Institute of Art and Ideas (2018)

Karl Aho
Tarleton State University
C. Stephen Evans
Baylor University
A 2016 article in the Journal of Consumer Research argues that busyness has become a status symbol. In earlier societies, such as the 19th century Thorstein Veblen describes in his Theory of the Leisure Class, the wealthy conspicuously avoided work. They saw idleness as an ideal. By contrast, contemporary Americans praise being overworked. They see busy individuals as possessing rare and desirable characteristics, such as competence and ambition. To respond philosophically to our new overworked overlords and status icons, we need only return to the 19th century Danish philosopher Søren Kierkegaard. Kierkegaard is known for his philosophical account of boredom, which is often associated with idleness. If busyness is the opposite of idleness, perhaps he can diagnose busyness also.
Keywords Kierkegaard  Anxiety  Busyness  Idleness
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