Recreation, Leisure and Play

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Leisure

The idea of leisure has been in existence for many centuries and has come to have many different meanings depending on the period in history or the civilization that it originated from. From as early as Ancient Greece, Rome or Babylonia, the term we now know as leisure has existed in some form or another. As has been widely noted in introductory recreation texts, schole was both the ancient Greek word for leisure meaning, “serious activity without the pressure of necessity” and is the root of the English word for school (Godbey, 2003). To the ancient Greeks, leisure, education, and culture were intertwined. In other words, learning was available only for the rich, people with the wealth to afford free time. Leisure, as we know it today, has changed from the original meaning of the word. From what I have read and found in various books and articles, Leisure can be defined in 3 different ways: leisure defined as a state of being or a state of mind, leisure defined as an activity, and leisure defined as time. I will discuss the various definitions of leisure today and then discuss my issues with each definition.

Leisure Defined as a State of Mind

Leisure defined as a state of mind is, in my mind, the least often used definition of the word. The way to understand this concept would be use it in the context such as “someone who is at leisure”; meaning freedom from anxiety, obligation, or constraint or having an internal locus of control. Locus of Control refers to an individual's perception of main causes of events in life.  More simply, having an internal locus of control means that you believe that you are the master of your own destiny. John Neulinger (1974) states:

Leisure has one and only one essential criterion, and that is the condition of perceived freedom. Any activity carried out freely, without constraint or compulsion, may be considered to be leisure. “To leisure” implies being engaged in any activity as a free agent and of one’s own choice. (p. 12)

Now I want you to keep in mind this idea of leisure as any activity of one’s own free willed decision because I am going to touch on it again during the leisure defined as time.

Leisure Defined as an Activity

Leisure defined as an activity is used widely as well. Most people would agree that leisure activity is something that is fun and enjoyable during a non-working time. This idea makes it difficult to pinpoint a leisure activity though. Understanding if the activity is performed for intrinsic or extrinsic purposes may be the deciding factor whether the activity is leisure or not. The distinction between intrinsic and extrinsic properties plays an essential role in stating several interesting philosophical problems. Why am I performing this action? If you are doing the activity because you enjoy it, then you are performing it for its intrinsic value. If you do not want to participate in an activity, but you know that you will benefit from the activity, you are performing it for its extrinsic value. An example would be a person who practices on the piano because they like to play, versus a person who practices piano because they want to win a music contest. Who of the two is experiencing leisure as an activity? Most people would agree that the first person is definitely experiencing leisure as an activity. The second person is where the debate lays. It is the same exact activity as the first person, but the motivation for performing the activity is different. I feel that as long as you, as a free willed individual, choose to perform any activity then you are experiencing leisure as an activity because you are fulfilling your desires. I feel that the only time when you are may not experience leisure is when you are dying. If you have lived a long life and eventually die from old age, I do not believe that you made the decision out of free will to pass away. Although, if a person commits suicide, does that persons free willed...
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