The Deadliness Of Doing, Ctd

Antonia Macaro considers how “doing nothing” may work to our benefit:

[A] lot depends on what we mean by “nothing”. In our achievement-orientated culture there is a danger of construing this as any activity without a clear end-product. In fact, there are different ways of doing nothing, some positive and some negative. There is a passive watching-TV-all-day kind of doing nothing, which is indeed often a sign of malaise. But there is also a “doing nothing” that includes reading, walking, reflecting, attending to the small things in life. An active doing nothing, if you know what I mean.

I’m not advocating doing nothing as a general policy in life. But it’s important not to confuse all unproductive activity with wasteful idleness. Allowing and cherishing a “doing nothing” of the active variety could enrich life as much as a passive doing nothing is likely to impoverish it.

Baggini looks to “The Dude” of The Big Lebowski, whose philosophy advocates “abiding” over “doing”:

I’m not sure many of us would really like to live like The Dude and the real world is more complicated than the often surreal universe of The Big Lebowski. But we can learn something from him even if we don’t become card-carrying dudeists. It’s that many battles are not worth fighting, even though our cause is just and our enemies in the wrong. The world is unfair and, if we cannot accept that fact, we will often end up further disturbing the peace of ourselves and others. We should not let people get away with everything, of course. But against the perennial temptation to believe something must be done, doing nothing is often the more courageous and fruitful path.

Oakeshott’s views on the matter here.