OK, so "schole" and contemplation. Need a whole set of related concepts here, and *every term* marks a contested distinction, most since pagan antiquity.

So rule one is "beware simplifications with salespitches attached." Sure, even mine. :-)
Second, yes, I'm skipping accent marks because they're hard to type on mobile. So sue me!
The conceptual field here, as I see it, has these main terms:

liberal arts
practical arts
The questions are how these are distinct, where they overlap, which are analogous to others, and how some are ordered to or conducive to others.

For example, is study an alternative to contemplation? Is discourse a feature of schole or a hindrance to it? Are trades servile?
So "schole" is one of those terms used differently among the ancients. Plato's use reflects the general tendency of his thought to produce dualisms: it is a state of attention to intelligibles apart from all bodily exigencies.
As a goal or practice, the Platonic "schole" could be thought of as a deliberate expansion of the Socratic interruption of daily life or commonplace thoughts. And that idea is part of what continues to echo in "school" today, even paradoxically.
Aristotle, as he often does, mitigates the dualism so easily derived from Plato. He deals more specifically with what is aimed at and what is ordered to it. Thus the practice of discourse, including what came to be refined as dialectic or disputation, is ordered to "schole "
The activity in involved in the Socratic interruption and its elaboration in the Academy or Lyceum or Stoa, that is, aims at "schole" (now we should probably start speaking of "contemplation") but requires "schole" (the interruption of other activity). Ambiguity? Yes.
This generates other basic dyads in other modes:


and interacts with some adjacent dyads:


...in each case the dyad is an asymmetrical ambiguity easily misconstrued as a comprehensive disjunction.
That is, the terms overlap in some modes because they are really distinctions among ordered wholes, not divisions of reality between mutually exclusive kinds.

This is easily seen when one introduces terms like "rest" and "play" and "sing" and "study" to the dyad work/leisure.
It would be absurd, then to say one should play an instrument *rather than* practice playing it, just as it would be absurd to say one can practice without playing!

Yet in some way practice is *for* playing, not playing *for* practice.

So, in various ways, for all our terms.
So let's consider the system


Is work like study, or is study a leisure activity? You are likely to answer by asking "under what circumstances?"


These are distinctions within, more than differences among.
Consider that all of these except "rest" involve action that requires resting at intervals in order to continue.

Rest itself requires intervals of activity, or it is not rest but morbidity (as also is activity without rest) in time.

This is a basic reality for human creatures.
Is this a strictly physical (involving changes in creatures) or a metaphysical (involving the invariant conditions of creatureliness) reality?

Hmmm.... beside our point, but I suggest the physical reality orients us to a metaphysical one.
(cf. "God rested" and Augustine's "restless hearts.")
Yet we consider rest and play and leisure to be related in opposition to work, while some think of study as almost equivalent to work, but others think of it as less work-like than play.

You can see that excessively general definitions are going to keep spawning antinomies, yes?
So let me try to arrange these terms in a way I hope is helpful & avoids confusions I think the tradition has already sorted for us, here and there.

1) Work is not a problem; servility is a problem. Our first parents worked, but the Curse brought servility.
2) Servility is the condition in which one's work gains him nothing more worthwhile and durable than the ability to continue working. This can be imposed by others (e.g. slavery) or can be a matter of character (e.g. slavery to sin).

3) Whatever reduces servility is "liberal."
4) Can work reduce servility? Obviously. But not in itself, for both the character of the worker and the conditions of work must successfully direct the work to some good whose worth to the worker continues beyond the scene of work--a "liberal" good.
5) Does rest reduce servility? Not obviously, or not in the common English sense. Inactive intervals, including sleep, help our bodies (brains included) to continue their activities. So rest conduces to the pursuit of other goods, but it does not secure them.
6) Does play reduce servility? Well, play is not inactivity like rest, but it is like rest in that it does not aim at securing goods. Play is for the intellect what rest is for the body, setting aside durable concerns in order to enjoy activity with arbitrary, low-stakes aims.
7) Play and rest, then, conduce to whatever work also conduces to. They do not determine whether work tends toward liberal goods or becomes servile.
8) Something beyond work and nonwork (rest & play, or "down time") is required if servility is to be reduced. This thing (these things) must alter conditions of work and (or) character of the worker to reduce servility.

