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A - Concepts


A1 - Otiose Leisure as Spatial Freedom

Prof. Dr. Günter Figal

The project focused on the temporo-spatial character of otium (σχολή). One research outcome of this project was the production, in the tradition of modern phenomenology, of a monograph-length systematic description of leisure as a free experience of space. The second focus was historical: Nietzsche and Heidegger were examined as philosophers who explore the conditions enabling otiose leisure in modernity. To this end, their descriptions of both philosophy and art as specifically spatial forms of life were considered.

Dr. Ph.D. Tobias Keiling


A2 - ‘Otium’ as a Way of Life in Late Antiquity: ‘Theoría’ and the Monastic Tradition

Prof. Dr. Dr. Thomas Böhm, Dr. Thomas Jürgasch

Late ancient considerations of otium as a way of life have mainly been influenced by Neo-platonic conceptions, as developed for example by Plotinus and Porphyry. In these conceptions we find a strong emphasis on the connection between otium, on the one hand, and the theorίa (‘contemplation’ or ‘vision’) of the first principle, on the other hand. Accordingly, in this context otium is mainly understood as the necessary condition of theorίa. Closely related to this first aspect is the historical reception of the Neoplatonic understanding of otium in the context of Eastern monasticism. This subproject also considered in what sense otium is itself conceived of as identical with the vision, the theorίa (θεωρία), of God. Additionally, in the monastic context the concept of otium is realized in the lecture of the Holy Scripture and in forms of spatialization that characterize the monasterium.

Dr. Andreas Kirchner
Dr. Michael Vollstädt


A3 - The Societal and Ethical Relevance of the Concept of Muße / Leisure

Prof. Dr. Lore Hühn

Proceeding from the Aristotelian concept of leisure (Gr. scholé, σχολή) we developed a systematic distinction between Muße/leisure as the constitutive element of philosophical thinking, on the one hand, and as a condition for open political dialogue, on the other hand. Central to this investigation was the critical exploration of this subject matter in the works of Theodor W. Adorno and Hannah Arendt. In a first stage, we were concerned with the historical development of the concept; in a second stage, we analysed both Adorno’s and Arendt’s notions of Muße in terms of their potential to open up a critical perspective onto modern life, before setting forth (in a third and final stage) a reconceptualization of the term in the light of current debates.

Dr. Jochen Gimmel


A4 - Promoting Leisure (Muße), Creativity and Psychological Health: Applying Elements of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in a Grammar School Context

Prof. Dr. Joachim Bauer, Prof. Dr. phil. Stefan Schmidt

Leisure (Muße) can be defined as a non-circumscribed freedom to develop oneself (i.e. as providing a certain scope for development) which encourages mindful pauses and mental focussing. Leisure so defined is, for various reasons, usually lacking in schools. The aim of this subproject, in which around 300 teachers and students of grammar school (American high school) were involved, was to create a place for „leisure” (Muße) in the everyday routines of school by following the model of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Specially conducted grammar school lessons were used to reflect critically upon a contemporary lifestyle that is characterized by constraints inimical to leisure, e.g. the demand to be available at all times, the fragmentation of a person’s individual attention span, a hectic rhythm of life, and the acute pressure on individuals to live ‘successful’ lives. This project specifically investigated whether by resorting to the named mindfulness-based method one could mitigate the effect of these factors and enhance test participants’ creativity and psychic health. The project was evaluated through controlled design and using a mixed-method approach.

Dr. Sarah Gouda
Dr. Minh Tam Luong


A5 - Self-Transcendance in Otiose Leisure: Reconstructing and Transcending Sociology through Otiose Leisure

Prof. Dr. Manuela Boatca, Prof. Dr. Alexander Lenger
Prof. Dr. Hermann Schwengel (†)

Otiose leisure has never been systematically studied by sociology, but important strands of the sociological literature can be studied afresh from the perspective of our research agenda. This project reconstructed and reassessed twentieth-century theories about modernization, the individual’s methodical structuring of his or her life, and habitus; it also contended that the specific limits of these areas become visible once they are considered from the point of view of otiose leisure. It used the university as an empirical field to study the role of leisure for the productive creation of meaning, comparing three different spaces of creative otiosity: everyday small-scale resistance to (centralized) planning; regular sabbaticals; and the more recent institutional phenomenon of Institutes for Advanced Studies.