The Unappreciated Virtue of Frugality
DOI link for The Unappreciated Virtue of Frugality
The Unappreciated Virtue of Frugality book
Frugality has never been the subject of particular inquiry on the part of philosophers, moralists, and ethicists. Only little attention has been paid to this matter in comparison to considerations on dignity, justice, and tolerance. This virtue also does not enjoy high social esteem, since it is too easily associated with its degenerate form, that is, greediness. The latter, being enclosed in the archetype of the miser, King Midas, the wily Scot, or the provident ant, is often the subject of ridicule and contempt expressed in many jokes, proverbs, and literary works. The virtue of frugality seems particularly anachronistic and unnecessary in the era of the consumer society, in which the development and satisfaction of the individual are identified with an increase in the amount of consumed goods and services, and the dominant social welfare measure is the GDP. James Nash (1995) even argues that frugality is the most neglected norm in modem morality. It is in conflict with the recognized standards of the consumer society and the beliefs of many people, and what is perhaps of most importance is that the postulate of frugality is in conflict with the powerful interests of those who want to cash in on the ever-increasing consumption. Consumption has become a way to satisfy the majority of human needs, not just those associated with sustaining one’s existence, 204but also mental and spiritual needs. Buying more and more new products is supposed not only to provide people with a comfortable life, but also to give a sense of security, to allow to maintain close and cordial relations with others, to gain respect and recognition in their own as well as others’ eyes. People do anything to make the buying process easy and enjoyable. The limited freedom to make decisions in various spheres of life is compensated by the illusion of total freedom of choice when purchasing products or services. The basic human activity is being geared toward marketing, which is expressed in the slogan “work to buy.” Probably never in the history of mankind has any norm been propagated as strongly and on such a massive scale as the postulate of consumption, which stands in obvious conflict with the norm of frugality.