These are "liberal arts."
9) NB: "liberal" remains a black box, for now. But we can delimit it thus:

Purely "servile" behavior positively compounds servility;
Practical & mechanical arts secure at least servile goods by work & may conduce to liberal arts;
Liberal arts secure goods beyond the servile.
10) Note also that if "leisure" proves to be a condition for liberal goods, it will do so by *distinction from*, not likeness to, rest and play.
11) How, then do we discover "liberal arts" by which to effect changes to the conditions of work and the character of the worker that reduce servility? We may begin by observing those things that interrupt servile work for good reasons, like child care or holy days.
12) Child care, holy days, but also jury duty, and by analogy to these all manner of specific understanding and practice of human bodily, spiritual, and political (ethical) freedom: these are the evidence that liberal goods may supervene the servile.
13) The professions of medicine, law, and theology correspond to these domains; any society hoping to ameliorate servility needs these professions to be practiced widely, well, and for the benefit of as many members of the society as possible.
14) But one cannot simply leap from "stay healthy" and "care for children" into the profession of medicine. Human life spans and the diversity of practical needs alone dictate that there are liberal goods more general and basic than the particulars of medicine, law, & theology.
15) Study (or "schole," the elaborated Socratic interruption of work/rest/play), now comes into focus. Like work, study aims at securing goods; unlike work, study does not directly secure servile goods.
16) If study, which does not directly secure servile goods and is not itself the practice of a profession, is a justifiable interruption of work, it must be ordered to participation in the professions in the various kinds and degrees of various humans.
17) Study only achieves its ends insofar as it directs work to alter the conditions of work and the character of the worker so as to secure liberal goods--those goods that rightly supervene work, and to which all non-servile work is ordered.
18) Hence the ambiguity of "leisure": conceived strictly as interruptions of servile work, one might see similarity among rest, play, prayer, and study, and call it "leisure."
19) But understood as activities ordered to securing goods, work and study (and prayer) are alike; rest and play are unlike them (despite being *necessary for* work, play, and prayer). And it is in this positive understanding that we can properly grasp these as realities.
20) With these in view, the traditional liberal arts should make sense as a fundamental scheme of education, making possible participation in public deliberation, access to the understanding gleaned from many lifetimes, and practice coherently integrating these in one's own life.
21) Beyond "trivial education," though, liberal arts also include pre-professional learning which, by ordering understanding more consistently and completely to reality, makes it more possible for more kinds of work to secure both servile and liberal goods. (quadrivium)
22) But we began, as needs must, from the adult human in the condition of servility. Such is the state of humanity under the Curse. But what of children? First, remember that Socrates did not interrupt childhood; the "schole" of the Athenians was an adult pursuit.
23) Then consider the special case of childhood (or "infancy"). Child care is a universally justified "interruption" of servile work because we necessarily exempt children from servile work. The freedom to care for children is a paradigmatic case of work securing liberal goods.
24) The destination of childhood is adult humanity, with its usual condition of servility to be overcome by work and study (and prayer, which we have not yet considered). Care of children is therefore always ordered beyond their maintenance to their freedom from servility.
25) In the protected condition of childhood, then, there is no necessary distinction of work and play, and therefore no clear distinction of study or even prayer from either.
26) These distinctions become clear only as one grows into the ability to secure goods for oneself & others, and ceases to be protected from the curse of servility. For the young child, play *just is* work, study *just is* work/play. Learning to be adults is what children *do*.
27) Educating children, therefore, is a matter of work and study and play from the adult's side that remains "play" from the child's side, initially. The goal of the adult is to make this play conduce to the child's eventual freedom to work/study/pray without imposing servility.
28) [note again that we are not yet fully integrating prayer, because prayer repeats the fundamental analysis of work at a still more basic level concerning still more durable goods, and therefore *encapsulates* these realities that *recapitulate* it in nature.]
29) It is therefore somewhat confusing to introduce as pedagogy (education of children) the fundamentally andragogic (education of adults) concepts of "schole," of the elaborated Socratic interruption of work. Interrupting childhood may well *impose* servility!
30) At the same time, adults educating children recognize that part of freedom in work is the habit of continuing until the good is secured, which is distinct from the enjoyment of play even without reference to servility. Failure to develop this tends to servility, in fact.
31) This habit of continuing beyond the enjoyment of play is shared with study (and prayer). Education of children involves cultivation of aptitudes discovered in play into disciplined habits that extend beyond play.
32) Methods for such education multiply and reshuffle daily, and parents who know their children well and arrange their lives to care for them can take or leave them as they like.
33) Actually knowing each child and cultivating aptitude into freedom in work/study/prayer *just is* education. Every education resource either evidently helps that, or it is at best clutter--too often, it is an absurd imposition of servility on childhood!
34) So how does this relate to contemplation? Well, here we move beyond what we've been discussing. So far, everything is activity (work, study, prayer, play) or is neither action nor contemplation (rest). But we have not tried to push beyond the baseline liberal goods, yet.
