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Philosophy of Culture

On Leisure Theory In The Field Of Cultural Spirit

Ma Huidi

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ABSTRACT: China, with a large population, has its own characteristics in establishing new values for leisure. One of the most vital characteristics of leisure is that family is considered as its main subject. Therefore, strengthening the family culture has become a new conception of leisure. In the countryside, about 85 percent of the villages and towns have set up various entertainment and leisure places which reflect the family culture. In cities, people have a new conception of residence which pursues a community culture that respects people's rights and advocates an harmonious integration of human beings and nature. Meanwhile, the leisure culture has been enriched by a plan that includes bodybuilding for everyone, reading clubs, family politics studies, art appreciation and environmental protection organizations comprised mainly of volunteers. New value of the leisure of humankind is coming into being in various fields.

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In the 20th century, one of the greatest contributions of science and technology to the mankind is that it has freed the human beings from heavy physical labor and given the people full leisure time. With the coming of the digital era, most of the future life and state of living of the mankind will be spent in leisure time. Therefore, leisure has become an important part of the human social activities. What is leisure? What kind of inner links exist between leisure and the quality of the human life? What enlightenment can we gain from leisure, which is an implication of cultural spirit? What kind of value of leisure shall we have in the future? All the above questions need our careful consideration.

Leisure refers to the time the people have after they finish necessary social labor, which is based on reduction of man-hours. Leisure is a form of the state of human life, generally including eliminating physical fatigue and gaining spiritual comfort. With the development of science and technology as well as the social advancement, leisure has provided conditions for the rich spiritual life of the people. It is said that recreation will free the people from labor. On the one side, the hardness of labor will weaken due to longer rest and recovery time; on the other side, recreation should play a role in compensating the pains caused by labor to the people, helping them find back the possibility of the physical and spiritual balance damaged by labor.

Leisure culture is the distillation of leisure in the field of culture, meaning a kind of living state and way of behavior in a process of cultural creation, cultural enjoyment and cultural construction so as to meet many-sided demands of the people. It creates cultural atmosphere, transfer cultural information and build cultural artistic conception through the behavior, thought, feeling and activities of individual or group; thus, physical and mental development of the individuals will be achieved in a comprehensive and intact way. The essence of leisure mainly reflects a type of spiritual life of the people. Leisure, with a special implication of cultural spirit, is different from spare time or idle time. Instead it refers to the people's self-development after their necessary labor time.

The American sociologist T. Veblen was the founder of leisure study in the view of culture, which started at the end of 19th century. Leisure is very important and necessary for the people's many-sided self-development. In the 50s and 60s of this century, various international labor organizations issued declarations on the rights of the laborers in succession, providing full legal guarantee for leisure and mood for enjoyments.

China has a long history of leisure culture. Before modern times, the leisure culture was mainly reflected among feudal officials and literatus. Many excellent Chinese traditional works, including The Book of Songs, The Songs of Chu, The Poems of Tang, The Ballads of Song, The Yuan Qu and The Trivial Memories of Autumn Light written in the Qing Dynasty, have recorded rich contents of leisure culture. However, the leisure culture was far from most ordinary people at that time; and due to the special background of the Chinese social culture in the past century, China's leisure culture had dropped to be at a low tide.

In contemporary China, Mr. Guangyuan Yu was the first to put forward the theory of leisure culture. In 1983 and 1994, he pointed out that play is one of the basic needs of human beings and people should play with culture, study the science of play and grasp and develop the skills of play. In 1995, Mr. Yu established "the Liuhe Leisure Culture Planning Center", beginning the study on leisure cultural theory so as to promote the leisure with taste for all ordinary people. As a kind of governmental activity and state system, leisure culture merely started in the past decade. Since 1985, the Research Center of Promotion and Development of Science and Technology of China's State Commission for Science and Technology had studied "The Reduction of Man-Hours" for more than two years. In February 1987, the center proposed a report on the preliminary practical research on reduction of man-hours in China. Afterwards, the Chinese government had made eight-year preparations for the reduction of man-hours. In May 1995, the system of five workdays was carried out throughout the country. In the second half of 1995, China issued the "plan of body-building for the whole people", advocating scientific, civilized and healthy way of life which has shown that China has entered the world process of leisure culture and opened a new era of China's leisure culture.

