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‘Lazy’ carries almost equal approbatory and disapproving charges. ‘Lazy days in summer’, ‘lazing by the beach’ only need the adjective for a wistful dreaminess to come over one's imagination. But to accuse a pupil of being lazy or to adduce ‘laziness’ on a school report is to reach for one of the teacher's most severe and final sentences of condemnation.

Yet the quality itself is opaque, and loose in application. No doubt some people have a turn in their temperament towards indolence; they are not highly energised in any particular direction; their manner, often amiable and indiscriminate, is sleepy, perhaps good-humoured, rarely malign. These are, no doubt, dispositionally lazy people and there's nothing much to be done about it. (Sometimes a whole culture may be ...

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