Recreating the Arts

  • Hayden Ramsay


In her treatment of leisure Elizabeth Telfer extends Aristotelian contemplative leisure to embrace other intrinsically worthwhile activities, including aesthetic creativity and the contemplation of beauties. In my account of reflective leisure too the arts have high recreational value. Of course, the arts are not just another leisure activity (like sport or travel): for they also celebrate a distinct dimension of human nature and wellbeing (artistry and appreciation, not just relaxation and rejuvenation). In this respect, they are like study or worship or exercise; they can exercise more than one human capacity: recreation as well as intellect, or spirituality, or health. The arts are part of leisure because of their capacity to stir reflection and to use and extend our play skills. Committed artists and arts lovers also take part in play and develop reflective insights through their aesthetic activities; thus the arts add to the leisure profile of a society serious about leisure, and not only to its aesthetic profile.


Leisure Activity Aesthetic Experience Audience Member Play Skill Human Good 
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  1. 1.
    The relations between appreciating beauty and pondering truth are complex. For good discussion, see Ronald Hepburn Wonder and Other Essays (Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1984).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    In fact, the dependence of economies on the arts and of the arts on economies is complex. For a different approach, see the argument in Tyler Cowen In Praise of Commercial Culture (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1998).Google Scholar

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© Hayden Ramsay 2005

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  • Hayden Ramsay

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