chapter  4
Comfort vs. creative activity as two sources of well- being
Pages 31

Scitovsky’s distinction between comfort and creative activity should not be confused with another distinction sometimes used by social scientists, such as the classical economists. That other distinction was between primary or basic needs, which require some specific goods to ensure people’s survival and safety, and secondary needs, sometimes called ‘wants’, which appear to be more psychological, and which can be satisfied by ‘luxury’ goods. Briefly stated, comfort can satisfy both primary needs and some ‘wants’, while creative activity can satisfy the other ‘wants’. In this way, primary needs can be defined in absolute terms, while the rest of comfort that satisfies ‘wants’ can be defined in relative ones (see also Chapters 5 and 7). This chapter extends the analysis of the preceding chapter on the creative activity pathway to well-being by presenting and discussing the comfort pathway, and by studying differences and connections between the two. More specifically, Section 4.2 introduces and discusses the issue with verbal analysis and reference to Scitovsky’s texts; Section 4.3 provides a formal model so as to make the preceding analysis sharper; Section 4.4 refines the analysis with the help of recent empirical studies. In particular, the concluding part (in 4.4.4) pays especial attention to the recent empirical studies that have revived the debate rooted in ancient Greek philosophy on the contrast between two types of wellbeing, that is, hedonism and eudaimonia.