Bertrand Russell? Arnold J. Toynbee? Apocryphal?
Dear Quote Investigator: People who are attempting to climb the ladder of success today are often working more hours than ever before. Yet, the notable mathematician and intellectual Bertrand Russell envisioned a different future world in which the crucial challenge would be deciding how to fill leisure time intelligently.
A similar observation has been credited to the historian Arnold Toynbee. Perhaps advances in robotics and artificial intelligence will reactivate questions about pursuing leisure. Would you please help me to find a citation?
Quote Investigator: In 1930 Bertrand Russell published “The Conquest of Happiness” which included the following passage. Boldface added to excerpts by QI: 1
Most people, when they are left free to fill their own time according to their own choice, are at a loss to think of anything sufficiently pleasant to be worth doing. And whatever they decide on, they are troubled by the feeling that something else would have been pleasanter. To be able to fill leisure intelligently is the last product of civilization, and at present very few people have reached this level.
Here are additional selected citations in chronological order.
- 1930, The Conquest of Happiness by Bertrand Russell, Chapter 14: Work, Quote Page 208, George Allen & Unwin, London. (Verified with scans) ↩