It is necessary to consider the nature of people if we ponder over leisure from the angle of cultural spirit. It is well known that the most basic difference between the people and the other living things is the people have the property of social culture. Human beings are in a state of spirit. With the connotation of cultural spirit, leisure can reflect more essential needs of the people.

There is no doubt that people will have more and more leisure time in their life with the coming of modern society. However, we have to notice and experience such a fact: alienation of the people in modern time in the process of their "occupation" makes the contradictions between human and nature, person and person, the balance and unbalance of individual inner world become sharper and sharper.

At first in the academic circles, mankind has started to self-examine and criticizes from the dimension of cultural spirit. Bell once described our society as follows, "The developed science and technology extends human living space, widens fields of human vision, increases human self-realization and strengthens human power to control and use nature. However, the essential issues also follow hard at heel: Although modern knowledge is ever comprehensive, special and precise, modern man feels unprecedented insignificance and helplessness; The separations between the religion and human life, between the youth and the old hinder the communication among them. The scientific idea blindly expands and soaks into the field of the humanities and it pays no heed to human value. As a consequence, modern man has rich"knowledge", but he lacks the intelligence to grasp the significance of life and integrative thought to deal with the complicated situations in modern time. Therefore Bell cried out sadly, "Who am I?"The question demonstrates the serious of human being. Doesn't it? The contradictions between physical products and human soul are becoming increasingly distinct.

It was found out that there were 89% American had experienced heavy psychological depress according to a recent American Harris public opinion poll. The data supplied by the Ministry of Public Health of France show that the reasons of death that speed ghastly were not AIDS, not drug taking, not traffic accidents, but suicide caused by psychological depress. In Germany 10 percent of the people has psychological problem. The United Nations International Organization for Reform Through Labor told us in a published report that psychological depress had become one of the most serious health problems. In China, there are 20.3 per cent of 126 thousand college students has suffered from psychological depress in accordance with the result of sample investigation made by the State Education Commission of China. In addition, the 1996 investigation report of the state commission for Restructuring Economy of China showed that there were 68.5 percent of residents felt pressure in their life. On the whole, psychological problem in different degree exists wide spread in the nation.

Certainly feeling puzzled doesn't mean that man isn't thinking deeply. Human has realized in reason that the development of modernization itself is only means and its ultimate aim is to improve human life or develop life quality. A life lacking significance and value is obviously not worth admiring. Therefore it has no lofty character. Since this century there have been many thinkers, scholars who have shown solicitude for the world of human life. (Referring to their spiritual life)

Daily life is the carrier of leisure (its reciprocal entirety in fact). It is necessary for us to examine our concept of daily life. It's self -evident that daily life is compared with conscious spiritual activity such as science, art, philosophy and with organized social activity such as politics, economy and management. It is a summary of daily ideological activity, social activity and the other activities which take individual's direct conditions natural communities as family, village, street block, as elementary condition and aim to sustain individual survival and reproduction. The most elementary activities of human are to obtain means of subsistence and consume activity. Their aims are to meet the needs of food ,clothing ,shelter and transportation, sexual, continuing the individual's body life, and daily idea activities along with the various mentioned activities, but they are not initiative and complex. In this way we divided human society into daily life world and not-daily life world".Obviously, leisure bear the whole duty and obligation of daily life world. In the thirties of this century, Phenomenalist Husel after observed the cultural crisis caused by the social effect of science, pointed out profoundly "This is a crisis of philosophy, a crisis of man himself". "The root causing this crisis was that science world stealthily replaced and forgot the life world in the course of constructing itself. Therefore, we must come back to life world in order to break away from this crisis.

