sphere of the divine. As a consequence of the apostasy of God, for Pascal boredom is precisely the expression of human worldly existence, even though this mode of being in most cases is suppressed by the means of distraction and diversion (›divertissement‹). In this sense, Pascal proposes an affirmation of boredom through which man orients himself towards the divine, creating ontological stability and establishing a relation to divine tranquility (›repos‹) without reaching it entirely. In this respect, boredom can be understood as a specifically transcendent mood that is essentially based on a dualistic conception of the world. The dialectical counterpart to this affirmation of boredom can be found in the phenomenon of curiosity (›curiositas‹), which is a central motif of the tenth book of the Augustinian Confessions and which can also be understood as an indicator of a dualistic division between the divine and the world. In the comparison of both positions, that of Pascal and that of Augustine, the philosophical-historical reference between a specific tendency of modern and early Christian late ancient thought emerges: The questioning and problematization of the human position within the world. The observed results lead to the conclusion that boredom in this specific context can be read as a form of unworldliness to which one can refer to as lingering in restlessness. It is therefore evident that boredom, in terms of the history of philosophy, has a genuine religious connotation and stems from the dualistic separation of man from God. In contrast to the interrelated perspectives of Pascal and Augustine, the Aristotelian position is characterized by fundamental ontological confidence towards nature, sensuality, and the world. This ontological trust subsequently has an impact on Aristotle’s assessment of the possibility of human tranquility and stability in the world itself. For Aristotle, leisure is a way of being that represents an ontological calmness in which something happens without something being intended. Leisure opens the space for theoretical life and, in doing so, it constitutes the relationship between man and the divine that is, concerning the aspect of worldliness, ontologically undivided. In contrast to the frozen restlessness of boredom, which exposes the ontologically absolute tranquility in its absence, Aristotelian leisure represents a resting in oneself, in which divine and human modes of being temporarily coincide. From an effective historical point of view, both boredom and leisure represent fundamental human forms of reference to the instance of the divine, aiming for some sort of rest and stability. The way they do this, however, is opposed to one another and depends on the ontological conception of the world they are embedded in. In this respect, it becomes clear that the two phenomena are closely intertwined with an ontological self-location of man within the world.Arbetet gäller det filosofiska förhållandet mellan långleda och ledighet (ledig tid, Muße). Utgångspunkten ligger i två centrala teser, nämligen att både långleda och ledighet inbegriper en trefaldig relationalitet och att bägge fenomenen därvidlag förhåller sig kontrastivt och komplementärt till varandra: de uppenbarar bägge ett reflexivt förhållande till det egna jaget och hänvisar samtidigt till en inneboende relation till världen. Detta dubbla drag kulminerar samtidigt i en tredje hänvisande funktion, nämligen till det absoluta, d.v.s. till Gud eller det gudomliga. Argumentationen förlöper i tre hermeneutiskt och verkningshistoriskt motiverade filosofihistoriska steg. Utgångspunkten ligger i den position under Nya tiden som illustreras av Pascal. I sina Pensées inleder han med att betrakta långledan ur ett psykologiskt perspektiv för att sedan återföra den på en historisk och ontologisk djupdimension och inrangera den i en kristen kontext. Avhandlingen uppföljer detta med en undersökning om nyfikenheten i Augustinus Confessiones. Det dialektiska spänningsförhållandet till långledan hos Pascal dryftas i detta avsnitt med beaktande av de verkningshistoriska sambanden. I den därpå följande tematiska delen av arbetet tolkas Aristoteles uppfattning om ledigheten (scholê) utgående från likaledes psykologiska, historiska och ontologiska synpunkter för att sedan avslutningsvis låta denna behandling klargöra förhållandet till långledan. Så framtonar i kontrastiv relief de ontologiska relationer till världen som inryms i långleda och ledighet. Pascals långleda kan här tolkas som ett tecken och symptom på en ontologisk separation (chorismos) som radikalt skiljer sinnevärlden och med den också människan från den gudomliga sfären. Den augustinska nyfikenheten framträder som det åtföljande dialektiskt komplementära fenomenet som under Nya tiden i Pascals begrepp förströelse finner sitt eko. Mot den distans till världen som genomsyrar jaget hos Pascal står Aristoteles ontologiska tillförsikt som låter en koincidens mellan gudomligt och mänskligt vara komma till synes i just ledigheten och här också ser ett samband med autarki (självbestämning). Så framträder långleda och ledighet i detta verkningshistoriska hermeneutiska perspektiv som latenta ontologiska fenomen.
Subject: philosophy
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