Blog Archives

DO YOU LIKE ANY THING?

If you answer ‘no’, welcome to the company of non-materialists whose members eschew unnecessary consumption. 

Socrates said “we should eat to live, not live to eat”.

Eating is necessary, but Epicureans eat abstemiously. Epicurus drank only water and ate with others.

Minimalists do without cars and clear their homes of clutter. In their view most products lack beauty, utility and real value. Conservation minded non-materialists believe acquiring things uses scarce resources and pollutes the environment.

Kaczinsky is opposed, violently, to industrial technology because it is created as a surrogate by inept technologists with corrupted goals. He is an extremist included here to show the anti-technology end of a spectrum. Train and plane spotters could be at the other.

Stoics are materially frugal because maintaining luxuries takes a lot of time. It is acceptable to enjoy wealth as long as one is careful not to cling to it.

According to stoic Marcus Aurelius:

‘Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking.‘ 

For Marx and Engels, materialism meant that the material world, perceptible to the senses, has objective reality independent of mind or spirit. According to Hegel the world is to be comprehended not as composed of ready-made things but as a complex of processes, in which things apparently stable go through an uninterrupted change of coming into being and passing away. These socialists thought that things define the social order:

The master is in possession of a surplus of what is physically necessary; the servant lacks it, and indeed in such a way that the surplus and the lack of it are not accidental aspects but the indifference of necessary needs.

Things can have importance beyond objectivity. People have real affection for certain things and take good care of them. They are fond of the tools they use to make other things in crafts and arts.

Robert Persig cared for his motorbike, often taking it to pieces and reassembling it, the way people care for their horses. In his book The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance he demonstrates his Zen philosophy of ‘quality’ living, with care as a compromise between mechanical classicism and romantic spirituality. 

My book Time is Gold is a story about a marathon runner who tunes up her body and mind like a complex technology, in the Zen way, with her attention on goals and processes but not outcomes. When the thing is you, self-care causes liking. https:/martinknox.com

FREEDOM FROM POSSESSIONS?

‘Freedom is nothing left to lose’ (Song: Bobby Mcghee).

Conversely, can acquisition of a product bring true freedom?

True freedom is much sought after. Giving away one’s possessions may be undertaken to achieve freedom. Is going without honourable, to people other than stoics? Some religions offer poverty as a virtue bringing salvation.

Can giving and impoverishment be a hangover cure for a binge of hedonism?

A person can give and take, at different times, without contradiction. 

Reciprocation is expected. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked (Luke 12:48)

Why is taking balanced by giving? It makes sense in economics but maybe not in ethics.

What if the person gives all they have and it is not reciprocated? Would their condition be pitiable or enviable?

Minimalism removes the distraction of excess possessions so you can focus more on those things that matter most.Adam Smith described a state of “perfect liberty”— which became known as laissez-faire capitalism, freedom to make money — as most socially desirable. Or is minimalism the selfish squandering of opportunity?

Giving can mean transfer of more than you have, by sacrifice. Freedom makes a huge requirement of every human being. With freedom comes responsibility. For the person who is unwilling to grow up, the person who does not want to carry his own weight, this is a frightening prospect. According to Noam Chomsky: The more opportunity you have, the more responsibility you have. An individual’s first responsibility is to himself and his family, according to Jordan Peterson and Ayn Rand.

Should a person try to balance their giving and taking, so as to stay in credit?

Philanthrocapitalists like Gates, Zuckerberg, Musk and Bevos have achieved “spectacular fortunes” in the marketplace and may feel compelled to make a bigger impact, outside the marketplace, by giving. Carnegie gifted what would amount to billions of dollars today by taking a “modest salary” and donating the rest during his life and in his death. He believed that it was not only a moral imperative, but a social responsibility of the elite to support and grow local economies for lower classes. Noblesse Oblige prescribed that with great wealth comes the responsibility to give back to those who are less fortunate than oneself. Was this balance between taking and giving true freedom?

Ordinary individuals may want to balance their giving on a reduced scale.

The conundrum seems to have three dimensions: Freedom; Responsibility; Self sacrifice.

Through acquisition, giving and tolerance, independence may be possible daily.

My blog: https://martinknox.com

ARE YOU STOICAL ABOUT RESTRICTIONS?

Seneca (d.65 AD) a Roman stoic philosopher had answers for these questions:

Do you have to obey?

When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case.

Do you obey graciously?
It is not possible that any evil can befall a good man, unperturbed and serene he turns to meet every sally, all adversity he regards as exercise, a test, not punishment. Adversity is exercise. It matters not what you bear, but how you bear it.

Is your hurt and suffering imaginary?  
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

A stoical population would be relatively compliant to govern, compared with those holding libertarian beliefs, such as Ayn Rand’s. Seneca’s approach would be less anxiety-inducing, until government becomes oppressive and totalitarian.

My writing on Covid 19 and Government is at https://martinknox.com

ARE YOU STOICAL ABOUT RESTRICTIONS?

Seneca (d.65 AD) a Roman stoic philosopher had answers for these questions:

Do you have to obey?

When a dog is tied to a cart, if it wants to follow, it is pulled and follows, making its spontaneous act coincide with necessity. But if the dog does not follow, it will be compelled in any case.

Do you obey graciously?
It is not possible that any evil can befall a good man, unperturbed and serene he turns to meet every sally, all adversity he regards as exercise, a test, not punishment. Adversity is exercise. It matters not what you bear, but how you bear it.

Is your hurt and suffering imaginary?  
We are more often frightened than hurt; and we suffer more from imagination than from reality.

A stoical population would be relatively compliant to govern, compared with those holding libertarian beliefs, such as Ayn Rand’s. Seneca’s approach would be less anxiety-inducing, until government becomes oppressive and totalitarian.

My writing on Covid 19 and Government is at https://martinknox.com

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