In an interesting new book Wisdom of frugality – why less is more – more or less, Emrys Westacott philosophises about why the ancient philosopher and sages advocated frugality as the road to wisdom. So the pull between the pursuit of riches and the desire to do with less is not a modern phenomenon as we think, it is there from the old ages.
Emrys Westacott, who is a philosophy professor with Alfred University in New York runs a course on Tightwaddery, that was named one of the hottest classes by the Daily Beast. Professor Westacott thinks that frugality is our only alternative to become environmentally more conscious. He also thinks that a frugal life is more meaningful than the one that follow a path of mindless hedonism and conscpicuous consumption.
The course description says, “The basic idea underlying much of contemporary life and culture is: Spend money and you’ll be happy. This is a lie perpetrated by capitalists who want us to buy their products. This seminar will prove its falsity both in theory and in practice. On a theoretical level, we will consider how living frugally benefits your mind, your body, your relationships, your community, and the environment. On a practical level, we will examine personal spending habits, sharpen bargain-hunting, rip-off-detecting, and haggling skills, make field trips to yard sales and thrift shops, and prepare a class banquet for less than $10. At bottom, though, the course is less concerned with cutting coupons than with the question Socrates asked long ago: What is the good life for a human being?”
The class tracks the expenses of all the students, recommends ways to buy more for less and focuses on tracking all the expenses rigorously. The tightwaddery book list contains the usual suspects like the classic “Your money or your life” and some less well known ones like “Living well on practically nothing”.
In conclusion, both the book and the class website is a mine of information on the philosophical basis of a frugal lifestyle. It argues that frugality is not the last option but is a better option for people who may have enough.