35) Here we encounter a phenomenon shared by practical and liberal activity, albeit in different registers. In work, the satisfaction of "a job well done"; in study, the satisfaction of "a problem solved."
36) Neither of these is mere relief of difficulty removed, nor mere ego reinforcement, nor mere filling of an appetite for doing or solving. Both involve gratitude and enjoyment of a more complete & unobstructed vision of a world where things tangible & "fit" in every way.
37) This "fitness" is the /ratio/, the reasonableness proper to all creatures, toward which the rational soul is directed. It is the capacity to seek, to cultivate, and to enjoy this "fitness" that is the /imago dei/ in human creatures.
38) It is important to re-emphasize that this gratitude and enjoyment are not fundamentally *about* the difficulty or the effort in activity, but about the fuller vision of "fitness," new or renewed, that results. Nonetheless, these have a role.
39) Their role has to do with my own sense of participation in this fitness, with the justice of my enjoyment. The negative of this justice is the pride "we" take in "owning" the appropriated works of others. Its positive is our gratitude in enjoying even "our own" work.
40) When I have undertaken the effort of study or work, and gratefully enjoy the "fitness" of the result, I also gratefully enjoy some degree of "fitness" that I am enjoying it. This enjoyment can be shared, but it can only fully be shared with other *participants*.
41) These related senses of "fitness" that arise from work or study, and the necessity of shared participation for full and fitting shared enjoyment, are not only proper to contemplation simply as such, but also suggest how contemplation relates to prayer.
42) Prayer shares much with work and study, in that it is active and oriented to securing goods for oneself and others in its basic senses (petition, intercession) and characteristic expression (spoken, liturgical). It requires effort in the face of difficulty.
43) Like servility in work itself, study can be stunted and disordered. In prayer this is called "superstition"; it fails to secure the goods aimed at by prayer because it reduces prayer to a method or tool for doing servile work. "You ask, and have not, because you ask amiss."
44) Superstition is a larger problem than servility because prayer is a larger matter than work. The goods secured, the gratitude and enjoyment in contemplation, and the "fitness" of the vision enjoyed and our enjoying it, are all developed further still in prayer.
45) Prayer's core is asking, in petition and intercession. Asking, like work and study, seeks to secure goods--at least servile, sometimes liberal, and perhaps even those goods we still only partially enjoy in natural contemplation.
46) Asking is different from even the indirect pursuit of goods by study, or the direct pursuit of goods by work. Asking presupposes the good of friendship, which is the template for all mutually beneficial relationships among persons, however otherwise attenuated or amplified.
47) Asking in the sense proper to prayer, when there is no basis for demand and no possibility I will coerce or manipulate my way to a result, is also humbling. Humility that asks and receives is radically different from servility!
48) By creating us with effective agency in a cosmos susceptible of change, God makes us participants in creaturely being and also voluntary participants in creation, the ongoing making of what the Creator calls into being and sustains in being what it is.
49) Our being created explains the gratitude in natural contemplation of "a job well done" or "a problem solved"; our enjoyment of the new or renewed "fitness" is full of awareness of how both the underlying conditions (lawn, prior art &c.) and our own abilities are gifts.
50) At the same time our creation as rational souls explains the second "fitness," the justice that, when I have mowed the lawn or found words for a principle, I am the one who especially enjoys the "fitness" envisioned in my contemplation of the result.
51) And these give rise to the third "fitness," already hinted at. Only shared participation in the work or the study can lead to truly shared enjoyment in contemplation, because the second "fitness" arises from successful voluntary participation.
52) In part, though, we can gratuitously share the work or study, as in a community barn-raising or a seminar. The celebration of those who brought potato salad to the barn-raising & the ripple of excitement throughout the class when one student goes "Aha!" are hints of this.
53) And the master builder or teacher who makes a place for each person's effort and guides them so their efforts can be effective is, in a limited sense, the cause of their participation in this new vision of "fitness" and of the "fitness" of their enjoyment.
54) In an unlimited sense, then, the Creator is both first and final cause of all the conditions of work, study, prayer, who by our very existence invites us to become voluntary participants in His work of manifesting innumerable kinds and degrees of the Good for enjoyment.
55) By asking in prayer, we go before and beyond the goods sought directly by work, indirectly by study; we acknowledge the conditions of action's success for which we are later grateful & accept the invitation which makes our enjoyment justly ours.
56) Prayer therefore admits the invisible relations of visible goods and embraces the effortful activity of working, studying, and praying on the basis of these relations.
57) The difficulty of prayer is precisely the difficulty of integrating the freedom of God into our servile minds, so as to be comprehensively converted from servility.
58) Prayer is thus the most comprehensive and fundamental transformation of work, situating work and study on their proper ground and opening natural contemplation to what lies beyond its horizon: the fullest possible enjoyment of God through participation in His goodness.
60) Contemplation is superior to action because it arises from and transforms action; contemplative prayer is superior to asking because it arises from and transforms asking; the enjoyment of the triple "fitness" of creaturely participation with the Creator is the greatest good.
61) But contemplation is so far from opposed to action that it does violence to the human creature as such to seek contemplation precisely in refusing to work, study, and pray. This is exactly like suggesting that the best way to enjoy a garden is to eschew gardening!
[ /disquisition ]

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