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Two Ways of Thinking about Money

People have always been thinking about money because living without it is difficult in any society. The article “Two Ways of Thinking about Money” written by Jerome M. Segal is dedicated to the examination of two human mindsets related to the question of enrichment. These points of view can be formulated as “more is better” and “just enough is plenty”. From a philosophical perspective, he explains that the first one is a dominant paradigm in the modern world, whereas it would be better if people rebuilt the society according to the second one. I believe that the author has many wise ideas but some mistakes as well. In this essay, I want to talk both about wisdom and a small failure of the text.

The major thesis of the article is that “more is better” contemporary financial mindset is destructive and needs to be replaced by “just enough is plenty” one for the well-being of all the humankind. To let the reader know more about both ways of thinking about money, the author tries to contrast them. He builds his argumentation on the basis of Aristotle's philosophy and puts his ideas on the opposite side of how the reality of modern world looks like.

The notion of household is in the center of Aristotle's ethical and economic teaching. He says that all daily things work well if the houshold functions properly. People can bring money to the households through pastoral, farming, fishing, hunting activities and piracy (Segal, 2009). Certainly, each of them has economic needs but people should aspire to attain only sufficient financial goals. It means that it is not necessary to wish for things, which do not match one’s basic daily needs and come out of greediness.

Aristotle divides goods into two categories: external goods and goods of character. The former ones do not bring real happiness because only the latter represent an authentic good for humans. External things are pursued by the people with materialistic interests. However, such individuals do not feel satisfied even if their income grows. Money cannot become a solution for people whose souls are empty.

That is how the author, together with Aristotle, comes to the conclusion that those who think that “more is better” finally experience the distortion of their personalities. A permanent desire to obtain more and more money may transform anyone. Step by step, Mr. Segal leads readers to the idea that modern society is diametrically opposite to what the ancient philosopher thought to be an ideal financial mindset. A modern society is concentrated on consumption. That is why the good life is mostly interpreted as a satisfaction of desires with external goods (Segal, 2009). The author of the article recommends the Simple Living Paradigm as an alternative one, which must change the lifestyle of contemporary people.

Frankly speaking, I agree with such a recommendation of Mr. Segal. The processes of production and consumption have taken too much space in our lives. However, there is one essential idea of the author that I consider to be a mistake. He places too much emphasis on the “more is better” mindset as the only characteristic of contemporary society.

In my opinion, this mindset was inherent to humanity in all times. People always wanted to earn more, and various ancient legends about greedy kings prove this fact. Poor people also strived for wealth because they thought that money could solve their problems. In the times of Ancient Greece and Rome, medieval countries as well as modern societies, there were those who thought that money is equal to happiness, and those who understood that money is not a key to good life. Therefore, I guess that Segal has a one-sided view on this issue.

In general, “more is better” and “just enough is plenty” are two ways to think about money, which have always existed. Nowadays, there are the supporters of both paradigms, too. The moderate attitude to money is the best one because money exists to be used by humans but not to control them.

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