How Much Is Enough? What is money and wealth for? Why do we as individuals and societies go on wanting more? What is economic growth for? Can we/ should we carry on just growing, creating, producing, consuming,…,more and more, for ever more? Do we need to satisfy our needs or our wants? Should we be a “maximiser” or “satisfier” and choose the path of “enoughness”? Then, what is a good life? What are the main ingredients of a good, happy and peaceful life? Should we move away from Gross National Product (GDP) to Gross National Happiness?
To answer these and other relevant questions a father and son came together and wrote a very good book:
How Much is Enough? Money and the Good Life
The father and son are two distinguished academics: Lord Skidelsky and his son Edward. Lord Skidelsky is professor emeritus of political economy at the University of Warwick and is the celebrated author of the widely acclaimed, prize-winning, three-volume biography of the economist John Maynard Kenynes.
Edward is a lecturer in philosophy at the University of Exeter, specializing in aesthetics and moral philosophy. He is the author of Ernst Cassirer: The Last Philosopher of Culture.
In this book they ask us to reflect on issues that since ancient times have preoccupied all mankind. The question of how best to live one's life was at the very center of ethical debate then, and it is a topic that continues to haunt us to this day.
In How Much Is Enough? Lord Skidelsky and Edward write that "the Western world has become unhealthily preoccupied with the pursuit of wealth and wanting more." Their thesis is an argument against insatiability, that psychological disposition which prevents us as individuals from saying, "Enough is enough."
They argue that the incessant quest for higher incomes, faster growth, is robbing us of the good life rather than helping us to attain it. They challenge us by raising seldom-asked questions, such as: What is the true value of money? Why do we work such long hours merely to acquire greater wealth? What constitutes the good life? And, in the end, what adjustments in our moral and economic system would be needed to realize change?
In answering these pivotal questions, they reanimated philosophical and ethical ideas, drawing on economists, such as Keynes, and philosophers, such as Aristotle, in the conviction that the two disciplines need each other, the one for the sake of its practical influence, the other for the sake of its ethical imagination.
Today, with growing dissatisfaction of an economic system heavily geared to the accumulation of wealth and distorting our values, perhaps we are more willing and more inclined to rethink the role of markets so that we can pursue a more meaningful life.
To nourish these thoughts and to engage more fully with their readership, Lord Skidelsky and Edward gave an interview to Joanne Myers, director of Public Affairs Programmes at Carnegie Council which I would very much like to share with you.
Please see below: