Working for the Weekend?

Molly Shannon- AM session

As Loverboy once said “Everybody’s working for the weekend!” However, Aristotle would strongly disagree with Loverboy’s argument. He clearly points out in The Nichomachean Ethics that “happiness, therefore, does not consist in amusement.” [1] Well what does this mean? Aristotle expands on this further saying, “But to be serious and to labour for the same of amusement seems silly and utterly childish…”. [2]“Again, the happy life is thought to be that which exhibits virtue; and such a life must be serious and cannot consist in amusement.” [3] I believe he means our lives must not be carefree or centered around amusement. If our lives are to have virtue, they must be serious and we should find fulfillment in our work and only participate in recreation when we can no longer work. Is this how the rest of the world thinks about life?

When I first read over this section of the chapter I found it relatively harsh. As a student, I know I count down the days of school until I can relax and not be in the classroom. But according to Aristotle, I am thinking about life completely wrong. To relate it to my life for a clearer understanding, Aristotle is saying that throughout summer I should be waiting to go back to school so I can go back to being serious. When I asked my mom about how she felt in relation to Aristotle’s viewpoint, she quickly said “He’s wrong, and so are we! We should be more like Europe. They take more breaks from work than we do!” Europe? Do they completely contradict Aristotle’s viewpoint on life?

When I first began researching, I thought Europeans had managed to entirely go against Aristotle’s stance on life, which I still agree with. Europe, “by law,…has at least four work weeks of paid vacation.” [4] Europeans may have more time off but because of this they work less and lead lives of leisure, taking more vacations and spending less time at their jobs. This completely goes against Aristotle’s teachings of life. Aristotle is saying that although we do “need recreation because we are unable to work continuously” [5]  we should not take so much recreation that the seriousness of life becomes less important.

So once again, I was right and my mother was wrong, the way the Europeans live is contradictory to what Aristotle believes. Europeans specifically are not necessarily working for the weekend, they just aren’t working as much in general. They are leading lives of leisure and recreation rather than working and living Aristotle’s definition of serious lives. Aristotle argues that because of this they will not find complete happiness because recreation is just a means, not the end.  I agree with Aristotle, if we were only to work to get to the end of the week so we could enjoy our weekend, we cannot be happy because “recreation, by then, cannot be the end;” [6].

1. Aristotle. Nicomachean ethics. “How to Find Happiness without a Free Lunch”. Edited by Bernardo Aparicio.  Ursuline Academy of Dallas. Accessed May 01, 2017.

2. ibid

3. ibid

4. Alex, and Er E. M. Hess, 24/7 Wall St. “On holiday: Countries with the most vacation days.” USA Today. June 08, 2013. Accessed June 24, 2017. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2013/06/08/countries-most-vacation-days/2400193/.

5. Aristotle. Nicomachean ethics. “How to Find Happiness without a Free Lunch”. Edited by Bernardo Aparicio.  Ursuline Academy of Dallas. Accessed May 01, 2017.

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