Heidegger, the founder of existentialist, after analyzing the wholly alienation of the modern daily life, questioned closely, "what is the significance of being"(being is the normal person itself). He thought "Daily common being's world or daily life world is an overall alienated field, not real status quo. "He thinks it mainly epitomized that the daily subject totally eliminates the being of itself out of the other patterns of existence, identified with common people without individual so as to shape the undivided average state. The subject of daily common being escapes the freedom as well as shirk responsibility. The communication of daily common being among the subjects also has alienated character. He put forward precisely, "the existence mechanism of the pattern of daily common being is the matter of mistaking and covering itself at first. Lefever, French philosopher, held up the flag of criticism, and pointed out that by now the real man hasn't come into being, and man is still in alienated inhuman state. This alienation existed in the whole life field such as working, thinking ,demanding and communication. He regarded daily life as a gradation between economic basis and superstructure. Just because the daily life had so important basic position. Its alienation inevitably hindered the conforming of the total man and directly obstructed and blinded up the revolution tendency of superstructure and ideology From pointed out the question of whether occupation or existence sharply?" After castigating man's character of self- centralism egoism and desire of occupation," He pointed out deeply, "Just in spare time, people think they are free, but in fact, it is only conditional release for a Sunday". But in the last analysis, "The life of the human body was decided by whether man could thoroughly change his own soul." Therefore he calls such a new man who attaches importance to existence, spirit, and initiation. The scholars of Western Marxism also reviewed and reconstructed the traditional human daily life.

Argnis Heller, a female scholar of Hungary, in her book named Daily Life, taking three hidden questions separately, the essence of man (potential abilities), basic needs and daily life as the main route of it, revealed the structure of the daily life of the world of today, seeked the probability to make the present daily life become humanity. She pointed out that social transform cannot be achieved only on macro-scale. At any rate, the man's self-remolding and the man's attitude alternation are inner composition of every transform. As the important space time of human activity value intention of daily life must has certain improvement. She pointed out "We can already see this value intensively in traditional culture. All these questions that how we feed ourselves, what we eat and how to eat, where we live and how to arrange our room, expressed the humanity tendency. The key thought of this book is that only by improving the cultural spirit of human and giving freedom to man's various potential abilities, the man will obtain happiness.

Marcuse, a Frankfort school philosopher, after summing up the whole course of capitalist society he pointed out, "Dominating physical products was never the whole work of the whole labor and intelligence of human. If a man devotes all his final goal and happiness into these products, it will certainly make himself be a slave of man and material." However, along with the realizing of modernization and industrialization, the issue of human liberation seems to be forgotten by man. He warned us, "The liberation of human is not only in the material scale, the emancipation in economy does not mean the emancipation in philosophy- culture, rational freedom does not equal to perceptual happiness. The basic hallmark and realized way of liberation of human is to dispel the psychological and

instinctive depress by the means of art and culture. In recent years, a widespread discussion on postmodern cultural id rose in the west, lots of philosophers ,scholars broke out the capitalist order, exposed the inner contradictions between its society and culture, reviewed deeply the current situation of person, had the greatest esteem for reconstructing more rational forms of society and made an appeal to recast healthy cultural character. It is obvious that there is a closely mutual relation between cultural spirit and leisure. So leisure is taken as a post for person's soul. At the same time it bears the historical responsibility to construct human culture spirit. Therefore it bears the momentous current significance.

In future, a new society based on leisure will come into reality instead of an old society based on employment. We have adequate reason to believe that human being will use his own consciousness to build the leisure concept adapting to the new time.

There is no doubt that all the genie thinkers aim at the future .Although sometime their theories are considered as fancy, if you stop your impulse and pay attention to their passional lecture, we can benefit from them , and be infected by their spirit and grasp the religion how to be a man. In the end , a new concept can be brought birth into our soul world. The global aspiration of "peace and development", the declaration of sustainable development, the balance between man and nature, the adjustment of international relation, and so on, are all the new kinds of culture spirit and social atmosphere. Under such background, the new leisure concept is rising in our sight.

In American, satisfying job, comfortable house and luxury cars are all the concrete content of American's dream. But nowadays, more and more people, specially the middle-class well educated, prefer to less doing, less earning and less spending, The life of VOLUNTARY SIMPLICITY is growing popular and has become one of ten tendency acceptable life model.

