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Cornell University School of Continuing Education and Summer Sessions


Idleness: A Philosophical Essay

by Brian O'Connor,
Tulsa World, June 3, 2018

In “Anatomy of Melancholy,” author Robert Burton enumerated the dire consequences of idleness. In addition to digestive disorders, Burton wrote, idleness was “the nurse of naughtiness, stepmother of discipline, the chief author of all mischief, one of the seven deadly sins, & the sole cause of this & many other maladies, the Devil’s cushion.” Wealthy or poor, idle people will be weary, “loathing, weeping, sighing, grieving, suspecting, offended with the world, with every object, wishing themselves gone or dead.”


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