Unproductive Leisure and Resented Work: A Brief Incursion in Hegel (and in Nietzsche)

  • Maria Manuel Baptista
  • Larissa Latif


In this chapter, we consider the role of leisure according to Hegel through reflecting on the centrality of the Lord/Slave dialectic contrasted with a Nietzschean concept of work and leisure (or otium). We found that while Hegel’s negative concept of leisure is Modern, Nietzsche’s theorisation of otium develops an already postmodern concept. First, we show how Hegel masterfully poses the issue, describing the dialectic which makes work transforming and turns leisure into slavery. Second, we examine the reasons why only work is liberating, describing the dialectical process that occurs in the confrontation between consciousness desiring mutual recognition, without desiring mutual annihilation. Thus, by showing how two conflicting desires of consciences can be resolved through the process of recognition, the final section of this text presents how the desire of a conscience must be suppressed and transformed in work (resented, according to Nietzsche), while the other, the desire of the Lord, is the only acceptable desire, but without the possibility of recognition. Finally, we conclude—in line with Gorz and Lafargue—that it is necessary to rethink the concepts of leisure and work in the light of a new conception of temporality, to discuss the profound political implications that the Hegelian vision of work and leisure still bears on contemporary societies.


Leisure Hegelian dialectic Work Slavery Desire Modern subject Recognition Idealism Postmodernity 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Manuel Baptista
    • 1
  • Larissa Latif
    • 1
  1. 1.Departamento de Línguas, Literaturas e CulturasUniversidade de AveiroAveiroPortugal

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