Recently, the Japanese known as "crazy-work " have also strived for sportaneousness of human being and hoped that people can live with honesty, love and other oriented attitule.One of Japanese scholar put forward in his book Simple Philosophy thrifty and simple with less lust. And it became popular.

The Korean however, prefer to combine the family life with their work harmoniously. The reason is very simple: without active work and harmonious family relationship, people can never achieve their success during their lives. In Paris, "philosophy coffee house" that could be traced back to 18th century once again, becomes the most popular place.

China with a huge population has its own characteristic in setting up new attitudes toward leisure. Since family plays an important role in our leisure, the enforce of family culture construction becomes a fascinating scene. In most rural areas, about 85% of total countryside have built a variety of entertainment centers where family culture is reflected. In urban areas, the new concept of "living" is established like this: a community with colorful culture, where man is the center, human rights are respected and nature can be obtained. In addition to this, there are many other clubs or organizations which make the leisure culture more colorful, such as sports and reading club, home economics learning, art-appreciation club and environmental-protection organization composed of volunteers, and so on. Oyeken, the famous German life philosopher, who devoted the whole life to the research of life's meaning and worth, told us, "the history of human progress provide an important clue ----civilization, nationality and individual which could get the power of belief only by unity of the spirit of life. Human being is the converging point of nature and spirit. The duty and privilege of human being is pursuing spirit life in active Attitude. The new value of leisure of the mankind is coming into being in various fields."

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During the process of my writing, I got help from my friends, especially selfless help from Mr. Guangyuan Yu who himself helped me to search materials and directed my writing. I also owe much to Miss Chun Lin from America, Professor Huajie Liu from Beijing University, Miss Qing Xiang from State Science and Technology Developing Center, Doctor Fengnian Wang from Science and Technology Institute of China. I give my hearty thanks to them.

References and Bibliography

(1) Ma Huidi, Leisure: Construct A Happy Home in Human Spiritual, Future and Development ,No.4,1996.

(2) Yi Zunqing, Slections From Yi zunqing,1995, Heilongjiang Press.

(3) Wang yuechuan, Studies in Culture of Postmodernism, Beijing University Press,1992.

(4) Agnes Heller, Every Life, Routledge & Kegan Paul,London and New York,1984.

(5) Zhang Wei, Studies in Thought of Fromm, Chongqing Press,1996.

(6) Martin Heidergger,Sein Und Zeit,Max Niemeyer Verlag Tubingan,1979.

(7) John Naisbitt, Megatrends----Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives, Warner Books,Inc, New York Printed in the United States of America First Printing: October 1982.

(8) Marcuse, Selections From Marcuse, Shanghai SanLian Books,China,1995.

(9) Pierre Bourdieu, Handbook of Theory and Research For Sociology Of Education, Shanhai People Books,1988.

(10) A.H.Maslow, Look For Myself, Beijing Worker Press,1988.

(11) Daniel Bell, The Cultural Contradictions Of Capitalism, Baisic Books,Inc, Publishers, New York,1978.

(12) Erich Fromm, Haber Oder Sein, Die Seelisehen Grundlagen einer neuen Gesellschaft Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag,Munchen,1982.

(13) Roger Sue, Le Loisir, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris,1980.

(14) Robert Lanquar, Le Tourism International,5e edition Presses Universitairs, de France Paris,1993.

(15) Veblen.T.,The Theory of the Leisure Class.

(16) Karl Jaspers, Man in the Modem Age, Routledge & Kegan Paul Limited,1951.

(17) Rudolf Eucken, The Mearning and Value of Life, Adam and Charles Black, London,1913.

(18) Yu Guangyuan, Introduce Two Discusses in Recreation of Max, Consumer Ecomomy,No.3.1995.

(19) Peng Guoliang, The Soliloquy For Leisure Life, Hunan People Press,1991.

(20) Bibliographies: Consumer Culture and Leisure, From Soa01@gold.ac.uk.

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