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First Things presents our 2020–2021 reading group to discuss works by Josef Pieper that focus on the themes of leisure, contemplation, festivity, and happiness. In a profound synthesis of these concepts, developed in several works, Pieper argues that the ultimate meaning of human life lies in contemplative activity, which finds its highest expression in festivity. Pieper describes the necessary prerequisites for such activity: an understanding of the world as created and an inner quiet that allows one to see reality and be “in tune with the world.”

The reading group will be led by David Gallagher, former professor of philosophy at the Catholic University of America.

The reading group will meet 8 a.m.–9:30 a.m. on one Thursday morning each month, starting September 17, 2020, and ending May 13, 2021. Meetings will take place at our offices at 9 East 40th Street on the tenth floor.

Membership in the group will be capped at sixteen. The fee for the nine-session sequence of seminars is $500. Limited scholarships are available. For more information email mspeciale@firstthings.comBooks and a light breakfast will be provided.

The dates for the meetings are: 
September 17, October 15, November 19, December 17, January 14 (2o21), February 18, March 18, April 15, and May 13.


Leisure the Basis of Culture

In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity

Happiness and Contemplation

In Search of the Sacred


September: Leisure the Basis of Culture (1-3)

October: Leisure the Basis of Culture (3-5)

November: In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity (1-4)

December: In Tune with the World: A Theory of Festivity (5-9)

January: Happiness and Contemplation (1-6)

February: Happiness and Contemplation (7-13)

March: The Philosophical Act (all)

April: In Search of the Sacred (pp. 7-81)

May: John Henry Newman, The Idea of a University, Discourses V and VI