Otium and Dynamis

Hell0 my friends,

You may not know this but I graduated from the University of Toronto NOT with a kinesiology degree, but with a BA in Philosophy and Classical History.

This post will be one of the few philosophically oriented ones you will find on this Blog.


 

PHILOSOPHICAL TERMS:

Otium (latin)

&

Dynamis  (Greek)

These Ancient terms use to be used to describe one’s life.

They may seem like polar opposites at first, but upon closer inspection the clever reader will notice that they are inevitably linked, like Yin and Yang.

OTIUM:

  • Defined as a certain type of leisure in which the cultivation of one’s virtues and positive attributes is what takes up the majority of the time.
  • The participant of OTIUM necessarily finds enjoyment and thus derives pleasure from these actions.

 

DYNAMIS:

  • Defined as a more or less a continuously sustained physical and mental effort which leads to the attainment of one’s goal.
  • The achievement of one’s goals comes not necessarily through fate or will, but more specifically through HARD WORK.

 

A SEED OF ONE IN THE HEART OF THE OTHER

To the ancient noble men of Greece and Rome leisure WAS hard work.

Back then, the belief system of the aristocratic was described as Virtue Ethics.

That is, they believed in the cultivation of ones virtues – not just ‘ethical’/mental virtues but physical virtues too.

The athletic trainer has been around ever since there has been Sport (i.e. the first Olympic games in 776BC) and before that there was the physical trainer of soldiers of War.

That means Physical Trainers of one sort of another have been around for as long as there have been civilization.

in Ancient Greece and Rome, even the most humble city would have a government sanctioned gymnasiums. And it is in these gymnasiums (at least in Athens) where the philosopher Socrates would engage pupils in some mental gymnastics.

That is to say, not only did the ancients train there bodies AND their minds – they enjoyed doing it!

And if you think about it – War, Gymnastics and talking Philosophy with Socrates was all really hard work.

Yes some ran from war, and yes some shied from speaking their mind to Socrates, but those that did are those whose names lasted through eternity.

BRINGING THIS TO AN END:

Read the histories of famous individuals, model yourself after their good qualities and learn to act as they did in times of need and distress.

So, prepare to work, and work HARD, on those things that you know will make yourself better, and one day you will find that you enjoy this work because of the progress you have made.

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