More than anything I’ve read outside the Scriptures, the following passage from Kenneth Minogue has given me great joy and freedom.
The phenomenon of ideology reveals to us that Western civilization is the site of conflict between two distinct ideas about the human condition. Each conception responds to very powerful impulses in our European world. In what we call the “ludic conception,” life is understood to be a kind of game. Our ventures collide with those of others and with the natural world, leading to frustrations to which we respond well or badly. We are judged in terms of the resilience we exhibit in these situations. Everything from chivalry to our economic system, from our addiction to competitive sport to our system of court procedure, bears the marks of this ludic conception of life. As homo ludens, each of us in Christian terms had an eternal destiny as being involved in a kind of wager between our moral sense and the temptations we face. The essence of our moral quality is not what we do, but the spirit in which we do it.
In the alternate conception, a human being is a creature striving to satisfy needs, and these needs include both material comfort and social recognition. A good life in these terms is the efficient satisfaction of these needs. To be caring and compassionate in modern politics is to be concerned with other human beings as, in this way, creatures of needs. The poor and the oppressed are negatively understood as creatures lacking appropriate satisfactions. This is a technological rather than a ludic conception of life, for it sets before man and society a technical task: that of optimizing satisfactions in the pursuit of happiness. Ideology is the most powerful expression of this conception of human happiness. But if I am right, man as a needing creature forever finds himself in conflict with man as a ludic one.
In each of these conceptions of human life, the virtues will be subject to a different emphasis. Neither conception is ever likely to triumph over the other, but shifts in the balance of power between them tell us a great deal about the condition of our civilization. In our time, the technological is in the ascendant, and the ludic is in retreat.
(Alien Powers, The Pure Theory of Ideology, Kenneth Minogue, p. xxxvi, Preface to the Second Edition)