The Wisdom of Frugality

The Wisdom of Frugality

Why Less Is More - More or Less

Book - 2018
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From Socrates to Thoreau, most philosophers, moralists, and religious leaders have seen frugality as a virtue and have associated simple living with wisdom, integrity, and happiness. But why? And are they right? Is a taste for luxury fundamentally misguided? If one has the means to be a spendthrift, is it foolish or reprehensible to be extravagant? In this book, Emrys Westacott examines why, for more than two millennia, so many philosophers and people with a reputation for wisdom have been advocating frugality and simple living as the key to the good life. He also looks at why most people have ignored them, but argues that, in a world facing environmental crisis, it may finally be time to listen to the advocates of a simpler way of life. The Wisdom of Frugality explores what simplicity means, why it's supposed to make us better and happier, and why, despite its benefits, it has always been such a hard sell. The book looks not only at the arguments in favor of living frugally and simply, but also at the case that can be made for luxury and extravagance, including the idea that modern economies require lots of getting and spending. A philosophically informed reflection rather than a polemic, The Wisdom of Frugality ultimately argues that we will be better off―as individuals and as a society―if we move away from the materialistic individualism that currently rules.
Publisher: Princeton : Princeton University Press, 2018
ISBN: 9780691180823
Branch Call Number: Philosophy & Religion 179.9 Wes


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Mar 31, 2019

An even-handed investigation that usually (but not always) awards honors to frugality. If Westacott’s logic falls short of rigorous, it might have been more entertaining. The professor states flatly that education is an expensive commodity, unaware of how cheaply books are available to the autodidact, or that such learning may be better rounded than colleges. At another point he questions whether the image of stereotypical shallow, grasping materialists is fair, and ultimately finds it difficult to prove. Seems a difficult thing to deny, but whatever. Examining the relative impact of simple living on the environment, with a nod at greenhouse gasses, he finds mixed results. But it’s not so complicated: 7.7 billion frugal livers would still sink the biosphere. They just wouldn’t deserve to die. Anyway, a good idea for a book, tolerably well handled. With proper advertising, would abject consumers be hypnotized into reading it?

Mar 21, 2019

The environmental crisis nor the growing economical disparity is not going to persuade anyone to change their ways or do anything different than what they want to do the way they want to do it. I am sure the ancient philosophers were well aware of this fact. The green people are green because they want to be the frugal people are frugal either because they want to be or personal economics force them to be.
We live in a society were most people follow the trends and want to be the same as their friends; fortunately being Green is trendy right now; let us hope this trend continues so more and more people will want to be more and more green.
There are a lot of other bad trends though; the most destructive is the belief that you must own a car to be fully human; since all their friends also own cars most people think they must also. They can greatly reduce their carbon footprint and satisfy their need to comply with the car ownership mandate by buying an electric or hybrid electric car. Since I seem to see fewer and fewer electrics and hybrids I think there is a problem with them though; I have never owned one so I don't know. I wonder if maintenance is higher and more expensive for them? Or is it too hard to get financing on them?
I see most people driving large 4 door cars or even SUVs with just the driver. These are the cars I see advertised on TV also large trucks. I suspect there is low demand for these types of vehicles and that is why they are so heavily advertised. Whereas the cute little two door Fiats I see lately must be in high demand and don't need to be advertised. Naturally the small car leaves a smaller carbon footprint than the big rigs if those contain only the driver as I see most of them do. If they are full of passengers then the big SUV is actually more green of course.
No matter how green you think you are nothing you do composting, recycling, reusing food containers, keeping your thermostat down etc it is insignificant in reducing your carbon footprint compared to what you personally put out by driving a gasoline powered car.
Personally I walk everywhere; I finally took a short trip on the Link at the beginning of the month my first in several years.
Attending college in the mid 80s one of my professors suggested that as the population rises it would be necessary to bring work and home closer together; walking distance for most people.
This didn't happen; instead we see the cost of housing in the areas where the work is; is beyond affordability for most workers. Resulting in a dystopian nightmarish world; where several times the amount of cars the streets are designed to hold flood on to them all at once at the start of rush hour. And as mentioned already most of these are large vehicles with room for 3 to 7 passengers but; contain only the lone driver.
I suppose I could brag about my low carbon footprint compared to most car owners but for me it comes from my frugal lifestyle. I'm about as frugal as they come I have an abhorrence of buying new clothes at full price I buy most of my clothes at thrift stores. I not only don't own a car I don't own a smart phone or other device. I get by with the computers at Seattle Public Library. I don't feel the need to be connected at all times nor the need to have all the up to the minute news in my pocket. I remember when nobody knew the day's news until they got home from work and turned on their TVs. Since I didn't own a TV I turned on the radio and listened to the latest from NPR. I stayed connected via the UNITED STATES POSTAL SERVICE. You may think "Those people in the 80s didn't know what they were missing". Well I know now and Less Really is More.
By the way I see TV commercials on large public TVs; I still don't own one.

May 04, 2017

Not a quick read, I appreciated this book for its clear citations and through exploration of an often skimmed subject. A great book for discussion with friends over coffee.


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